Category Archives: 1971

DVD Review: Dan August – The Complete Collection (1970-71).

Before getting this set, I don’t think I’d ever seen an episode of Dan August all the way through. I thought of it pretty much the way most folks do: either it was this TV thing Burt Reynolds did before Deliverance (1972) made him a big deal, or it was just another 70s cop show — take your pick. Either way you look at it, you’re selling it short.

The set Dan August – The Complete Collection kicks off with the 1970 TV movie House On Greenapple Road that introduces the Dan August character, played by Christopher George. Like the series that would come after it, it’s got a terrific cast — Janet Leigh (who’s really good), Keenan Wynn, Julie Harris, Walter Pigeon, Ed Asner, Paul Fix and Barry Sullivan. Whether they saw it as a pilot or just a TV movie at the time, it’s really good.

Dan August is a homicide detective in the fictional Southern California town of Santa Luisa. It doesn’t seem to be a very big place, but people sure do turn up dead a lot. And that’s were August comes in. Christopher George played him as the typical late 60s TV detective, and he’s very good. But when the series came along, George turned it down and recommended his friend Burt Reynolds for the part. It took some time to sell Quinn Martin (and Burt) on the idea, but it all came together.

Reynold’s Dan August is younger and more physical, which brings in more topical subject matter (drugs, hippies, homosexuals, protests, etc.) and a lot more action. Burt does all his owns stunts — leaping over fences and cars, fighting one crook after another, and always running. He must’ve been a bruised-up, exhausted mess when he got home each day. Of course, it adds a lot of authenticity to the show. His self-deprecating sense of humor isn’t on display here, and the series is better off without it. 

The principal cast was reimagined with Burt in the lead. His partner’s Norman Fell (taking over from the movie’s Keenan Wynn), and Richard Anderson replaced Barry Sullivan as the Chief Of Police. Ned Romero and Ena Hartman were kept from the TV movie.

The shows are well-written and sharply, stylishly directed. And the casting from episode to episode is fabulous, bringing in folks like Ricardo Montalban, Vera Miles (above), Harrison Ford, Dabney Coleman, Larry Hagman, Diana Muldaur, Julie Adams, Carolyn Jones, Bradford Dillman, Donna Mills, Victor French, Richard Basehart, Lee Meriweather, Don Stroud, Sal Mineo, Ellen Corby, Billy Dee Williams and Mickey Rooney. It’s a lot of fun watching for who’ll pop up in the next one.

Even though Burt was nominated for a Golden Globe, Dan August only lasted one season (on ABC). It was an expensive show to make, and it was up against some heavy competition. Burt would quickly move on, and after he was a major star, Dan August would be rerun by CBS both late at night and in primetime.

Now, thanks to the DVD set Dan August – The Complete Collection from VEI, it runs whenever you want it to run. The shows are complete and look really good. The pilot movie, House On Greenapple Road, looks terrific, bright with rich color. The set is highly recommended.

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Filed under 1970, 1971, Barry Sullivan, Burt Reynolds, Carolyn Jones, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Julie Adams, Mickey Rooney, Richard Basehart, Television, Vera Miles

Making Movies: Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster (1971).

I love behind-the-scenes photos from Toho’s kaiju movies, so here’s the latest batch — all from Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster (1971, AKA Godzilla Vs. Hedorah).

Toho’s masters, director Ishirō Honda and special effects man Eiji Tsuburaya, weren’t on board this time around. Yoshimitsu Banno directed and worked on the script.

There’s an environmental message to Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster, but as a kid I didn’t hold it against it.

It has Godzilla taking on a pretty cool monster, and plenty of stuff got stomped, so us kids were pretty happy with it.

There was even a pop song tie-in in Japan, which was totally lost on us here in the States.

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Filed under 1971, Kaiju Movies, Making Movies, Toho

Blu-Ray Review: The Return Of Ultraman (1971-72).

When the Japanese special effects master Eiji Tsuburaya passed away in 1970, his son Hajime took over the family business, Tsuburaya Productions. In what would prove to be a very smart move, he resurrected the Ultra Series with The Return Of Ultraman. (Sadly, Hajime Tsuburaya passed away in 1973.)

The Return Of Ultraman was the fourth entry in the Ultra Series, and what’s cool about this batch is that Ishirō Honda, the principal director of Toho’s Godzilla movies and other kaiju pictures, was on hand for a few episodes, including the first one, “All Monsters Attack.” Honda is the John Ford of Japanese monster movies — everyone copies what he did, but no one could come close to the master’s work. (Years later, Akira Kurosawa would coax Honda our of retirement to work on his later films, sometimes as a second unit director.)

You could probably say The Return Of Ultraman is more of the same. Which, if you like the earlier stuff, sounds like a pretty good deal. (Today, Hollywood pretty much lives on the “more of the same” approach to filmmaking.) There are some subtle differences in how our new Ultraman, a race-car driver named Hideki Go, works — and there are some alterations to the Ultraman outfit, but when it comes to Ultraman battling monsters, the Tsuburayas knew they were onto a good thing.

The Monster Attack Team (MAT) and their gorgeous 1971 Mazda Cosmo Sport.

What I found interesting about The Return Of Ultraman is that the Ishirō Honda episodes have a slightly different look and feel to them. Honda’s style, while maybe hard to describe, seems to be impossible to duplicate (whether it’s Godzilla or Ultraman, features or TV).

Mill Creek has released The Return Of Ultraman as part of their ongoing Ultraman DVD/Blu-Ray program, and like its predecessors, it looks and sounds terrific. They’re presented in Japanese with nice English subtitles (even the theme song),  they look like a million bucks, and they’re packaged with obvious care. The monster “roster” included in the booklet is a lot of fun. It’s always nice to see something like this, as goofy or juvenile as it may seem, receive stellar treatment like this. For fans of this sort of thing, this is highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under 1971, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Eiji Tsuburaya, Ishirō Honda, Kaiju Movies, Mill Creek

Blu-Ray News #254: Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb (1971).

Directed by Seth Holt
Starring Andrew Kier, Valerie Leon, James Villiers

Scream Factory’s trip through the Hammer vaults continues with Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb (1971), a later-period highlight for Hammer. This picture certainly had its troubles. Peter Cushing shot one day’s worth of scenes before his wife became ill. He was replaced by Andrew Kier. Near the end of the shoot, director Seth Holt had a heart attack and died on the set.

It’s based on a story by Bram Stoker, has really terrific cinematography by Arthur Grant and gives the lovely Valerie Leon a lead role for a change. Can’t wait to see what Scream Factory does with this. Their Hammer series has been really incredible so far. Coming in September.

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Filed under 1971, Andrew Keir, DVD/Blu-ray News, Hammer Films, Shout/Scream Factory, Valerie Leon

Blu-Ray News #248: Godzilla – The Showa-Era Films (1954-1975).

If I had a nickel for every minute I stared at this FM cover as kid…

For their 1000th release (or spine number), The Criterion Collection has gone very big with a great big giant box of Godzilla movies. Not those new things — no thank you — but the real ones.

Of course, this being a Criterion release, you can count on each of these the films — all 15 Godzilla movies released from 1954 to 1975 — shining like a jewel. And naturally, there will be tons of extras, from alternate versions to commentaries to documentaries and trailers and so on. Does my heart good to know the work of Mr. Honda and Mr. Tsuburaya will get the level of respect these folks will give it.

The films are:
Godzilla (1954)
Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1963, 2.35 AR)
Mothra Vs. Godzilla (1964, 2.35 AR)
Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964 2.35 AR)
Invasion Of Astro-Monster (1965, 2.35 AR)
Son Of Godzilla (1967, 2.35 AR)

Destroy All Monsters (1968, 2.35 AR)
All Monsters Attack (1969, 2.35 AR)
Godzilla Ss. Hedorah (1971, AKA Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster, 2.35 AR)

Godzilla Vs. Gigan (1972, 2.35 AR)
Godzilla Vs. Megalon (1973, 2.35 AR)
Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (1974, 2.35 AR)
Terror Of Mechagodzilla (1975, 2.35 AR)

I absolutely love some of these movies. One of them I hate with a passion. Son Of Godzilla is criminally lame, and at 10, I considered it the worst movie I’d ever seen (that was before The Witches Of Eastwick). The very thought of making my way through this thing (yes, even Son Of Godzilla)  makes me happy.

Stomping its way to TVs everywhere in October. Make sure yours is one of them.

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Filed under 1954, 1955, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, AIP, Criterion Collection, DVD/Blu-ray News, Eiji Tsuburaya, Famous Monsters Of Filmland, Ishirō Honda, Kaiju Movies, Toho

RIP, Paul Koslo.

Paul Koslo
(June 27, 1944 – January 9, 2019)

I just learned that one of my favorite character actors of the 70s, Paul Koslo, passed away back in January. He’s in so much great stuff: The Omega Man (1971), Joe Kidd (1972), Mr. Majestyk (1974, above), Freebie And The Bean (1974), The Drowning Pool (1975) and Rooster Cogburn (1975), to name just a few. How many actors could say they locked horns with John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Paul Newman and James Caan?

Every movie he was in was better for his presence.

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Filed under 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, Alan Arkin, Charles Bronson, Charlton Heston, Clint Eastwood, James Caan, Paul Newman

Making Movies: Diamonds Are Forever (1971).

It had been a while since I’d seen Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Sean Connery’s last entry in the “official” Bond series, and the followup to my favorite 007 movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), which starred the one-Bond-only George Lazenby.

Much of the picture was shot in and around Las Vegas, so for us in the States, it doesn’t have the exotic, globe-hopping angle the series tends to have. However, it offers a terrific Panavision and Technicolor look at Sin City in the early 70s. Many of the casinos you see in it are now gone.

Another slight disappointment is the absence of Bond’s Aston Martin (either the DB5 from Goldfinger or the DBS seen in OHMSS). He drives a red 1971 Ford Mustang Mach 1 instead.

Another vehicle is the prototype moon buggy Bond swipes from Willard Whyte’s place.

Connery practiced his golf swing on the moon simulation set. (Actually, judging from behind-the-scenes photos, it looks like he practiced everywhere.)

Connery’s co-star was the lovely Jill St. John. Here they are with an ice cream bar.

And between takes on the offshore oil rig.

Here are Bruce Glover (as Mr. Wint) and Putter Smith (as Mr. Kidd) on location in Amsterdam.

Lastly, dig this preliminary poster design from the great Robert McGinnis.

Diamonds Are Forever, in a way, hints at the tone of the Roger Moore Bonds that were to follow. Guy Hamilton, who directed this and Goldfiinger (1964), would do the first two Moore pictures, Live And Let Die (1973) and The Man With The Golden Gun (1974).

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Filed under 1971, James Bond, Making Movies, Sean Connery

Blu-Ray News #142: Valdez Is Coming (1971).

Directed by Edwin Sherin
Starring Burt Lancaster, Susan Clark, Jon Cypher, Barton Heyman, Richard Jordan, Frank Silvera, Hector Elizondo

Kino Lorber has announced that Valdez Is Coming (1971) is coming to Blu-Ray. It’s the second of three Westerns Burt Lancaster made in the early 70s, the other two being Lawman (1971) and Robert Aldrich’s Ulzana’s Raid (1972).

It’s based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, and at one point there was talk of Marlon Brando playing Valdez, Lancaster taking the part that went to Jon Cypher and Sydney Pollack directing. What a different movie that would’ve been.

No details from Kino Lorber yet, and the release date is simply later this year.

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Filed under 1971, Burt Lancaster, DVD/Blu-ray News, Elmore Leonard, Kino Lorber, Marlon Brando, Robert Aldrich, Sydney Pollack

DVD/Blu-Ray News #106: Willard (1971) And Ben (1972).

willard-and-ben-os

Scream Factory has announced the upcoming releases of Daniel Mann’s Willard (1971) and Phil Karlson’s Ben (1972) this May. Willard, a story of a young man and the rats that have infested his rundown home, was a big creepy hit. The sequel, Ben,  has the benefit of Phil Karlson in the director’s chair (and a song by Michael Jackson that I hate). Both films are effective.

I’m surprised it’s taken this long to get these pictures out there, and I’m sure Scream Factory will do a terrific job with them.

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Filed under 1971, 1972, DVD/Blu-ray News, Ernest Borgnine, Phil Karlson, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Ray News #105: The Creeping Flesh (1973).

creepign-flesh-lc

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.

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Filed under 1967, 1971, 1973, Christopher Lee, DVD/Blu-ray News, Freddie Francis, Mill Creek, Peter Cushing, Sam Peckinpah