Category Archives: 1968

Happy Birthday, Freddie Francis.

Freddie Francis
(December 22, 1917 – March 17, 2007)

Freddie Francis was born 101 years ago today. He was one of the greatest cinematographers the movies ever had — a master of B&W ‘Scope (The Innocents, The Elephant Man) — and the director of a pretty good string of horror movies, usually for Hammer or Amicus.

He’s seen here (left) on the set of Dracula Has Risen From The Grave (1968) with Christopher Lee and Veronica Carlson. They’re actually celebrating Lee’s birthday, but this photo’s close enough for our purposes.

Also, a happy birthday to Colin McGuigan, a friend of this blog and my Western one. His Riding The High Country gives us all something to live up to.

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Filed under 1968, Amicus Productions, Christopher Lee, Freddie Francis, Hammer Films

RIP, Michele Carey.

Michele Carey
(February 26, 1943 – November 21, 2018)

Just saw that Michele Carey has passed away. She didn’t make many movies, but when you’ve worked with John Wayne, Howard Hawks and Robert Mitchum (El Dorado, 1967) and Elvis (Live A Little, Love A Little, 1968), not to mention Frank Sinatra (Dirty Dingus Magee, 1970) — what else do you need? Oh, and then there’s How To Stuff A Wild Bikini (1965).

She’s terrific in El Dorado — everyone is. She holds her own up against some real heavyweights, in a movie that relied on Hawks’ typical rambling, improvisational tone. That’s no small task.

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Filed under 1965, 1967, 1968, 1970, AIP, Elvis Presley, Howard Hawks, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum

Screening: The ’68 Comeback Special.

It’s been 50 years since Elvis made his stunning “Comeback Special” — a long, long way from the Christmas special that was the original plan. If you haven’t seen it, I feel sorry for ya.

But all is not lost. It’s being shown in theaters to mark the anniversary. Click the King to find out more.

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Filed under 1968, Elvis Presley, Screenings

Blu-Ray News #160: Dark Of The Sun (1968).

Frank McCarthy’s original poster art.

Directed by Jack Cardiff
Starring Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux, Jim Brown, Kenneth More

Warner Archive has announced the upcoming Blu-Ray release of one of the damnedest movies I’ve ever seen, Jack Cardiff’s Dark Of The Sun (1968). Easily one of the darkest, most jaw-dropping-ly over-the-top action movies of the 60s, if you haven’t seen this, you’re in for a real treat.

Rod Taylor’s performance, like so much other stuff in this thing, has to be seen to be believed. If there was ever a movie that deserved re-discovery, it’s this one, Highly, highly recommended.

Thanks to Dick Vincent for the news. It made my day.

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Filed under 1968, DVD/Blu-ray News, MGM, Rod Taylor, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray Review: The Green Slime (1968).

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku
Written by William Finger, Tom Rowe, Charles Sinclair

Cast: Robert Horton (Commander Jack Rankin), Richard Jaeckel (Commander Vince Elliott), Luciana Paluzzi (Dr. Lisa Benson), Bud Widom (Gen. Jonathan B. Thompson)

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A group of intrepid astronauts, lead by Robert Horton and Richard Jaeckel, visit an asteroid (and destroy it before it collides with Earth). One of them returns to space station Gamma 3 with some kinda green goo on his spacesuit. The goo soon transforms into dozens of nasty-looking green monsters with tentacles and a single red eye.

Commander Jack Rankin (Robert Horton): “Wait a minute — are you telling me that this thing reproduced itself inside the decontamination chamber? And, as we stepped up the current, it just… it just grew?”

The men and women (including Luciana Paluzzi of Thunderball and Muscle Beach Party) stationed on Gamma 3 soon find themselves in a battle to the death with these wretched things — all in Panavision and Metrocolor. (It’s a little embarrassing to admit that, as a kid, I was genuinely frightened by the scenes on the asteroid, as the titular green slime attached itself to the astronauts and their equipment.)

Filmed in Japan, with a Japanese crew and American cast, The Green Slime is slightly related to the four sci-fi pictures from Italian director Antonio Margheriti about space station Gamma 1 — Wild, Wild PlanetWar Of The Planets, War Between The Planets (all 1966) and Snow Devils (1967). Those films, which share some of the same screenwriters as The Green Slime, were produced by MGM as TV movies but sent to theaters instead. Margheriti made all four in just three months! (Maybe it’s time to cover the entire Gamma 1 saga. Three of the four are available from Warner Archive.)

Thanks to 2001: a space odyssey (1968), The Green Slime oozed into theaters woefully behind in the special effects race. That’s not a complaint, as I’m a big fan of spotty practical effects, rubber monsters and cheesy miniatures. Fact is, everything in this movie is absolutely perfect for what it is. Writing, acting, sets, effects, music — they all suit each other. I love that the lighting rig is clearly reflected in the space helmets as our heroes explore the surface of the asteroid. I would’ve been disappointed if a wire wasn’t visible on a spaceship somewhere along the way. If the monsters were something other than Japanese guys in rubber suits, well, that would’ve ruined it for me. And the terrific theme song — from Richard Delvy of the surf band The Challengers — is the cherry on top of the whole gooey mess.

The green slime doesn’t show up green in this faded old 35mm publicity slide.

Believe it or not, I was a little concerned that the improved detail, contrast, color, etc. of the Warner Archive Blu-Ray would take away from the cheesy enjoyment packed into every frame of The Green Slime. But I was wrong. The silver-painted plywood grain of the space station is clearer than ever. The wires on the space ships are easier to spot. And the colors really pop, though I think the tint was a little truer on the old DVD. The audio’s clean and crisp — and there’s an original trailer to marvel at.

The movie’s a gas, and the Blu-Ray’s a real beauty. Essential to those who dig this kinda stuff.

One last thing. Given the perils of Gamma 3 and considering the giant slug hiding in the asteroid in The Empire Strikes Back (1980), there’s an important lesson to be learned: stay the hell away from asteroids.

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Filed under 1968, Antonio Margheriti, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, MGM, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #139: The Green Slime (1968).

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku
Starring Robert Horton, Richard Jaeckel, Luciana Paluzzi

With Kubrick’s 2001: a space odyssey (1968), MGM took science fiction, and filmmaking in general, a huge leap forward. With The Green Slime, later that same year, they took it backwards just as far. The result, a wonderfully cheesy Japanese/US co-production, is coming to Blu-Ray from our intergalactic friends at Warner Archive later this year.

Some astronauts visit an asteroid (and destroy it), and one of them comes back with some kinda green goo on his spacesuit. The goo soon transforms into nasty-looking green monsters with tentacles and a single red eye.

Filmed in Japan by a Japanese crew, with an American cast (and script), it’s slightly related to a series of sci-fi pictures from Italian director Antonio Margheriti (Wild, Wild PlanetWar Of The PlanetsWar Between The Planets; and Snow Devils, all from 1965).

Green Slime 45.jpg

If you have one of these, please consider leaving it to me in your will.

The title tune is terrific. And if all that doesn’t promise an hour-and-a-half of cheesy goodness, note that it features Luciana Paluzzi, an actress with one of the greatest 60s and 70s filmographies of them all: Bonanza, Muscle Beach Party (1964), Thunderball (1965), Hawaii Five-O and more.

The Green Slime announced for Blu-Ray — this is a red-letter day.

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Filed under 1968, Antonio Margheriti, DVD/Blu-ray News, MGM, Warner Archive

Happy Memorial Day.

Lets all take a minute to remember the brave Americans who’ve given their lives for their country.

This is a detail from the Japanese poster for The Green Berets (1968), John Wayne’s tribute to the men and women serving in Vietnam. As a kid, I’d get lost in Frank McCarthy’s incredible poster art (click on it and it’ll get a lot bigger), absorbing all the rich detail he packed into it. Wonder where that art is now?

John Wayne visiting the 7th Marines at Chu Lai, June 1966.

Wayne’s movie still gets people stirred up. But honoring our military folks isn’t about politics, it’s about gratitude. We owe them all so much.

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Filed under 1968, John Wayne