Behind the Scenes – “The Picasso Summer” (1969) Crisis

The making of The Picasso Summer was an odyssey in itself but what happened to the picture on completion generated a crisis in Hollywood. Pablo Picasso in the early 1960s had apparently given “an enthusiastic endorsement” to American layout artist Wes Herchendson to animate some of his paintings. Some time afterwards, Hershendson came across sci-fi … Continue reading “Behind the Scenes – “The Picasso Summer” (1969) Crisis”

The Picasso Summer (1969) ***

Must-see for collectors of cinematic curios. A reflection on entitlement, bullfighting, Picasso, the impact of celebrity on everyday lives and the hermaphroditic qualities of snails? Or an innovative piece of moviemaking utilizing jigsaw split-screen, an audacious reimagining of the painter’s work via documentary and animation? Or just plain bonkers and despite the involvement of top … Continue reading “The Picasso Summer (1969) ***”

Book into Film – “Hot Enough for June”/ “Agent 8 3/4” (1964)

Timing is everything in the movie business. Had British film studio Rank shifted into top gear to adapt the best-selling thriller The Night of Wenceslas by Lionel Davidson soon after its publication in 1960 it would probably have been a completely different film to Hot Enough for June which took four years to reach the … Continue reading “Book into Film – “Hot Enough for June”/ “Agent 8 3/4” (1964)”

Hot Enough for June / Agent 8 3/4 (1964) ***

Thanks to his language skills unemployed wannabe writer Nicholas (Dirk Bogarde) is recruited as a trainee executive on a too-good-to-be-true job visiting a Czech glass factory  only to discover that while engaged on what appears a harmless piece of industrial espionage is in fact considerably more serious.  Complications arise when he falls in love with … Continue reading “Hot Enough for June / Agent 8 3/4 (1964) ***”

The Battle of the Villa Fiorita (1965) ****

One of the few romantic dramas of the 1960s to resonate today. Neglected wife Moira (Maureen O’Hara) abandons her two children to fly to the eponymous villa on Lake Garda in Italy to take up with composer Lorenzo (Rossano Brazzi).  While husband Darrell (Richard Todd) accepts the fait accompli, kids Michael (Martin Stephens) and Debby … Continue reading “The Battle of the Villa Fiorita (1965) ****”

Topkapi (1964) *****

The mother of all heists directed by the father of all heist pictures. Films as diverse as The Italian Job (1969), Mission Impossible (1996) and Ocean’s Eleven (2001) owe director Jules Dassin a massive debt since he pretty much invented this genre with the French-made Rififi (1955). But that involved professional criminals. Outside of masterminds … Continue reading “Topkapi (1964) *****”

The 355 (2022) *** – Seen at the Cinema

Serviceable actioner but proof that if you don’t have a star big enough to front  a shoot-‘em-up then sticking in another three – or four – actresses of equal, middling, or up-and-coming, status won’t do the trick, not if the characters lack the originality of a Bourne or Bryan Mills (Taken, 2008). There’s plenty of … Continue reading “The 355 (2022) *** – Seen at the Cinema”

When Box Office Stats Were Born – 1969

On January 1, 1968, U.S. trade newspaper Variety began working on a project that would change forever the way Hollywood operated and the way the public perceived motion pictures. It single-handedly invented box office statistics, the weekly tabulation that is life and death for industry professionals and a terrific game for outsiders, trying to guess … Continue reading “When Box Office Stats Were Born – 1969”

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