Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Now Playing: JAN. 31, 1962.

As the month closes in Milwaukee, the hype is on for Stella Stevens as a film opens that is now best known as a dubious footnote in the career of its director and co-writer, John Cassavetes.

Too Late Blues is seen, along with Cassavetes's follow-up, A Child is Waiting, as studio-compromised setbacks for the maverick director of Shadows. It would not be until Cassavetes had established himself more securely as a movie star in films like The Dirty Dozen that he'd get to direct on his own independent terms. But let's see what the fuss was about, to the extent that the trailer,uploaded by HellsDonutHouse, can tell us.

The second feature is a late noir or post-noir with Jock Mahoney in modern dress prior to his two-film stint as Tarzan. Online it's easier to see the entire movie than see a trailer -- was one made? -- so follow the link here if you're interested.

In Salt Lake City, a rare British western, albeit set in modern Mexico, opens to inaugurate a former second-run house's new first-run-only policy.

The remarkable thing is that this isn't the only British western; here's a quick survey of the field. But if the Italians could get away with it later, then why not? But did the Brits get away with it? In lieu of a trailer, here's the opening section, including credits, uploaded by iloveslashymovies.

Reading PA,gets an Italian pirate movie with a rare starring role for lumbering western heavy and onetime Frankenstein monster Don Megowan. Regrettably, the film has left no trace to date online.


Down in Charleston, a new kind of biblical epic opens.

Not so new, actually. According to this account, Albert Zugsmith's production, co-directed by star Mickey Rooney, is a throwback to those old Cecil B. DeMille movies where a modern story would segue into a biblical flashback, or vice versa. Rooney is the snake, not Adam, as you'll see in this Edenic clip uploaded by the self-explanatory ilovemartinmilner.

About the second feature: The Pharaoh's Woman an Italian film about Egypt with an Argentine-American star directed by a Russian emigre who made movies in Germany under Hitler. Could you get more cosmopolitan? SapphoPEPLUM has the whole film in pieces; here's the first of those.

Addendum: For most people across the country, the most likely film on a local screen as the first month of 1962 closes is The Second Time Around, a Vincent Sherman comedy starring Debbie Reynolds and Andy Griffith. Another fairly common item that opened in various places that month is an authentic 1962 release that remains in rotation on the now-debased, commercialized-in-prime-time Fox Movie Channel.

Bruce Humberstone's Madison Avenue is a portrait of the Mad Men world from its own viewpoint, or that of the late Norman Corwin, though most of the picture takes place in Washington D.C. A chain-smoking Dana Andrews is a high-powered ad exec who finds himself maneuvered out of his job but maneuvers himself for a comeback by more-or-less taking over a D.C. ad firm from its heiress owner (Eleanor Parker), whom he transforms into a glamourpuss. All the better to seduce eccentric milk executive Harvey Holt Ames (Eddie Albert) whose initials and enthusiasm for model helicopters signal another caricature of Howard Hughes. Andrews pushes Albert to take over a national milk combine, the better to take revenge on the rival who cost him the national account. Romantically, he's torn between the newly glamorized Parker character and a reporter girlfriend (Jeanne Crain), and overall the film shares many of the organization-man anxieties of the era. It does so tepidly and in drab black and white, and the film never gets into the political territory that my local cable guide promised. The film is a footnote to pop culture history insofar as it seems to be the picture that earned character actor David White his spot as Larry Tate on the Bewitched show after playing an ad agency boss here. You can watch the whole thing with "limited commercial interruption" on Hulu or IMDB, or you can catch it some morning when it's still safe to watch Fox Movie.

That's enough for one day and one month, don't you think? But there are eleven months to go!...

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