Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Sequel to "Creature From The Black Lagoon"

1955 promotional ad for Universal Studios'
second "gill-man" feature,
Revenge Of The Creature
To cash in on the success of the aforementioned 1954 film, Universal decided to make a sequel- titled Revenge of The Creature. Directed by Jack Arnold, the film featured John Agar, Lori Nelson, and John Bromfield.  In the second installment, a group of scientists capture the "gill-man", and is put on display at an ocean park in Florida (the actual location used for filming was California's Marineland of the Pacific).

Just like its predecessor, Universal released the film to cinemas in both polarized 3-D and standard 2-D versions for exhibition (most cinema venues in the nation showcased the film in 2-D).  Hoping that it would be more popular than Creature of the Black Lagoon, audiences and critics were disappointed in the sequel.  Universal produced a third (and final) installment of this film series, The Creature Walks Among Us in 1956.

Some 26 years later, Universal syndicated Revenge Of The Creature to local stations- not in polarized 3-D, but in anaglyph 3-D (the iconic red-and-blue 3-D method).  Local stations were encouraged to team up with area merchants to provide 3-D glasses to customers, in order to promote the 3-D telecast of the film.

One example would be Chicago station WFLD (an independent owned by Field Enterprises at the time), which teamed up with Chicago-area 7-Eleven stores to give away 3-D glasses to customers to promote the local telecast- hosted by Son of Svengoolie (portrayed by Rich Koz).  Examples of the July 1982 telecast can be found through archivist Rick Klein's, The Museum of Classic Chicago Television.

Nearly 32 years later, the film was seen recently (in 2-D) on MeTV Network, and their Saturday night showcase of classic Universal horror/sci-fi features- hosted by Svengoolie (Koz- whose iconic Universal horror showcase has been seen nationally since 2011- when Chicago's MeTV Network launched on television stations across the nation).  Throughout the month of July, Svengoolie showcased the entire Universal "gill-man" trilogy.

More on Svengoolie will be featured in an upcoming edition of At The Matinee.  For those who haven't seen his Saturday night MeTV show, check it out sometime (check local listings for channel).  It is also available on DVD, as part of Universal's Creature From The Black Lagoon: The Legacy Collection box set of the complete trilogy.

FUN FACT: Revenge of The Creature was lampooned on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) around 1996, when that iconic program moved from Comedy Central to the Sci-Fi Channel (unfortunately known today as "Syfy").

Thursday, July 10, 2014

MGM is still neglecting "The Alamo" (1960)

From a 1960 issue of Motion Picture Daily 
(on United Artists releases for 1960).
Since the end of May, numerous film enthusiasts and archivists have called on MGM to restore the "roadshow" version of The Alamo.  This ongoing issue in the field of film preservation has gained significant media attention.  Many (including the author of this blog) have informed MGM that preservation work on the film needs to begin immediately.   This author has also written to The Library of Congress, so that The Alamo can be nominated in this year's National Film Registry.

As of this writing, MGM is still ignoring all options from the film community to save The Alamo.  A new article has appeared on The Digital Bits, written by columnist Bud Elder ("View from the Cheap Seats"). Elder explores the production history of the film, how Wayne's production company (Batjac) originally held  the rights to the film (until selling the rights to the film's distributor, United Artists), and film preservationist Robert A. Harris' warning on MGM's unwillingness to restore the film.

If anyone from the current incarnation of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) is reading this post, please consider restoring The Alamo.  The studio shouldn't be fooling around, they should be focused on preserving the vintage John Wayne film (with outside restoration experts) for all generations to see.  If the studio isn't willing to do this, they should let outside film preservation groups work on restoring the complete "roadshow" version of the picture.

To those that haven't informed MGM, tell them to save the complete "roadshow" version of The Alamo (via the studio's Facebook and Twitter feeds- in a positive manner).  The vintage John Wayne feature film should not be neglected, it should be preserved for all generations to see.

UPDATE: Two recent awareness videos (on MGM's ignorance of The Alamo) have appeared on YouTube- one from Mr. Chris Coombs, and another from Mr. Kevin T. Rodriguez (of The Movie Wizard).

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert in
Life Itself, a Magnolia Pictures release.
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures. Photo credit: Kevin Horan
STILL NO WORD (YET) ON "LIFE ITSELF" IN THE FREDERICK AREA:  If you've read the July 2nd edition of At The Matinee, you may have heard about the new documentary on the life and legacy of the late film critic Roger Ebert, titled Life Itself.  ATM is still waiting for comment from the management of MDL Holiday Cinemas (which usually screens second-run theatrical features) to show the Ebert documentary in the area.

ATM and its proprietor hopes to hear from them soon.  If talks falter (between ATM and the Holiday), the author may have to contact another venue for interest in screening the film*.  As I've stated before, since this documentary is being released by Magnolia Pictures- it is being released on various platforms (in addition to cinema exhibition).  According to a recent article in Variety, Life Itself will be telecast on CNN later this year (this film was co-produced by the network's CNN Films unit).

In my view, I think it would be best for the Frederick area to have Life Itself shown on the big screen.

*If any readers of this blog know of some venue (in the Frederick area) that would be interested in screening Life Itself, feel free to drop a line (in the "comments" section of this blog).  Information for theaters (or venues) that would like to screen Life Itself can be found at this link.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Fourth from "At The Matinee"

1959 Trade ad for United Artists and
their package of pre-1948 Warner Bros.
features (for TV), showcasing the 1942 
James Cagney musical Yankee Doodle Dandy.
NOTE: This was when UA had the rights
to the pre-1948 WB features.
At The Matinee wishes everyone out there a happy, fun, and safe Fourth of July weekend!

Turner Classic Movies will be showing many classics (in honor of America's day of Independence), including Yankee Doodle Dandy (which is featured on this post, and will air on the network at 4:15 PM EST), along with several Warner Bros. Technicolor short subjects related to the founding of the United States- Give Me Liberty (a 1936 short on Patrick Henry at 6:00 AM EST), Sons of Liberty (a 1938 short with Claude Rains as Haym Saloman at 8:45 AM), and The Declaration of Independence (also from 1938, which will air at 1:00 PM).

Other films that will be on that day's lineup are the 1972 adaptation of the musical 1776 (at 1:30 PM), a 1959 film on the life of John Paul Jones (with Robert Stack at 6:30 AM), The Howards of Virginia (1940, with Cary Grant & Sir Cedric Hardwicke at 9:15 AM), The Scarlet Coat (1955, with Cornel Wilde, Anne Francis, and George Sanders at 11:15 AM), and The Devil's Disciple (1959, with Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas and Lawrence Oliver at 6:30 PM).  Future articles on the aforementioned films will be featured on ATM in the near future.

Of course, it wouldn't be Independence Day without the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, which will air live on ESPN2 at 2:00 PM (a repeat broadcast will begin at 6:30 PM).

And there's always A Capitol Fourth on PBS (with Tom Bergeron as host), live at 8:00 PM.

INTERESTING FILMS (AT THEATERS) FOR THE FOURTH:  If you've read the last post on At The Matinee, then you know that Life Itself (a documentary about the life and legacy of the late, renowned film critic Roger Ebert) is being released nationwide.  It will be shown in theaters (and universities) on the fourth (and on various dates thereafter).  ATM is still waiting for correspondence from MDL Holiday Cinemas, on a possible screening of the film (hopefully sometime in the near future).

And let's not forget about Janus Films' revival screening of A Hard Day's Night (in honor of The Beatles' 50th anniversary, the film was released on July 6th, 1964) on the same day.  Rolling Stone had a recent interview with Ryan Hullings, who works as an audio supervisor for Janus/Criterion (along with Giles Martin, son of The Beatles' producer Sir George Martin) on restoring the audio content for the film.

Yet unfortunately, the Frederick area will miss out on the big-screen revival of A Hard Day's Night.  The closest theaters that will show the film are the West End Cinema in Washington, D.C., the Angelika Film Center at Mosaic in Fairfax, the Alamo Drafthouse cinemas in Ashburn (Loudon County) and Winchester, Virginia; the historic Senator Theatre in Baltimore, and the Cinemark Egyptian 24 (at Arundel Mills) in Hanover, Maryland.

The film is now available on DVD & Blu-Ray disc (via The Criterion Collection).  Though this author has seen the brilliant Janus restoration on TCM, it would be nice to see A Hard Day's Night on the big screen in the area (without having to travel far).

It would be great if Janus/Criterion would offer some similar option to theaters that Magnolia is doing with Life Itself (where theaters can easily request possible screening dates from the distributor, as shown here).

To all of the cinema venues in the Frederick area, you're missing out on several big opportunities. We cinephiles want to see vintage films that are being re-released!

With all that aside, do something great (and exciting) on the Fourth.  Happy Independence Day to all of our readers!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"Life Itself" should be shown in Frederick

There are many attractions during the summer- fireworks, festivals, concerts- and movies.  There's those typical "summer blockbusters" in cinemas (and multiplexes) throughout the nation (mostly horror flicks, properties that are based off of action figures, computer-generated features, and unusual comedies).

Documentaries are often ignored (or overlooked) by theaters in the Frederick, Maryland area.  In this author's view, it is unfortunate that these types of films (along with art-house and vintage features) are being under-appreciated in the area.

Roger Ebert (1942-2013) and Gene Siskel (1946-1999) in Life Itself,
a Magnolia Pictures release.  Photo Credit: Kevin Horan
There is one feature-length documentary that I would like to see on the big screen.  Life Itself- a motion picture about the life and legacy of renowned film critic Roger Ebert (1942-2013).  The film is directed by Steve James.  The producers of the documentary are Zak Piper, James Basch, and Garrett Bash.   Martin Scorsese and Steven Zallian served as executive producers of the film.  The Ebert documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

Life Itself will be released to theaters (and universities) nationwide on July 4th.  According to the list of theaters (and venues) that are showing the documentary- none of the theaters in the Frederick, Maryland area are listed.  The closest cinema venue would be the Landmark E Street Cinema in Washington, D.C.

Many of the theaters (listed on the film's website) have Life Itself scheduled for various dates (after July 4th), with the last exhibition date slated for August 22nd (at the University of Wisconsin).

The film is being released by Magnolia Pictures, a company that is known for releasing their line of feature films on various platforms in addition to cinema exhibition (on the same release date).  Magnolia has offered an option for theaters and venues who are interested in showing Life Itself- on the film's website, exhibitionists can request a screening of the film for their cinema (or venue).

At The Matinee has suggested this documentary to the management of MDL Holiday Cinemas, so that they might be interested in showing the film (in the near future).  Be on the lookout for future updates on this.  I think it would be great for the Frederick area to showcase Life Itself on the big screen.

NOTE: I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with the "summer blockbusters" in theaters (that are close to ATM's home base)- I just think there should be more variety when it comes to movie choices in the area.