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The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.
OCTOBER 2016
This Blog will be offering a colorful kaleidoscope of movie magic for cinema aficionados.
Crispy peanuts, colorful baloons and thrilling sensations on celluloid.
See offbeat goodies and magic crumbs ...weekly!
Photos beat content!

'Mayerling' (1968) is a grandiose costume drama which tells a tale out of history.
The film sparkles with an excellent Production Design (by Georges Wakhévitch), fine Art Direction and magnificent costumes, 
designed by Marcel Escoffier.
'Mayerling' also convinces with wonderful location settings, Studio Sets and the captivating color photography by Henri Alekan 
('Topkapi', 'Figures in a Landscape',...).
What Director Terence Young (1915–1994) unfortunately can not offer is a rousing story.
The renowned Players (Omar Sharif, Catherine Deneuve, Ava Gardner, James Mason and James Robertson Justice) are dancing flabby.
It's quite fast visually fatiguing to see all the pomp. 
The film is wooden, overblown, and has a tiring pace.
Narcotic effect guaranteed!
The young and beautiful Catherine Deneuve looks great, but she offers only a flat performance.
A lavish Studio Set with a pond. 
Crown Prince Rudolf (Omar Sharif) is trying to throw rings over the head/neck of real white swans.
This is not an undersize baby carriage or an oversize baby...
Director Terence Young enjoys a ride on a special camera dolly, an old wooden barrow. 'Mayerling', 1968.
Omar Sharif pushes Terence Young through the 'Mayerling' Set, 1968.
Ava Gardner with Omar Sharif - Omar Sharif corrects the lighting and the position of the microphones. 
We all need a little fun.
A dull film, but funny shooting.

Your comments are always welcome!

'Escape from L.A.' is the last movie for the Disney Studio's in-house visual effects company 'Buena Vista Visual Effects' before 
'Dream Quest Images' took over the FX work for Disney. 
John Carpenter directed a neat FX movie, a good last hurray for 'BVVE', packed with several nice old-school FX shots and lots of 
fuzzy CGI work.
'Stirber Visual Network' was on board for some cool Action Miniatures and Rick Baker and his team (Bill Sturgeon,...) designed the 
special makeup effects.
Yeah, we are surfing from the wrathful and dirty New York ('Escape from N.Y.') to the moody atmosphere of Los Angeles for a 
crazy Satire on the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
A multicolored fireworks!
Director John Carpenter and his DOP Gary B. Kibbe are looking for the best camera angle.
John Stirber's Stirber Visual Network was subcontracted by Buena Vista to stage and built quarter-scale Action Miniatures for some 
key scenes.  Earthquake FX.
A great one is the excellent breakdown (pyro charges) of the four-level Freeway scene in miniature, jazzed-up with several R/C car 
miniatures operated by Stirber's crew.
Peter Fonda, Director John Carpenter and Kurt Russell (Snake Plissken).
A bizarre sequel to the sci-fi cult favorite 'Escape from New York'.
John Carpenter and Kurt Russell - 'Escape from L.A.'
Snake Plissken is back! - What a Promotion shot. Kurt has fun, surrounded by beauties.
Costume Design by Robin Michel Bush ('Starman').

After the brilliant 'Grand Slam' (1967), Director Giuliano Montaldo staged another thrilling Heist flick.
Mister John Cassavetes is 'Machine Gun McCain', a first-class bank robber and tough criminal.
He is greedy and hungry for cash, a torpedo against the Mafia.
With him on the trip, the gorgeous looking Britt Ekland.
Peter Falk is pretty cool as leading Mafioso who enjoys making a few extra dollars.
Among the great supporting players are Gabriele Ferzetti, Tony Kendall, Florinda Bolkan and Gena Rowlands.
Spicy Italian ingredients, a good story and nice settings, but 'Machine Gun McCain' is not an explosive Italo Thriller in 
the vein of Fernando di Leo, Lenzi or Fulci.
It's a stylish, groovy and engrossing upper class Heist flick, enhanced by a fine Morricone score.
Winner!
Preparing a Casino Scene.
Director Giuliano Montaldo talks with the cool John Cassavetes and Britt Ekland (sexy costume!), September 1968.
Another very interesting Montaldo thriller is 'A Dangerous Toy' (1979), with Nino Manfredi, Marlène Jobert and Olga Karlatos.
Britt Ekland on Set with her daughter Victoria Sellers, September 1968.
Britt looks sad and worn out, which is completely understandable, the marriage with Peter Sellers is in deep trouble.
They were divorced on December 18, 1968. No Merry Christmas for the young family.
Victoria Sellers was born on January 20, 1965 in London.
Filming a scene for 'Machine Gun McCain', 1968. 
Britt Ekland - Victoria Sellers - Giuliano Montaldo.

The underrated Star laden train ride got often bad reviews because of the amateurish effects work of the renowned 'APOGEE' shop.
Cheapo miniature effects (Grant McCune) and unprofessional visual effects are embarrassing and half-hearted.
But, come on, 'Avalanche Express' is a nice little and simple cold war Spy thriller with interesting settings, good Players and 
the heavyweight celluloid hero Lee Marvin. The man is a king!
Unpretentious, honest Trash with light moments. 
The Warner Archive Collection made it possible, wonderful!
The excellent practical effects of 'Avalanche Express' were handled by the british 'big bang' maestro Kit West (1936-2016).
Here we see Kit on location for 'Avalanche Express' in the Station of Munich (Germany), simulating a blizzard with the help 
of Expyrol.
Expyrol Type F15 (yellow canister) is a special extinguishing foam for firefighters. Nice to simulate a loose snow cover.
The Italian FX boys often used shaving foam in the 60s/70s. Check out this: Il grande Silenzio.
Here you find an extensive report on the Physical Effects of 'Avalanche Express': Tickets Please

'The biggest bundle of them all' is a cheerful caper flick starring Raquel Welch, Vittorio de Sica, Robert Wagner and 
Edward G.Robinson.
In a crazy adventure a gang of naive crooks steal platinum ingots, worth several million dollars, from a train with the help 
of some heavy-duty Army equipment. 
The hobby pack stops the train with an army tank and transports the booty in a hijacked Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, wow!
Yeah, the movie offers some pretty ingenious ideas, but Director Ken Annakin (1914–2009) makes much too little of it.
It's all a bit too harmless and easy-going without real action, dynamism and tension.
On the other hand, there are some hot scenes with Raquel Welch in all her splendor and a few great moments of fun.
The Go-Go dancing club scene of Raquel and Edward G.Robison while Eric Burdon is singing 'The biggest bundle of them all' is 
top-notch entertainment.
The movie is pretty trivial, but beautiful. 
A motley comic heist flick with good approaches, avalaible on DVD as part of the Warner Archive collection.
Vittorio de Sica (1901–1974) was slightly injured during the heist scene, when a locomotive failed to stop in time...
Our novice gang of crooks want to stop the train full of platinum ingots with an Army tank.
To avoid damage to the rails, the FX Crew put heavy wooden planks between the tracks.
Vittorio de Sica hides behind the tank and hopes that everything goes well.
This looks harmless but the train must of course stop exactly on the right position. 
Precise timing is very important here (and difficult to manage!), otherwise the ton-heavy train crashes into the tank.
Goodbye Vittorio!
Of course the train fails to stop on the desired position and crashed into the tank. Uhhh..., that hurt's!
The heavy train pushes the tank from the wooden planks with a violent thrust. 
Vittorio is thrown to the tracks by the impact of the locomotive against the Army tank.
He was very very lucky and suffered only slight bruises and a shock.
The photographer of that blurred shot probably had a shock too.
I wonder why the crew of veteran practical effects supervisor R.A. MacDonald (1912–1989) tried such a risky scene, 
apparently without any safety buffers.
An accident on the set, nobody needs that.
After the first shock everybody wants to help Vittorio.
The chap with the megaphone in his hand is Director Ken Annakin.
Look at the boys in charge of the train. A dispute among colleagues. 'You blind mole...'
Everyone is worried about Vittorio. 
A serious accident. 
But with the best of luck an accident without great consequences, thanks God.
The shocked and exhausted actor returned to work after only two days.
The swinging song 'The biggest bundle of them all' is on the Eric Burdon & The Animals CD 'Eric is here', together with
some other cool tunes. 
A bunch of very nice Raquel Welch 'biggest bundle' bikini slides popped up on ebay recently. 
But ...uuuuh, 40, 50 or even over 60 bucks for a single 35mm slide is far out of my price range.
The smaller the bikini, the higher the price!

An exhaustive journey through the lonely desert in search of real heroism.
The 'Cordura' travel group travels under direction of Robert Rossen ('Alexander the Great', 1956).
His Players are well-known, but a bit lost in the desert. 
The great Gary Cooper, Richard Conte, Van Heflin and Tab Hunter are all not bad, but only Rita Hayworth offers a top performance.
The movie has editing problems and is not running smoothly. Individual scenes are great, but many opportunities were not used.
Nevertheless, I like the movie.
The color photography of Burnett Guffey ('Birdman of Alcatraz', 'Bonnie and Clyde') offers many beautiful pictures of a
dried out landscape. 
Without question, 'They Came to Cordura' has very powerful moments. 
Too bad that there are only so few.
The photo shows such a moment ...during a break! Gary Cooper explains Rita Hayworth the 3-Iron Golf Swing.
Filming 'They Came to Cordura', 1959.  Kodachrome 35mm Slide.
Gary Cooper (1901-1961) with Tab Hunter. Sitting in the chair, Director Robert Rossen.
Coop was already a bit too old for the role, but he played the coward/hero development quite cool. 
Tab has problems to control his 'Diva style'. But he's a good actor.
Coop, Tab and Director Robert Rossen, 1959. Kodachrome 35mm Slide.
An unusual Western, tough for the handful of Players and the numerous Makers, all 'tortured' by a relentless desert. 

'The Great Race' (1965) is an incredibly entertaining movie of epic splendor, directed by comedy specialist Blake Edwards.
A funny race around the World with brilliant performers and great moments of pure slapstick.
Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon), Maggie Dubois (Natalie Wood) and The Great Leslie (Tony Curtis) are the film's principals.
In some scenes the supporting players steal the show. Especially Maximillian (Peter Falk) as perfect sidekick for the evil professor.
And I love the terrific Saloon scenes with Lily Olay (Dorothy Provine).
The great Score of Henry Mancini and the perfect 'Look' of the picture by Production Design legend 
Fernando Carrere (1910–1998) are also first class.
Best entertainment!
The cult cars of the show were designed by Dean Jeffries and Art Director Fernando Carrere.
Dean Jeffries (1933-2013) was an American custom vehicle designer, fabricator, stuntman and stunt coordinator for motion pictures.
He designed Cars for 'The Green Hornet', 'Death Race 2000' and others.
Warner Bros craftsmen, Designer Dean Jeffries and mechanical effects wizard Danny Lee built the cars which are still alive (Museum, Collectors?).
The Veterans Johnny Borgese and Danny Lee (1919–2014) did the Special Effects for 'The Great Race'.
On the left you see the 'Hannibal 8', the Car of Professor Fate, equipped with numerous gimmicks (Cannon, Smoke Generator,..).
The photo on the right shows effects wizard Danny Lee with a miniature of the 'Maximilian' robot built for 
the Disney Science Fiction adventure 'The Black Hole', 1979.
One highlight of the film is the completely crazy pie throwing sequence. 
Hundreds or thousands (?) of pies were thrown, bowled and pushed into faces. 
Blake Edwards needed more than a week to shoot the sequence. 
Sweet but sticky shooting days.
Director Blake Edwards (middle) talking with Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood, 1965. 
(Kodachrome 35mm)

'Samurai Rebellion' (1967) is a very impressive Samurai Film of directing genius Masaki Kobayashi (1916–1996).
A masterpiece with perfect visual composition and great monochrome photography by cinematographer Kazuo Yamada.
See Japanese Top Players Toshiro Mifune (1920–1997) and Tatsuya Nakadai in thrilling and brilliantly choreographed fight scenes.
The film has an enormous power and charisma.
A little known classic, what a shame!
The photo shows Toshiro Mifune relaxing in his caravan during the production of 'Samurai Rebellion', 1967.
His Company, Mifune Productions Co. Ltd., was producing the show together with the Toho Company.
Two great Japanese Stars. Tatsuya Nakadai and Toshiro Mifune. 
Nakadai has also a starring role in 'Harakiri' (1962), another splendid Samurai film of Director Masaki Kobayashi.
'Samurai Rebellion', 1967 - Toshiro Mifune on Set with a Still Photographer. 
The photographer changes the lens.
As Producer, Toshiro must have his eyes everywhere...
See a comprehensive photo documentation on the Toho War Movie Epic 'Admiral Yamamoto' (1968) here: Toshiro Mifune.
With great Model Miniature Effects of mastermind Eiji Tsuburaya and Toshiro Mifune as Admiral Yamamoto.
A grand War Movie Epic of the 60s!

'The Southern Star' (1968) is a bumpy little adventure caper flick with a few funny moments, loosely based on a Jule Verne novel.
An illustrious team of Players with Ursula Andress, George Segal, Ian Hendry, Michael Constantin, Harry Andrews and
the big Orson Welles.
Orson Welles has this one brilliant crazy scene. He is playing a weird chess game and all the game figures are glasses full of whiskey.
He plays by his own rules, always wins and drinks all glasses! You must see this!
Orson Welles even directed the opening sequence with the discovery of the great diamond, the Southern Star.
The Photo shows Ursula Andress, George Segal and Johnny Sekka cruising through the plains of Senegal (Africa) in an oldtimer.
Close-Up shots during the car ride.
The crew dismantled the tires and attached the oldtimer to a special camera wagon for the Close-Ups. 
A wild looking construction, but fit for action.
Cinematographer Raoul Coutard and his favorite Camera Operator Georges Liron (sitting on the wooden beams) managed some great shots.
Both worked together very successful on movies like 'Pierrot le fou', 'Alphaville' or 'The 317th Platoon'.
'Etoile du Sud' written on the car is french for 'Southern Star'.
Michael Constantin is planning an ambush.
No problem for Ursula, the sniper. 
Another Close-Up, shot with the 'Etoile du Sud' wagon.
Ursula Andress takes George Segal out of prison with the help of the little white K1 'tank'.

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