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Friday, February 5, 2016

IFC Midnight presents "ROAD GAMES"--Opening Day Announcement






After a disastrous summer trip, Jack finds himself hitchhiking through the sun-drenched rural French countryside with nothing but his British passport.

Unaware of dangers that are plaguing the roads, he tries without much success to get home. Along the way, he partners up with another hitchhiker, a beautiful French girl, Véronique. But when they accept a ride from a local oddball (Frédéric Pierrot), the pair finds themselves thrown in a deadly game of cat and mouse in which nothing is what it seems.

Bursting with nonstop twists and turns and an undercurrent of Hitchcockian malice, this riveting psychological thriller is a hell of a rdie. Legendary cult actress Barbara Crampton co-stars.

Release Date: Friday, March 4 (NY and LA / VOD)
Distributor: IFC Midnight
Director:  Abner Pastoll
Written By: Abner Pastoll
Producers: Junyoung Jang
Starring: Andrew Simpson, Josephine De La Baume, Frederic Pierrot, Barbara Crampton, Feodor Atkine,
Rating: Not Rated
TRT:  95 minutes


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Jonas Cuaron, Award-Winning Writer of "GRAVITY", Set to Write and Direct New "ZORRO"


The Lantica Media and Sobini Films Production is due
to Begin Principal Photography Summer 2016

LOS ANGELES, CA -- Lantica Media and Sobini Films announced today that they will produce the new film, Z, from award-winning writer of the film Gravity, Jonás Cuarón.  Cuarón recently wrote and directed Desierto which won the International Critics’ Award at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival and is slated for release this spring by STX.  Lantica Media’s CEO Antonio Gennari and Sobini Films’ CEO Mark Amin made today’s announcement.

“When I saw Desierto, I was impressed with Jonás’s command of action and suspense, his great visual eye, and the strong performances he elicited from his actors,” said Amin.

“We are quite fortunate to have Jonás on this film,” commented Gennari.  “His love of cinema is evident in his work and he is very talented in his ability to tell a compelling story.  We look forward to seeing where his vision will take us.”  

Lantica Media will finance the film which is due to begin principal photography in the Summer 2016 at the Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios.  Pantelion Films will handle international sales.  Details of the project are being kept under wraps, but sources believe the film will be a new take on the beloved masked character of Zorro.

Veteran producer Amin, whose credits include the upcoming Sony Classics release Miles Ahead, as well as Good Kill and Frida, will produce the film with Albert Martinez Martin overseeing production for Lantica Pictures.  Cami Winikoff and David W. Higgins are set to executive produce on behalf of Sobini. 

About Lantica Media
Lantica Media ( is an innovative media company that invests across several segments of the entertainment industry.  Its subsidiaries offer world-class studio facilities and production services as well as production, financing and distribution solutions for films and television shows.

The company's operating units currently include Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios and Lantica Pictures. Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios is a state-of-the-art film and TV studio established with Pinewood Studios Group plc.  Lantica Pictures develops, finances and produces original content for English and Spanish language audiences.

Lantica Media is an asset managed by VICINI’s Terra-RD platform.

About Sobini Films
Sobini Films, an independent production and finance company that focuses on feature films and long-form television, is headed by Mark Amin, veteran producer, distributor and financier whose credits include FRIDA, GOOD KILL, EVE’S BAYOU, and STONEHEARST ASYLUM. The company also has the upcoming MILES AHEAD, directed by and starring Don Cheadle as Miles Davis, which just sold in a bidding war to Sony Classics as well as RUSS & ROGER GO BEYOND, starring Will Ferrell and Josh Gad.

About Pantelion Films
Pantelion Films is the first major Latino Hollywood studio and the new face of Hispanic entertainment.  Launched in 2010, Pantelion releases include the breakout hit Instructions Not Included, the recent box office success Cantinflas which achieved the highest per screen average of any film in nationwide release on its opening weekend as well as films such as Pulling Strings, Casa de mi Padre and From Prada to Nada. 


THE AFRICAN QUEEN -- Movie Review by Porfle

THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951) is the story of two people you'll want to get  to know very much--Humphrey Bogart as Charlie Allnut, a goodnaturedly uncouth little man who runs a tiny supply boat up and down the river in German East Africa in 1914, and Katharine Hepburn as Miss Rose Sayer, a Christian missionary who, along with her brother Reverend Samuel Sayer (Robert Morley), brings God's word to the natives until German soldiers burn down the church and village, kill her brother, and leave her all alone in the jungle.

Director John Huston deftly blends comedy with tragedy in the opening scenes.  Shortly before their horrific encounter with the German military, the Sayers invite Charlie to tea during a supply stop.  He hasn't eaten in awhile, so his stomach starts making the most impolite growling noises to which Rose and her brother react with growing dismay until finally Charlie explains brightly, "Ain't a thing I can do about it!" 

Charlie returns later to bury the brother and take Rose away in his boat, the "African Queen".  But her first thought is to somehow aid in her country's war effort by whatever means available.  Hearing of a German gunboat, the "Louisa", which is terrorizing the countryside from a large lake somewhere downriver, she hatches a scheme in which Charlie will devise a couple of torpedos out of compressed gas bottles, with which they will then ram the Louisa with the torpedos sticking out of the African Queen's bow. 

Humoring her for the time being--and not realizing that he has begun something he won't be able to back out of--he later mocks Miss Sayer's request in a grumbling approximation of her prim accent: "Can you make a torpedo?  Then do so, Mr. Allnut." 

This belly-laugh moment, courtesy of Bogart's irresistibly natural, likable performance as the ragtag river rat, is just the beginning of what will be a rip-roaring adventure, a tender romance, and a gut-busting comedy.  The independent production, filmed mostly on location in Africa in lush Technicolor, is one of John Huston's warmest and most heartfelt films.  This is due in large part to the chemistry between the two stars and Huston's ability as a master director to showcase them at their best.

Miss Rose Sayer is naturally brave and resourceful, which helps make up for her naivete' and inexperience with life in general.  She adapts quickly and becomes instantly addicted to the thrill of adventure as a substitute for sexual intimacy (her first excursion down the rapids leaves her as though she'd just had her first sexual release). 

Learning to handle Allnut's boat is symbolic of her growing familiarity with the man himself while he, in turn, finds himself suddenly yearning to bring out the inner woman behind the straight-laced exterior. 

Allnut is one of Bogart's funniest and most uninhibited characters--his emotional honesty and expressiveness are at their peak here.  Often a single look on his face will convey more thought and emotion than many actors can manage with an entire speech. 

Hepburn is ideally cast as the initially very proper, timid spinster who gradually lets her hair down (literally) and begins to appreciate the more sensual and even carnal aspects of life as her love for Charlie Allnut blossoms toward fruition.

Their journey down the river is a series of funny and romantic vignettes interspersed with moments of harrowing danger which are excitingly staged.  The rapids are a major obstacle, as are mosquitoes, leeches, and, in one suspenseful sequence, German bullets.  Through it all, Rose's indefatigable attitude brings out the best in Charlie, and together they give each other something to live for even when things are at their worst.

Huston's technical skills are dazzling throughout the film.  The location photography is not only stunning but often amazing as well, as when we see a number of large alligators diving off the bank into the water right after Bogart has moved out of the frame--all in a single shot.   The process shots are as well integrated into the action as possible for the time and, for me at least, proved little distraction.  Allan Gray's musical score is another of the film's many pleasures. 

The story reaches its triumphant conclusion aboard the German gunboat, where our unlikely hero and heroine reach the end of their journey in fine style.  Like SHANE, which is tied with KING KONG (1933) as my favorite movie of all time, there are scenes throughout THE AFRICAN QUEEN which bring me to the verge of tears.   Not because these scenes are particularly sad, or particularly happy, but simply because they're quite disarmingly beautiful. 

Read our review of the BEST OF BOGART COLLECTION


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

New True Crime Doc Collection from AMC's SundanceNow Doc Club


New York, NY (February 3, 2015) - SundanceNow Doc Club, the advertising-free boutique SVOD service dedicated to documentaries and independent film from AMC Networks, announced today a new "True Crime" collection, including the seminal 10-part docu-series THE STAIRCASE.

Thom Powers, resident curator of SundanceNow Doc Club, noted the increasing popularity of this genre of documentary films, saying: "True crime documentaries are enjoying a moment right now, though the genre has a timeless appeal. These films captivate viewers by offering them an intimate, detailed look at real people going through extraordinary circumstances. SundanceNow Doc Club is proud to present this collection, including a presentation of THE STAIRCASE, which has long been the gold standard for true crime docu-series."

The films featured in the collection include:


In 2001, Michael Peterson made a 911 call that would launch one of the most stunning and complex trials of our times. Devastated that his wife had fallen to her death in their North Carolina mansion, he was utterly shocked when the District Attorney arrested him for murder. According to friends and family, the marriage of Michael and Kathleen Peterson had been a loving, wonderful relationship. But as investigators found her body lying in a sea of blood, they suspected all was not right. What emerged was a series of outrageous revelations they never could have expected. From illicit sexual activities to political intrigue to possible links to another death, the Peterson case became front-page news across the nation. Directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade.


THE THIN BLUE LINE is Errol Morris's fascinating, controversial true story of the arrest and conviction of Randall Adams for the murder of a Dallas policeman in 1976. Billed as "the first movie mystery to actually solve a murder," the film is credited with overturning the conviction of Randall Dale Adams for the murder of Dallas police officer Robert Wood, a crime for which Adams was sentenced to death. With its use of expressionistic reenactments, interview material and music by Philip Glass, it pioneered a new kind of non-fiction filmmaking. Its style has been copied in countless reality-based television programs and feature films.


In BROTHER'S KEEPER, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky explore the world of the elderly Ward brothers -- disheveled, illiterate farmers who have lived their entire lives in a dilapidated two-room shack. When William Ward dies in the bed that he shared with his brother Delbert, police officers become suspicious. Citing motives ranging from sex crime to euthanasia, they arrest Delbert for murder, penetrating the isolated, antiquated world that left "the boys" forgotten eccentrics for so many years.


In his fascinating exploration of a triple homicide case in Conroe, Texas, master filmmaker Werner Herzog probes the human psyche to explore why people kill-and why a state kills. In intimate conversations with those involved, including 28-year-old death row inmate Michael Perry (scheduled to die within eight days of appearing on-screen), Herzog achieves what he describes as "a gaze into the abyss of the human soul." Herzog's inquiries also extend to the families of the victims and perpetrators as well as a state executioner and pastor who've been with death row prisoners as they've taken their final breaths. As he's so often done before, Herzog's investigation unveils layers of humanity, making an enlightening trip out of ominous territory.


When a 15-year-old black teenager is put on trial for the killing of an elderly white woman in Jacksonville, FL, his defense team uncovers appalling evidence of police misconduct. Shot right before THE STAIRCASE, the Academy Award-winning MURDER ON A SUNDAY MORNING is Jean-Xavier de Lestrade's scathing indictment of the American justice system - and a white-knuckle thriller at that.


Nick Broomfield's documentary looks at Aileen's violent, tortured childhood in Troy, Michigan and her subsequent years on the road as a hitch-hiking prostitute which culminated in the murders. In her last interview, conducted by Broomfield at Aileen's request, she said she believed her mind was being controlled by radio waves. On October 9th 2002 she was executed in Florida.


A hitch-hiking prostitute, she killed seven of her clients, and ended up on death row in the State of Florida facing the electric chair. The three main characters are Aileen Wuornos, whom we see in prison, her born-again Christian mother, Arlene Pralle, who adopted Aileen in 1991, and her lawyer, Steve Glazer. Nick Broomfield's film raises a number of questions about official corruption, not least of which is whether in fact she is a serial killer at all, or if that label is just a commercial means of selling Aileen Wuornos and her story.


On the Philippine island of Cebu, two sisters leave work and never make it home. That same night, hundreds of miles away in Manila on a different island, Paco Larrañaga, 19, is at a party, surrounded by dozens of reliable witnesses. Paco is accused of the rapes and murders of the two sisters. Reflecting schisms of race, class, and political power at the core of the Philippines' tumultuous democracy, clashing families and institutions face off to convict or free Paco. Directed by Michael Collins.

SundanceNow Doc Club is the only member-based, advertising-free streaming video service dedicated to documentaries and independent film. Doc Club takes the experience of the independent video store digital, providing a destination for consumers who are overwhelmed by content and are looking for a more tailored approach to streaming video. Overseen by resident curator Thom Powers (DOC NYC, Toronto International Film Festival), Doc Club films are handpicked by experts (including programmers from the Sundance Institute) and guest curators like Ira Glass, Susan Sarandon, Dan Savage and Anthony Bourdain.

Doc Club satisfies all types of documentary enthusiasts, providing access to classics and hard-to-find documentaries as well as many of the most exciting documentaries of the last decade. Membership benefits include special screenings, free movie tickets, events with filmmakers and behind-the-scenes looks at film festivals. Recent releases include the exclusive digital premiere of the Sundance hit A GAY GIRL IN DAMASCUS: THE AMINA PROFILE, the seminal true crime docuseries THE STAIRCASE and a collection of favorites guest curated by the minds behind Documentary Now! - Fred Armisen, Seth Meyers and Bill Hader.

Memberships for SundanceNow Doc Club begin at the low monthly price of $4.99 for an annual subscription or $6.99 per month for a month-to-month subscription, and a new gift subscription option is now available. Viewers can watch via web, iPhone, iPad, Android, Roku, Chromecast and Apple TV (via Airplay). SundanceNow Doc Club is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016


This time several decades ago, you might have found me sitting crosslegged in front of the family TV watching one of my favorite shows, "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.", which ran for four seasons back in 1964-1968. 

Back then I never could've imagined that someday I'd be able to own entire seasons of the show on magical discs that I could watch whenever I felt like it, as with the new 10-DVD set THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

These second-season episodes are much more fun and, surprisingly, a bit less tacky-looking than I remember from when they originally aired.  There's a breeziness to the action and character interplay that skirts the edges of self-parody while occasionally stepping right in it. (Which, as I recall, became a much bigger problem in season three.)

Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, as top U.N.C.L.E. agent Napoleon Solo and his Russian partner Illya Kuryakin, even seem to be having more fun here than in the previous season.  Everything's lighter and there's a sense of fun about the whole thing that makes even the most outlandish and/or least substantial plots not only bearable but rather amusing in their own way.

Speaking of plots, they're fairly paper-thin and not all that important anyway except as vehicles for the raucous action scenes and tongue-in-cheek character interplay complete with willfully clunky dialogue--which is one big reason I liked the show so much as a kid. 

U.N.C.L.E. (which stands for "United Network Command for Law Enforcement", a multi-national organization that polices the world) must remain forever vigilant against the evil forces of their main adversary, THRUSH (I can't remember what that stands for, but it's bad), a global gang of bad guys who use advanced technology, biological weaponry, etc. to terrorize the world.

In the episode "The Birds and the Bees Affair", they actually wipe out an entire European branch of U.N.C.L.E. using tiny poisonous bees introduced into their headquarters through the ventilation system.  (John McGiver guests as the sinister THRUSH boss "Mr. Mozart.") In "The Ultimate Computer", Charlie Ruggles and Roger C. Carmel have developed a 1960s version of a super-computer that will threaten to rule the world with its superior brain power. 

Other nefarious THRUSH schemes include a machine that reads people's thoughts ("The Foxes and Hounds Affair"), a highly corrosive new substance which resembles soap suds and dissolves human flesh ("The Arabian Affair"), and a boys' academy where Jeanne Cooper as "Mother Fear" trains the impressionable lads to be junior assassins ("The Children's Day Affair").  

One of the more noteworthy guest appearances is by Martin Landau as Zark, a cape-wearing Transylvanian villain with a Bela Lugosi accent, in "The Bat Cave Affair."  Not only does Landau get to chew the scenery as only he can while his character plans to attack the entire continent of Europe with bloodthirsty vampire bats, but he gives us a preview of his Oscar-winning performance as Lugosi in Tim Burton's 1994 film ED WOOD.

As in the first season, these episodes whisk us off to various exotic hot spots all over the world, each of which is represented by the same familiar backlot locations, fake city streets, and grainy stock footage with intertitles to let us know where we are.  These fake locales are invariably populated by caricatures with really bad accents, which becomes part of the show's charm after awhile.

Technically, "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." is no better or worse than the usual low-budget TV comedy-drama from the mid-60s. Direction, camerawork, and editing range from workmanlike to downright slapdash at times, with frenetic fight sequences that are hardly more realistic  or well-choreographed than those in Adam West's "Batman."  Missing here is the talent of director Richard Donner from season one.    

Most of the semblance of seriousness that ran through the first season has begun to fade away in favor of a decidedly tongue-in-cheek atmosphere.  This is reflected in Vaughn's performance, which is casual to say the least.  McCallum's Kuryakin maintains a bit more Russian reserve although he's often the butt of comedic misfortune.

I like the way the two avoid the usual sentimentality by keeping their interplay light and sometimes caustic.  Often a story will end with one of them cock-blocking the other as he tries to make time with their current leading lady.  Even the dignified Mr. Waverly gets in on the act in some cases.  But Leo G. Carroll (NORTH BY NORTHWEST) is such a distinguished actor that he manages to lend needed class and believability even when things border on the farcical.

A large part of the show's charm is the fact that our heroes tend to recruit a different civilian woman in each episode to help them in some way against THRUSH.  (This happened often in season one but has become a standard feature in season two.)  Some of the more likable actresses to fill this role include "Laugh-In" star Judy Carne, Joyce Jameson, Julie Sommers, Dorothy Provine, Juliet Mills, Jocelyn Lane, France Nuyen, Sharon Farrell, Joan Freeman, and, notably, McCallum's wife at the time, Jill Ireland in her second guest appearance.

In addition, the show is a cornucopia of notable guest stars for viewers who enjoy spotting familiar faces.  Among those in season two are Rip Torn, James Hong, Madge Blake, Vincent Price, Patricia Medina, Ray Danton, Joy Harmon, Harvey Lembeck, Eric Braeden, George Macready, Theo Marcuse, Vic Tayback, "Three Stooges" regular Gene Roth, Michael Ansara, Phyllis Newman, Mala Powers, Lawrence Montaigne, George Sanders, Claude Akins, Jessie Royce Landis, Sig Ruman, Warren Stevens, Victor Buono, Maurice Evans, Gil Perkins, Angela Lansbury, John Hoyt, Jay North, Arnold Moss, Diane McBain, Lee Bergere, Florence Marly, Vera Miles, James "Scotty" Doohan, Michael Pate, Norman Fell, Kevin McCarthy, Nancy Kovack, Ricardo Montalban, Jack Weston, Bruce Gordon, Whit Bissell, Eve Arden, Paul Winfield, and Victoria Vetri (aka Angela Dorian). 

Bad sci-fi fans should be especially pleased to spot King Moody of TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE in the episode "The Minus-X Affair."  Of special interest as well is "The Moonglow Affair", which serves as a pilot for the later spin-off series "The Girl From U.N.C.L.E." with Mary Ann Mobley and Norman Fell in the roles of agents April Dancer and Mark Slate (played in the series by Stephanie Powers and Noel Harrison).

The 10-disc DVD set from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment is in full screen with Dolby English mono sound.  Subtitles are in English.  Aside from a paper episode guide insert, there are no extras.

One of the nicer surprises I got from watching THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON is that not only is season two better than I remembered from its original airing, but a lot more fun as well.  If you're into 60s television that doesn't take itself too seriously, the adventures of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin are a real hoot.

Read our review of Season One

Buy it at the
Street date: Feb. 2, 2016
Stills are not taken from DVD

Episode Titles:

The Alexander the Greater Affair, Part I
The Alexander the Greater Affair, Part II
The Ultimate Computer Affair
The Foxes and Hounds Affair
The Discotheque Affair
The Re-Collector's Affair
The Arabian Affair
The Tigers are Coming Affair
The Deadly Toys Affair
The Cherry Blossom Affair
The Virtue Affair
The Children's Day Affair
The Adriatic Express Affair
The Yukon Affair
The Very Important Zombie Affair
The Dippy Blonde Affair
The Deadly Goddess Affair
The Birds and the Bees Affair
The Waverly Ring Affair
The Bridge of Lions Affair , Part I
The Bridge of Lions Affair , Part II
The Foreign Legion Affair
The Moonglow Affair
The Nowhere Affair
The King of Diamonds Affair
The Project Deephole Affair
The Round Table Affair
The Bat Cave Affair
The Minus-X Affair
The Indian Affairs Affair


Michael Peña to Star in Action-Thriller "The Worker", Dan Bradley Directs



Jeremy Renner’s Production Company, The Combine and
Content Media will Produce the Film

Los Angeles, CA – February 2nd 2016 – Michael Peña (“The Martian,” “Ant-Man,” “Fury”) has signed on as the starring lead in the action-thriller “The Worker” for Jeremy Renner and Don Handfield’s production outfit, The Combine, and Content Media.  Dan Bradley (“Red Dawn”) is directing the film from a screenplay by Kyle Rankin.

Producers are The Combine’s Academy Award® nominee Jeremy Renner (“The Hurt Locker,”
“The Avengers,” “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” and “Rogue Nation”) and Don Handfield
(“The Founder”, “Knightfall”, “Kill The Messenger”) and Content Media’s Tom Butterfield. Peña will executive produce through his Strata Films banner, with Philip G. Flores.

Content Media will handle international sales for “The Worker” and introduce the project to distributors for the first time at the European Film Market (EFM) in Berlin next month. CAA will represent the film’s N. American distribution rights.

“The Worker” is “Taken” meets “Bourne” – equipped with spectacular gun fights, car chases and lethal hand-to-hand combat, from Director Dan Bradley, who made a name for himself as Second Unit Director and Stunt Coordinator on a number of high-octane blockbuster hits including the “Bourne” series, “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” “Quantum of Solace,” “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “Green Zone,” “Crank,” “The Expendables 3,” “Spider-Man 2 and 3” and “Three Kings,” to name a few.

In “The Worker,” Peña plays Manny, an ex-member of Special Forces, Mexico’s elite fighting unit.  When the cartel puts a hit out on his family, his only choice is to flee to Los Angeles.

But crossing a border doesn’t guarantee safety. Manny’s beautiful wife Maria and son are kidnapped. He has to rely on his skills, his raw nerve, and resourcefulness in order to take down a team of drug dealers whose sole aim is to destroy him and everything he holds dear.

Currently in pre-production, principal photography on “The Worker” is slated to begin later this year.

In a joint statement, Handfield and Renner said, “We are huge fans of Dan Bradley, not just in his proven track record of creating groundbreaking and visceral action, but in his ability as a director to deliver an emotional experience. With incredible actors like Michael Peña, we know he will be able to create a film both spectacular and resonant. We are excited to collaborate with the team at Content Media in bringing Dan’s vision to the screen.”

Content’s President of Film Jamie Carmichael and Butterfield said: “We are thrilled to be producing the film with such great talent on both sides of the camera. The Combine and Dan have a wealth of experience in this genre along with Michael’s ability to make it an emotional story. We know the audience will want to follow along for a great ride.”

In addition to “The Worker,” Content’s impressive international sales slate includes the Manolo Blahnik documentary “Manolo”; the Maria Callas biopic “Callas,” starring Noomi Rapace with Niki Caro directing; Lorenzo di Bonaventura’s produced sci-fi “Higher Power”; Joel David Moore’s dramedy “Youth in Oregon” starring Christina Applegate, Josh Lucas, Billy Crudup, Frank Langella and Nicola Peltz; Dennis Hauck’s neo-noir detective thriller “Too Late,” starring Academy Award®-nominee John Hawkes; the supernatural horror “Don’t Knock Twice,” from ‘The Machine’ team starring Katee Sackhoff, Lucy Boynton and Nick Moran; the uplifting emotional  drama “Life at these Speeds” starring Billy Crudup, Graham Rogers and Tim Roth; the star-studded romantic drama “The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” starring Jason Sudeikis, Maisie Williams, Jessica Biel, Orlando Jones, with Paul Reiser and Mary Steenburgen; Amy Berg’s “Janis: Little Girl Blue” selected at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals; the smash hit HBO documentary “Going Clear: Scientology and The Prison of Belief” from Academy Award® winning director Alex Gibney, which was the network's most watched documentary premiere in a decade; and Oscar Wilde's “The Canterville Ghost” voiced by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.

About Content Media Corporation
Content Media Corporation Ltd is a London and LA-based private company that owns and distributes a significant library of film, television, and digital assets. The Company’s library of rights includes over 5,000 hours of television programming, 200 hours of digital programming and 275 feature films.

Content Media recently closed a multi-faceted deal with Bruno Wu’s Beijing-based Seven Stars Entertainment and Media, Ltd., in which Content acquired the Alive Group of companies allowing Content to distribute its extensive library of film and television rights through the Alive Group to the Chinese market, as well as a direct equity investment by Seven Stars into Content

The film sales division launched in 2002 and represents high profile, commercial feature films with great artistic and theatrical ambition. In addition to handling worldwide sales, marketing, and publicity, the company assists film producers in securing financing. 

About The Combine
The Combine was founded in 2013 by two-time Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner and filmmaker Don Handfield to create, develop and produce high quality, character-driven content with award-winning potential from every genre.

Since its creation, The Combine has helped produce the true-life dramatic thriller KILL THE MESSENGER, starring Jeremy Renner and directed by Michael Cuesta from a screenplay by Peter Landesman, and THE THROWAWAYS, a feature length action comedy that premiered on Crackle, starring Sam Worthington, Kevin Dillon and James Caan, and recently completed principal photography on THE FOUNDER, starring Michael Keaton, directed by John Lee Hancock. The Combine also recently sold the television series PLAYING WITH FIRE to HBO and had their television show KNIGHTFALL ordered to series by The History Channel.


Sunday, January 31, 2016


With the epic outdoor action-drama THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948), based on a novel by enigmatic writer B. Traven, Humphrey Bogart once again joined with director John Huston and his father Walter (after THE MALTESE FALCON) for a grueling tale of the devastating effects of greed on average men.  And during the film's arduous shoot in the wilds of Mexico, any hint of Hollywood glamour would soon become a distant memory. 

As Fred C. Dobbs, Bogart loses himself in one of his grittiest and least sympathetic roles.  Dobbs is an American stuck in a small Mexican town with no job or money, wandering the streets and begging for pesos.  (The younger Huston has a funny cameo as a well-to-do man Dobbs keeps hitting up for change.)  Dobbs will fling his glass of water in the face of a small boy (Robert Blake) pestering him to buy a lottery ticket, yet we sense a modicum of decency somewhere beneath his gruff exterior.

This early sequence of him trudging his way through life, getting bad haircuts, chasing after prostitutes, etc. lets us sit back and watch Bogart at work creating one of his finest characters.  Dobbs hooks up with a fellow American named Curtin (Tim Holt) for a job in which they're cheated out of their pay by a crooked foreman (Barton MacLane of THE MALTESE FALCON) whom they beat senseless after he attacks them in a bar.  (This well-choreographed fight scene is brutally effective.)  Then, after meeting grizzled old prospector Howard (Walter Huston) in a flophouse, they take his advice and set out with him to find gold in the mountains of the Mexican desert. 

Walter Huston enjoyed recounting the story of how he told his son John that if he ever became a filmmaker to "write me a good part."   The old gold-hunter Howard is that part, a role the elder Huston,  sans dentures, inhabits so fully that he almost manages to steal the picture right out from under Bogart.  (He would go on to win an Oscar for it.)  Howard is a goodnatured, level-headed old man, and we believe him when he warns of the evil effects gold can have on weak-willed men.
Dobbs blusters against such talk, thinking himself above any negative influences.  Yet without missing a beat, he will fulfill each of Howard's admonitions one by one as the lure of gold transforms him into a paranoid,  resentful,  and ultimately dangerous man.  By the time he's gone over the deep end, he's a frightening character, convinced in his mindless desperation that everyone's out to get him and that he's justified in whatever heinous act he may commit to protect himself and his newfound fortune.

When Dobbs and Curtin finally find themselves locked in a life-or-death battle of wills in the middle of the desert, the film almost takes on the eerie inevitability of a horror movie.  The only thing that undercuts it, along with much of the rest of the film, is one of Max Steiner's worst musical themes--a loping, folksy motif that I find jarringly out of place.

In addition to being a fascinating character study,  TREASURE is a terrific action-adventure.  Alfonso Bedoya is unforgettable as the ruthless Mexican bandit Gold Hat,  whose gang attacks our heroes' train during their trip into the mountains and then later stumbles upon their mining camp, leading to a blazing gunfight.  Gold Hat may be a monster, but Bedoya manages to make him funny, especially with his immortal response to Dobbs' question "If you're federales, where are your badges?"

"Badges? We ain’t got no badges...we don’t need no badges...I don’t have to show you any stinking badges!"

Tim Holt is solid in the less flashy role  of sturdy, dependable Curtin, who shares Howard's dismay at Dobbs' growing instability.  Walter Huston is a delight in a truly wonderful performance--he even gets to break the fourth wall and give us a sly look during one sequence in which he's being given the royal treatment by a tribe of Indians after doing them a good turn.  We don't even hold it against Howard when he votes along with the others to execute another man, Cody (Bruce Bennett), who tries to horn in on their find. 

But it's Bogart, as a man susceptible to bouts of pure, wild-eyed insanity, who makes the film as truly memorable as it is.  No matter how low he sinks and what horrible things he does, we always remember the relatively decent guy he was before gold changed him, and feel some remorse for what he's become.  And just like Dobbs, I'd like to think gold wouldn't make me act that way--but who knows?

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