Sunday, November 25, 2012

Movie Ad of the Week: DIRTY PICTURES (1975)

Umberto Lenzi's UN POSTO IDEALE PER UCCIDERE (1971) -- starring Irene Papas, Ray Lovelock and Ornella Muti, and best known as OASIS OF FEAR -- was released in the U.S. in late 1974 by International Cine Film as DIRTY PICTURES. The ad above is from a Paris, TX playdate beginning January 15, 1975. The co-feature is Maurizio Lucidi's LA VITTIMA DESIGNATA (1971), a STRANGERS ON A TRAIN-like thriller starring Tomas Milian and Pierre Clémenti.

Above is an ad for another DIRTY PICTURES booking, this one in Biloxi, MS on July 23, 1975. The co-feature is Claude Chabrol's DOCTEUR POPAUL (1972), starring Jean Paul Belmondo, Mia Farrow and Laura Antonelli, released here by International Cine Film under the title PLAY NOW, PAY LATER. It was re-released by Independent Artists in 1981 as HIGH HEELS.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Movie Ads of the Week: COCKFIGHTER (1974), WILD DRIFTER (1974) and BORN TO KILL (1975)

Monte Hellman's COCKFIGHTER (1974), based on the 1962 paperback original by Charles Willeford, was never going to be an easy movie to market, but producer Roger Corman changed the title three times in less than a year and still couldn't come up with a campaign that attracted many ticket buyers. Jim Hillier and Aaron Lipstadt's 1981 book Roger Corman's New World (BFI Dossier #7) gives a release date of June 27, 1974 for COCKFIGHTER, but our research is more in line with Variety's, which reported in June of 1975 that the movie had debuted in the southern U.S. in August '74. We've confirmed playdates for that month in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and the Carolinas (The above ad is from August 16, 1974 in Statesville, NC).

Undeterred by the movie's failure at the box-office, Corman changed the title to WILD DRIFTER, then GAMBLIN' MAN, for test dates like the one above in Joplin, Missouri on October 25, 1974. BIG BAD MAMA, a recent hit for New World, was the wisely chosen co-feature.

By March of 1975, the title was BORN TO KILL and car crash-and-burn footage from NIGHT CALL NURSES and CANDY STRIPE NURSES had been cut into the film as a dream sequence to justify its use in the new action-packed trailer. BIG BAD MAMA was still the co-feature for drive-in dates...

...while the ad campaign above was probably intended for general indoor, arthouse and college bookings following the film's appearance on Sight & Sound magazine's "best of" list for 1974.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Movie Ad of the Week: SEX IN THE COMICS (1972)

SEX IN THE COMICS is a live action attempt to recreate the notorious adults only "eight pager" comic books (Tijuana Bibles) of yesteryear, starring porn actors like Ric Lutze and Rick Cassidy hiding behind pseudonyms ("Lance Hardon" "Reggie Balls") while wearing masks of famous comic strip characters Dagwood, Dick Tracy, Barney Google and others. One of the performers appears to be Duke Mitchell?! Directed by "Eric Von Letch" (rumored to be Anthony Spinelli), SEX IN THE COMICS opened in two porn houses in New York City on December 20, 1972 (The IMDb has it listed as a 1974 release). Ads for SEX IN THE COMICS appeared in all the New York newspapers except the Daily News, which advertised it as THE 8 PAGERS.

In 2003, Chris interviewed makeup artist Byrd Holland for Fangoria. The following exchange is taken from the resulting article, "Horror Out of the Box" (Fangoria #231, April 2004, pg. 68-71, 80)...

BYRD HOLLAND: In the early 1970s, I was approached to do a film, and they had a budget where I could do my thing, make castings of faces, sculpt and create prosthetics. They wanted me to do Dick Tracy and other famous cartoon characters, men and women --


BYRD HOLLAND: Was that it? I was a little suspicious at first. I asked if they had the rights to use those characters, and they indicated that they did. I was excited about the project, but then the production manager said to me, “Don’t worry, if the police happen to come, we have a buzzer and the red lights will go on -- we'll move you right out the back door, no one will ever know you’ve been here.” I said, “If the police come for what?” He said, “This is an X-rated movie.” I said, “You’re talkin’ to the wrong man!” and I just got up and walked out. [Laughs] Only in Hollywood can you be interviewed for a job in a legitimate profession and get told “You’ll be protected in case the police show up!”

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Updating the IMDb: The Seattle Edition

Temple of Schlock's friend in Seattle, John Black, told us a while back that his hometown had played host to a number of exclusive movie premieres in the early 1970s, but we only recently got around to investigating his claim. Boy, he wasn't kidding! Here are two major finds that we unearthed within minutes of threading the first reel of microfilm through the viewer.

THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY, writer-director Michael Roemer's second narrative indie feature (following the brilliant NOTHING BUT A MAN), opened in one Seattle theater for a week-long "world premiere" on January 27, 1971.

This quirky, b&w, New York-shot ethnic comedy -- filmed two years earlier -- would've attracted more attention and done some business if it had debuted a few blocks south of 14th Street instead of three thousand miles west of the Hudson. According to Seattle Times critic John Hartl in the review below, the film's "only appreciative audience may be Jewish bookies living in the Bronx."

After this not-so-impressive debut, Roemer put THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY on a shelf and forgot about it for 18 years.

In September 1989, THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY was screened during the Toronto and New York Film Festivals. Press coverage at the time detailed the film's disappearing act without ever mentioning its week-long run in Seattle, alluding instead to a "screening" that failed to secure a distribution deal (New Yorker Films finally released the film theatrically in January 1990). Some sources even claimed that THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY had languished for years unfinished. "Roemer actually shot this film, his second feature, in 1969," wrote Pete Travers in Rolling Stone, "but only recently found the money to complete postproduction."

It’s understandable why Roemer would avoid all discussion of the one-week Seattle engagement, since any kind of theatrical release would’ve made the film ineligible for the major festivals. However, we believe that 20+ years is well past the statute of limitations for this sort of thing, so THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY should now be considered a 1971 film, with January 27, 1971 (Seattle, WA) listed on the IMDb as the official release date.

Less than a month after THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY blew in and out of town, Skip Sherwood's spaced-out independent film DIDN'T YOU HEAR? opened in nine Seattle-area theaters on February 24, 1971. Billed as "The first completely electronically scored motion picture" and shot in widescreen Techniscope at the University of Washington and in the San Juan Islands during the summer of 1970, DIDN'T YOU HEAR? is of interest today for its early lead performances by Dennis Christopher, Gary Busey, and MACON COUNTY LINE's Cheryl Waters. A wider release through Futurama International was scheduled for June 1972, but we've found no evidence of additional playdates.

Skip Sherwood Productions renewed the copyright in 1983, which was the date ascribed to the film when it began showing on TV in 1985. A video release through American National Enterprises (A.N.E.) Home Video/Prism Entertainment also occurred in 1985, but the IMDb considers this a 1983 release. The date should be changed to 1971, with February 24, 1971 (Seattle, WA) submitted as the official release date.