Movie studios kept a close watch on their actors’ private lives in the 1940s to the 1970s. It was important at that time for stars to have a wholesome image. That wholesomeness meant gay actors and actresses had to stay in the closest. Even heterosexual thespians had to project a squeaky-clean image, even if it was contrary to their real, off-screen lives. Scott Tyrnauer’s Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood explores the wild life of Scotty Bowers, a 95-year-old author and former Hollywood pimp to the stars.(Tyrnauer’s previous documentaries include Valentino: The Last Emperor and Studio 54). Bowers wrote
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The documentary gives us an interesting glimpse Hollywood’s gay “underground” during the 1940s and '50s.
The Public Image Is Rotten Movie Review: Traces the 40-year History of John Lydon and Public Image, Ltd.
What makes the film engaging is the no-BS honesty of all its interviewees.
Near the beginning of The Public Image is Rotten, a young John Lydon is asked how long he’ll live. “I’m one of the very few people in pop history who will not go away.” Forty years later, he’s still capturing the attention of fans and the media, whether he’s onstage making music or simply walking through an airport. His band, Public Image Ltd., has been together in one form or another for forty years, too. The Public Image is Rotten, a documentary about the band, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last year and is playing in limited engagement at
Boom For Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat Movie Review: A Look at the Creative Development of an Art Icon
Sara Driver's documentary uses archival footage and interviews with friends to retrace the artist's creative origins on the Lower East Side.
An untitled painting of a skull by Jean-Michel Basquiat sold for $110 million in 2017, making it one of the priciest artworks ever auctioned. That astronomical sum is light years away from anything in the New York City portrayed in Boom For Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Director Sara Driver’s documentary traces Basquiat’s creative origins through interviews and archival footage. To set the stage, Driver begins the film with audio of President Gerald Ford essentially telling the broke New York City to “drop dead” over clips of the grimy, abandoned Lower East Side. A Polish bar blared
Book Review: The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic by Richard Sandomir
A well-researched book that gives you the nuts and bolts of how one of the first major movie biopics was made.
Field of Dreams, The Natural, and Bull Durham may be the first movies that come to mind when you think of baseball, but the first classic baseball film, The Pride of the Yankees, was made in 1942. The story of Yankees’ great Lou Gehrig, who played in 2,130 consecutive games until he developed - and later died of - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), starred Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, and Walter Brennan, and is considered the first blockbuster sports movie. The climax of the movie is Cooper’s reenactment of Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man in the World” speech before his retirement, which is
A playful, gossipy look at the not-so-unlikely pairing between publicity-seeking actress Jayne Mansfield and Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey.
Directors Todd Hughes and P. David Ebersole take a quirky approach to the life of actress Jayne Mansfield with the documentary Mansfield 66/67. The film explores the last two years of the actress’ life, a chaotic time marked by a floundering career, rumors of satanic worship, and a gruesome end in a car crash at age 34. Mansfield 66/67 begins with a dance sequence with sequences throughout the film. I’ve never seen interpretive dance used as a storytelling tool in a documentary before, but somehow it fits right in with the "kooky bombshell meets devil worshipper" theme. Like Monroe, Jayne
Music Review: The Bottom Line Archive Series: Lou Reed and Kris Kristofferson: In Their Own Words with Vin Scelsa
The quirky and revealing Q&A, along with the impromptu performances, make this an interesting slice of rock history.
The Bottom Line, a rock and folk club in Greenwich Village from 1974 to 2004, featured performances by Bruce Springsteen, Dolly Parton, and Meat Loaf, among others. The music and commentary showcase In Their Own Words, a staple on rock station WNEW in the 1990s, was recorded at the club. The event, moderated by DJ Vin Scelsa, who also hosted the popular free-form radio show Idiot’s Delight, highlighted artists as diverse as Pete Seeger, Roger McGuinn, Shawn Colvin, Doc Watson, Joey Ramone, Jimmy Webb, and Barrett Strong. This episode of In Their Own Words features the unlikely duo of Kris
Documentary filmmaker Robert Mugge chronicles the devastation leveled on New Orleans and its musical community after Hurricane Katrina.
Unless you live in New Orleans or know someone who does, you might not have paid much attention to its reconstruction after Hurricane Katrina. Robert Mugge’s documentary, New Orleans Music in Exile, focuses on the lives of the city’s musicians in the aftermath of the hurricane, and how they dealt with the destruction of their homes, clubs, and livelihoods. Filmed by Mugge in 2005 and 2006, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Music in Exile chronicles the devastation leveled on New Orleans and its musical community firsthand. Musicians give the filmmaker a tour of their ravaged homes and businesses. Irma
Iconic comediennes Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball star in the 1966 TV special, which gives viewers a glimpse of what to expect a year later on The Carol Burnett Show.
The Carol Burnett Show, one of the most beloved variety shows of the late 20th century, debuted in 1967 and ran through 1978. Burnett’s early 1960s specials were the testing ground for the long running series. The Carol + 2 TV special aired on the CBS Television network, on March 22, 1966. Carol + 2 co-starred Carol’s precursor as TV’s first lady of comedy, Lucille Ball and Broadway actor Zero Mostel of Fiddler on the Roof fame. (Another special, co-starring Julie Andrews, aired in 1963.) In the mid-60s, before Amy Schumer, Chelsea Handler, and all of the anything-goes comediennes of
The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ covers everything you need to know about Frank-N-Furter and company and then some.
Richard O’ Brien’s gender-bending musical The Rocky Horror Show premiered in London in 1973, at the height of the U.K.’s glam-rock craze. Although most glam entertainment eventually dissipated, Rocky Horror remained the one true constant from that time, retaining its kitschy ‘70s glory throughout the decades. The film version introduced Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick and Meat Loaf to a worldwide audience and taught millions of devoted fans how to do “The Time Warp”. The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ from the Applause Books FAQ series, covers everything you need to know about Frank-N-Furter and company and then some.
The documentary examines the blues legend's life and music.
The latest installment of the PBS series, American Masters, documents the life and music of blues maestro Riley “B.B.” King. A sharecropper’s son who first played guitar in church, he also worked as a DJ before becoming the undisputed king of American blues (and an inspiration to countless rock musicians). This documentary features interviews with Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Ringo Starr, John Mayer, and other musicians. There are plenty of original and archival interviews with B.B., including one conducted on a trip back to his birthplace in Mississippi. It follows King’s story from his early life working in the cotton
Jaco is a balanced and compassionate look at the legendary jazz bassist.
“It’s not about bass playing, it’s about being a storyteller.” The documentary Jaco traces the life of iconic jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius, from his childhood in Florida and first gigs as a teenager to his innovative style of bass playing, work with Weather Report, and his untimely death at age 35. Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, the documentary’s producer, saw Weather Report in 1979, and the experience helped mould his own musical journey. Jaco compiles archival footage, home movies, personal photos and interviews to form a balanced and compassionate look at the groundbreaking musician’s life. Directed by Paul Marchand and Stephen
The Wait is Over: Frank Zappa and the Mothers legendary Roxy shows revisited.
The concert film Roxy:The Movie starring Frank Zappa and the Mothers, filmed in 1973 during a three-night engagement at Sunset Strip’s 500-seat Roxy Theatre, captures Zappa at a pivotal point - post-hippiedom and pre-mainstream media attention for Valley Girl and the PMRC hearings. We’ve heard bits and pieces of these concerts before, in Roxy and Elsewhere and You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, but an entire concert film escaped release due to a technical glitch at the time of recording. Forty-two years later, Roxy: The Movie has been released by Eagle Rock Entertainment, after some intense film and audio
It covers the history, and future, of backyard and basement punk-rock shows.
Pure punk rock, regardless of a band’s popularity or the decade in which they’ve performed, has pretty much been an underground form of music. Long associated with violence, destruction, and all-around malfeasance, young punk bands have always had a hard time getting gigs in normal, clean-cut venues. Daniel Makagon’s book, Underground: The Subterranean Culture of DIY Shows covers the scene in cities and towns of all sizes across the U.S., proving that punk is alive and well in places other than New York and Southern California. This informative, 192-page book is packed with interviews and histories of the DIY punk
A thorough look at the rise and fall of one of the 1990s great indie labels.
You hear a lot of praise about punk rock in the 1970s, but the ‘90s had a burgeoning punk scene, too. Bubbling just under the big alt-rock banner, punk bands proliferated mainly on the West Coast - Portland, Seattle, LA, San Francisco - and you usually didn’t see or hear of them unless you were into the scene or read Maximum Rock and Roll or other underground zines. San Francisco’s Lookout Records was at the forefront of that scene, releasing EPs, albums, and vinyl singles from ska punk band Operation Ivy, Mr. T Experience, the Donnas, Avengers, Rancid, Bratmobile, Screeching
Relive the last classic Stones era in this 1981 concert film.
Recently released from the Rolling Stones archives, this show took place on Keith Richards’ 38th birthday on Dec 18, 1981. The first pay-per-view concert ever, it captures the band during their prime, in their last U.S. tour until 1989’s Steel Wheels. Eagle Rock Entertainment’s 2 CD/DVD set comes with a booklet with a blow-by-blow description of the show and still photos from the performance. In this day of instant video streaming, the thought of waiting patiently by your analog TV, suffering through the same preview a half-dozen times before the show went live, seems like medieval torture. And the waiting
Psychedelic Resurrection is the first album from garage rock band the Blues Magoos in four decades.
The psychedelic sound of the late 1960s produced many bands with colorful names and one mainstream hit. The Vanilla Fudge, Electric Prunes, Bubble Puppy, Strawberry Alarm Clock, the Seeds (not a flashy name, but a major group in the genre), and the Blues Magoos. Hailing from the Bronx, the Blues Magoos formed in 1964 as the Trenchcoats, fusing garage rock with a hint of blues. Best known for their hit “(We Ain’t) Got Nothin’ Yet” and the electric suits they occasionally wore onstage, the band’s debut album Psychedelic Lollipop , released in November 1966, positioned the group as the East
Covers all the bases in the life of controversial pitcher Dock Ellis.
No No: A Dockumentary traces the colorful and complex career of MLB pitcher Dock Ellis, who pitched a no-hitter (or No No) on LSD in 1971. The infamous “no-no” is revisited by Dock, his teammates and sportswriters in No No, but director Jeff Radice’s film doesn’t dwell on that dubious achievement. It gives viewers a complex portrait of Ellis, who became a successful major league pitcher despite his battles with drug and alcohol addiction. Dock Ellis played in the major leagues from 1968 to 1979, most famously with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and later with the Mets and the Texas Rangers.
This expanded documentary is a must-have for fans of Syd Barrett and early-era Pink Floyd.
Syd Barrett’s tragic journey from being the creative force behind Pink Floyd to becoming a virtual recluse in a few short years is explored in The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story, a two-disc reissue of the 2005 documentary. Barrett led Pink Floyd to its early success, then succumbed to a LSD-fueled mental breakdown that resulted in him leaving the band. The documentary traces Barrett’s rise and fall through interviews with friends from his art-school days, bandmates, associates, and one of his girlfriends. There are clips from early videos and live performances as part of London’s psychedelic underground with Barrett
Watch the Flash, the Green Lantern, and the Atom battle evil-doers in this collection of animated adventures from 1967.
DC Comics Superheroes: The Filmation Adventures, Volume 1 contains nine animated adventures from The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure, which ran on CBS-TV for the 1967-68 season. It's a truncated version of the two-disc DC Super Heroes: The Filmation Adventures that featured all the show’s supporting superheroes - including Hawkman, Teen Titans, and the Justice League of America.. This volume has three adventures each from three other superheroes - Green Lantern, the Atom, and the Flash. Radiation, evil aliens, mad scientists, robot monsters, and giant insects are the bad guys in these short adventures, which run about seven minutes each. The
The documentary Birth of the Living Dead examines the evolution of the granddaddy of zombie films, Night of the Living Dead.
The Walking Dead , zombie conventions, Shaun of the Dead, and innumerable zombie novels all owe their existence to the granddaddy of them all, George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Birth of the Living Dead, Rob Kuhns’ documentary about the groundbreaking zombie film, doesn’t deliver any major revelations about the film, but it does include some interesting segments that show how the film has impacted society. In one segment, a literacy teacher in the Bronx shows the film as part of his class, and the kids love it. There’s an extensive interview with Romero weaved throughout the documentary, and
Here's Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection showcases one of the "buried gems" of early TV variety shows.
After Ernie Kovacs’ untimely death in a car crash in 1962, his widow, actress/singer Edie Adams, devoted herself to preserving his legacy - and tying up some loose ends Saddled with Kovacs’ unpaid tax bill, she set out to work to pay the IRS and ended up building an entertainment and business empire of her own. Her variety show, Here’s Edie (the name was changed to The Edie Adams Show for the second season) ran from April 1962 to March 1964, alternating with the Sid Caesar Show Thursdays on ABC. MVD Visuals four DVD Set, Here’s Edie: The Edie Adams
Dale Sherman takes a look at the end of the world - Hollywood-style in the book Armageddon Films FAQ.
Armageddon Films FAQ can be called a companion volume to Applause Books’ Horror Films FAQ in that there is some overlap. A few of the zombie films mentioned in Horror Films are also classified as Armageddon films, but most movies about the end of civilization stand in their own distinct genre. Author Dale Sherman covers over 20 genres of end-of-the world flicks in Armageddon Films FAQ. Body snatching, Satan, technology, the Rapture, evil animals, zombies, and aliens are just a few of the reasons humans cease to exist in the film world. The wealth of world-over films run the gamut
Horror Films FAQ is the thinking person's guide to the horror genre.
The FAQ series from Applause Books has devoted editions to pop culture staples like Kiss, the Beatles, Star Trek, and the Three Stooges. One of the publishing house’s latest releases tackles a much broader subject - horror films. Written by pop-culture critic John Kenneth Muir, whose previous books include Horror Films of the 1970s and The Encyclopedia of Superheroes on Film and Television, Horror Films FAQ explores horror films by format and decade. Each chapter is dedicated to a horror film type, with mini-essays about classics and underappreciated films. In the chapter "The Night Has Its Price," Muir examines vampire
Executive produced by Wendy Dio, Finding the Sacred Heart documents Ronnie James Dio at the top of his game.
First released in 1986 on VHS as an edited concert video, the full performance of late rock icon Ronnie James Dio and band at the Philadelphia Spectrum in 1986 is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD from Eagle Rock Entertainment. Remastered for optimal sound quality and restored for cleaner, clearer visuals, Finding the Sacred Heart: Live in Philly 1986 captures Dio during the height of his popularity (and the hard rock/metal craze of the ‘80s). This review describes the contents of the Blu-ray edition. Finding the Sacred Heart: Live in Philly 1986 is 100 minutes long and contains the Spectrum
Queen: Live at Wembley Stadium: 25th Anniversary Edition revisits one of the iconic group's most dynamic performances.
This two-disc DVD set from Eagle Rock Entertainment, commemorates the 25th anniversary of Queen’s iconic concerts at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1986. The DVD features the complete July 12, 1986 show at and the rain-soaked July 11th show in its entirety. The “Magic Tour,” designed to promote the album A Kind of Magic, was the original band’s last sojourn. Freddie Mercury passed away five years later. The Wembley shows highlighted the band at the top of their game- fresh off Live Aid and firmly ensconced as one of the world’s most iconic groups. “We Are the Champions” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,”
Adapted from Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, this tale of deception and murder made Alain Delon a star.
Purple Noon (Plein Soleil), Rene Clement’s 1960 film based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, is more brooding and unsettling than Anthony Minghella’s 1999 adaptation. Long before Matt Damon took on the role of Tom Ripley, French actor Alain Delon’s chiseled good looks and cool demeanor breathed life into Highsmith’s suave identity thief. The Criterion Collection released a restored version of Purple Noon on DVD (and Blu-ray) earlier this month. Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet), an arrogant, devil-may-care rich kid, is traveling through Italy spending his fortune. His concerned father back in America offers Ripley $5,000 to bring the
Director Marshall Lewy's character study explores the personal side of post-fame fallout.
California Solo, the latest film from director Marshall Lewy (Blue State), is about a musician’s journey of self-discovery and redemption. Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting, 28 Weeks Later) gives an understated performance as former Britpop star Lachlan MacAldonich. Lachlan’s rock ‘n’ roll days are behind him and he’s resigned to live a quiet life working on an organic farm in Southern California. His only connection to his past , a music podcast he hosts, focuses on musicians who’ve died tragically. Lachlan has a personal tie to the subject -- his brother Jed, the lead singer of the Cranks, his former band, died
Director and subject make an odd couple in this flawed but endearing documentary
Director Stephen Kessler didn’t idolize the usual guitar-toting rock star when he was a kid in Queens, NY. He idolized Paul Williams, the diminutive singer-songwriter who wrote many of the most famous radio hits of the 1970s , including such standards as the Carpenters "We’ve Only Just Begun" and "Rainy Days and Mondays." He co-wrote the Oscar-winning "Evergreen, (Theme from A Star is Born)" with Barbra Streisand and the Muppets’ "Rainbow Connection" and many other ubiquitous hits. But songwriting wasn’t his only claim to fame. Williams appeared on dozens of TV shows in the 1970s. Name any kitschy show (Circus
Before Star Trek, Roddenberry wrote and produced this military drama starring Gary Lockwood.
The Lieutenant, the first TV series written and produced by Gene Roddenberry, aired on NBC during the 1963-64 TV season. This hour-long military dram, set at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, follows the careers and personal lives of several Marine Corps officers and enlisted men, most notably main character Second Lieutenant William Tiberius Rice (yes, Roddenberry did like that middle name), played by Gary Lockwood. Rice, a charming and idealistic lieutenant, encounters everything from fear of flying in an air maneuver (“To Take Up Serpents”) to defending a fellow officer accused in a hit and run accident (“Fall from a
The film is one entertaining, but slightly bumpy, ride.
The third James Bond movie, Goldfinger, swung the franchise into full gear after Dr. No and From Russia with Love. Sean Connery's suave performance and Guy Hamilton's direction steer the Bond films into the foolproof template that they've followed for every succeeding film. The convergence of elements that carried over to the rest of the Bond films - the explosive pre-title sequence, the smart feisty Bond girls, dry humor even in the face of unspeakable danger, outrageous gadgets, and exotic locales. By the time Goldfinger became a hit, James Bond, his girls, and his gadgets spawned trading cards, comic
An overlooked proto-punk band from the 1970s is rediscovered.
While attending the Joey Ramone Birthday Bash in 2009, I noticed the headlining band was called Death. That doesn’t make any sense, I thought. The only band I know called Death is a death-metal band and that band is no more. What’s going on here? I soon found out when the proto-punk band Death performed for one of the first times since 1977. By the end of the first song, the crowd was cheering its approval. Later as the singer of opening band Rough Francis joined them for a song, it was revealed he was the son of Death’s singer/bass
Long-lost concert film reappears on DVD.
Cook with the Hook: Live in 1974, a restored film version of a John Lee Hooker concert in Gardner, Massachusetts, is one of the latest MVD Visual DVD titles. Best known for releasing quirky films and lesser-known titles by popular artists and directors, MVD has released over 2,000 titles since 1999. Cook with the Hook, a 45-minute black and white concert film, was recorded at a music festival, held in a landfill area in Gardner, Massachusetts. Thus, the concert series was named “Down in the Dumps.” It’s a weird setting for a concert, but the crowd of 6,000 didn’t seem
Laurent Bouhnik's erotic drama explores the lives of twentysomethings in a small French town.
French director Laurent Bouhnik’s romantic drama, Desire examines the sexual mores of a group of loosely connected friends and acquaintances in a quiet seaside village. Lead character Cécile (Déborah Révy), unable to accept her father’s recent death, wanders from one sexual encounter to another. Even though Cécile’s father has died, its hard to dredge up any sympathy for her as she meanders from lover to potential lover, targeting random strangers at cafes, good-natured auto mechanic Matt (Gowan Didi), teasing her sometimes boyfriend Chance (Johnny Amaro), and generally putting the make on others in her social group. An economic downturn has