(November 10. 1928 – July 6, 2020)
The great composer Ennio Morricone has passed away at 91. Among his many terrific scores was the one for Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966).
Without his music, would spaghetti Westerns have been as impactful as they were?
His work that comes to mind with this news is Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik (1967).
(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.
A couple months ago, Kino Lorber announced that they were preparing The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1967) for release — a set that would bring the original cut to Blu-Ray (in mono) from 4K. Though it’ll be the umpteenth time I’ve bought this movie on video, I welcome the original cut and audio in hi-def.
Now, they announced that the first two Eastwood/Leone pictures — A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) and For A Few Dollars More (1965) are getting the same treatment and will be coming later this year. They will standalone releases, not a set. I can’t wait.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes photo from my all-time favorite movie, Where Eagles Dare (1969), to mark Mr. Eastwood’s 87th birthday.
Broadsword calling Danny Boy!
Directed by Sergio Leone
Starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach
Like a lotta folks, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is one of my favorite movies. I could sit down and watch it every day, easy. But I couldn’t stand that restoration from 2004. While it looked terrific (aside from that yellow-ish tint on everything), the reworked surround sound drove me nuts. Unfortunately, that was the version that made its way to Blu-Ray — so I’ve clung to the old MGM pre-2004 DVD.
Sergio Leone directing one of the greatest scenes in cinema history.
I was overjoyed to learn that for the picture’s 50th anniversary, the original version would be given the deluxe 4K treatment — in the original mono! The set from Kino Lorber also gives you the extended version, also in mono. A slew of extra’s, many carried over from the previous editions, will be included. I don’t care how many times you bought this in the past, this is essential. Coming this summer.
Donald Jay “Don” Rickles
(May 8, 1926 – April 6, 2017)
Mr. Warmth, the great Don Rickles, has passed away at 90. From his nightclub act to his appearances on Johnny Carson to Bikini Beach (1964) to Kelly’s Heroes (1970), Don Rickles could effortlessly make me laugh. There’s just something about him that cracks me up.
One of my goals in life has always been to put myself in a place where I’d be insulted by Mr. Rickles. Boy, it’s a Big Drag that he’s gone.
(February 18, 1925 – February 28, 2016)
George Kennedy, one of Hollywood’s finest, and busiest, character actors, has passed away at 91.
Kennedy made so many good movies in the 60s and 70s (he was plenty busy in TV, too), it’s hard to keep track of them. Charade (1963). The Sons Of Katie Elder (1965), in which he and John Wayne execute one of the most perfectly-timed hits in all of cinema — as Wayne smacks Kennedy in the face with the spoke of a wagon wheel. Cool Hand Luke (1967, above), as Dragline — which landed him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. The Dirty Dozen (1967). And a personal favorite, Thunderbolt And Lightfoot (1974).
Boy, what a great night this will be for those fortunate enough to be there. A tribute to director Don Siegel, at a drive-in, featuring three of his finest films: Coogan’s Bluff (1967), Charley Varrick (1973) and The Killers (1964).
Don Siegel Triple Feature
Friday, July 17, beginning at dusk
General Admission: $10.00
Children’s Admission: $7.00
The Mahoning Drive-In Theater
635 Seneca Road, just of Rte. 443
Lehighton, PA 18235
One of my favorite filmmakers. Three of his best pictures. All in 35mm on “the largest CinemaScope screen in Pennsylvania.” Sounds like heaven.
Filed under 1964, 1968, 1973, Andy Robinson, Angie Dickinson, Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, Lalo Schifrin, Lee Marvin, Screenings, Walter Matthau
Directed by Don Siegel
Starring Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts Blossom, Fred Ward
Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood’s final collaboration, Escape From Alcatraz (1979), is tight, tough, cool and exciting — just what you’d expect from the guy who directed Riot In Cell Block 11 (1954), Dirty Harry (1971), Charley Varrick (1973) and so many others.
Well researched and actually shot at Alcatraz (which had to be partially restored prior to filming), it’s coming to Blu-ray from Paramount in October. (I’ve been wanting to watch this one again, but I’ll wait for the Blu-ray.) Highly, highly recommended.
Speaking of Siegel, Criterion has brought their 1946/1964 The Killers double feature to Blu-ray. Siegel made the 1964 version — starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Ronald Reagan, John Cassavettes and Clu Galager — as a TV movie, but Universal sent it to theaters instead. (Robert Siodmak directed the 1946 one, starring Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner.) Very good stuff.
(July 31, 1935 – April 7, 2015)
Folks, we’ve lost another great character actor. Geoffrey Lewis, who made such a huge impression in so many films, particularly those of Clint Eastwood, passed away yesterday. He had a long, varied career, and had to be one of the most dependable guys around. He’s always terrific.
Both images are from Thunderbolt And Lightfoot (1974). In the bottom one, that’s him to the right, along with Jeff Bridges, George Kennedy and Eastwood. If you haven’t seen this film, or if it’s been a while, go find it.
I’m sure a lot of the news today will focus on his daughter, Juliette Lewis. That’s fine, as long as we don’t forget his many wonderful performances.