Category: History

“London After Midnight” starring Lon Chaney – A Rare Still!

I continue to hold out hope that someday a print of London After Midnight will be found.  London After Midnight starred Lon Chaney, was directed and co-produced by Tod Browning.  There is no known copy of the film (the last known print was destroyed in a fire in the 1960s) and is considered to be the most “sought-after” lost film. From WikipediA…

London After Midnight (also marketed as The Hypnotist) is a lost 1927 American silent mystery film with horror overtones directed and co-produced by Tod Browning and starring Lon Chaney, with Marceline Day, Conrad Nagel, Henry B. Walthall and Polly Moran. The film was distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and was based on the scenario “The Hypnotist”, also written by Browning.

I truly hope that a copy of the film is found for fans, like me, to see.

“Batman & Bill” (2017) / Z-View

Batman & Bill (2017)

Director: Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce

Stars: Marc Tyler Nobleman, Bill Finger, Fred Finger, Portia Finger, Thomas Andrae, Jerry Bails, Otto Binder,
Athena Finger, Judy Flam, Stacey C. Friends, Carmine Infantino, Stan Lee, Todd McFarlane, Daniela Nobleman  
and Bob Kane.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

For decades one of the biggest “secrets” that insiders knew was that Bob Kane wasn’t the sole creator of Batman. Despite this knowledge, every appearance of The Dark Knight contained the credit “Created by Bob Kane”.  The truth of the matter is Bill Finger was the creator of Batman’s costume, Robin, Catwoman, The Joker, The Riddler, Commissioner Gordan, the Batcave, Gotham City and more.  Yet Bill Finger received no credit or compensation while Bob Kane got rich and famous.

Batman & Bill is the story of one man’s quest to right this wrong.  Despite overwhelming odds justice finally prevailed.  This is that story.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Although the general public didn’t know about Bill Finger, it wasn’t a secret among comic book professionals and many fans. Bob Kane for years claimed he was the sole creator of Batman.  The publishers of Batman and all its spinoffs knew differently.  It wasn’t until after Bill Finger’s death that Kane started to give Finger some credit.  Still, Kane was the only one listed on any Batman comic, movie or merchandise.

When Marc Tyler Nobleman learned of this injustice, he made it his life’s mission to right that wrong.  He had nothing to gain, but like a true superhero wanted justice to be served.  And it finally was.

Batman & Bill (2017) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal”: Season 2 | Official Trailer

On March 2, 2023, Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of the murder of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul. The world watched with bated breath as a verdict was announced. The people of the Lowcountry had been waiting the better part of two years to understand what happened the night of June 7, 2021.

Season 2 will feature first-hand accounts from those who were there the days leading up to and following the murders, giving more insight than ever into that deadly night, including Blanca Turrubiate-Simpson (Former Murdaugh Family Housekeeper) and Mushelle “Shelly” Smith (Caregiver for Libby Murdaugh) – who became some of the most powerful witnesses at the trial – Curtis Edward Smith (aka Cousin Eddie), and Gwen Generette, one of the trial’s jurors. Morgan Doughty, Paul’s ex-girlfriend, Anthony Cook, Paul’s friend, and Valerie Bauerlein, Wall Street Journal reporter, also return.

TOO MANY BULLETS (Nathan Heller) by Max Allan Collins!

Max Allan Collins’ Nate Heller series is one of my favorites. Collins takes famous murders, thoroughly  researches them and then sticks Nate Heller in the middle of things.  It’s cool seeing Heller (who ages in real time through the series) interacting with famous people in cases and often with an ending not quite like what we’ve come to believe.  Collins always includes an afterward with insights and a bibliography.

Collins latest Nate Heller yarn is TOO MANY BULLETS.  Here’s the lowdown…

Acclaimed “True Crime” detective Nathan Heller, whose cases have sold more than 1 million copies, returns to uncover the secrets behind Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 assassination in this brand-new novel from bestselling ROAD TO PERDITION author Max Allan Collins.

In 1968, Nate Heller is there when Robert Kennedy is shot at the Ambassador Hotel. Heller takes it upon himself to investigate the murder when a friend of his and Bobby’s raises doubts about the LAPD’s investigation. Heller strongly suspects the involvement of Jimmy Hoffa (currently imprisoned), but Hoffa seems to be in the clear as the private eye looks into the possible presence of CIA enemies of RFK’s on the murder night, the apparent manipulation of Sirhan Sirhan into a Manchurian Candidate-style assassin, and a probable second shooter.

“Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein” – The Trailer is Here!

Wow!  Original recordings of Ed Gein interviews.  Deal me in.

Psycho: The Lost Tapes of Ed Gein premieres September 17th, 2023- only on MGM+

This MGM+ original docuseries follows the horrifying grave robber and serial killer Ed Gein whose crimes inspired such iconic films as Psycho and The Silence of the Lambs. With new reveals and never-before-heard recordings, viewers will be transported to late-1950s Middle America and submerged in Gein’s perverse mind. The series explores Gein’s upbringing and twisted relationship with his mother, his early grave robbing and murders, and the police’s discovery of his terrifying house of horrors.

“While the City Sleeps” (1956) directed by Fritz Lang, starring Dana Andrews & Rhonda Fleming / Z-View

While the City Sleeps (1956)

Director: Fritz Lang

Screenplay: Casey Robinson based on The Bloody Spur by Charles Einstein

Stars: Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, George Sanders, Howard Duff, Thomas Mitchell, Vincent Price, Sally Forrest, John Drew Barrymore, Ida Lupino, Robert Warwick, Mae Marsh, Larry J. Blake and Celia Lovsky.

Tagline:  Sensational LIPSTICK Murderer

The Plot…

The Lipstick Killer has the city on edge.  He continues to murder women and leave taunting messages.  The killings are coming with greater frequency. The news media is having a field day.

Amos Kyne (Warwick) died leaving his son, Walter (Price) in charge of the Kyne News Media conglomerate (newspaper, television, wire service).  Walter has little business sense. He decides his best bet is to create an Executive Director to run the corporation.  Walter offers the job to his top reporter/television commentator, Edward Mobley (Andrews).  Mobley turns him down flat.

Walter then tells the head of each arm of the conglomerate that whoever breaks the story of the capture of The Lipstick Killer will become the new Executive Director of Kyne News Media.  All three men want the job and are willing to go to great lengths to get it.  Although Mobley doesn’t want the position, he agrees to help his friend get it. Mobley goes on live tv and taunts the killer.  This puts Mobley and his fiancé in the killer’s path.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Vincent Price is perfectly cast as the smarmy son placed in charge of a business that he has no idea how to run.

There’s a lot of romance drama at the expense of serial killer drama.

There was a real serial killer dubbed The Lipstick Killer a decade prior to the release of While the City Sleeps!

While the City Sleeps (1956) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“Berlin Express” (1948) directed by Jacques Tourneur, starring Merle Oberon & Robert Ryan / Z-View

Berlin Express (1948)

Director: Jacques Tourneur

Screenplay: Harold Medford from a story by Curt Siodmak

Stars: Merle Oberon, Robert Ryan, Charles Korvin, Paul Lukas, Robert Coote, Reinhold Schünzel, Otto Waldis, Fritz Kortner and Tom Keene.

Tagline:  BEHIND THE CURTAIN OF SILENCE… into Berlin’s forbidden zone!

The Plot…

World War II is over, Germany has been divided into four zones of occupation under the control of the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union.  The city of Berlin, although located in the Soviet Zone, is also divided among the four governments.

On a train to Frankfurt, a bomb explodes in an assassination attempt on Dr. Bernhardt, a German working for a peaceful solution between Germany and the occupying governments. Although Bernhardt survived, his bodyguard was killed.  When the train arrives at the busy railway station, Bernhardt is kidnapped.  Several of the travelers including a US business man, a French woman, and a Russian soldier put aside their differences in an attempt to find Dr. Bernhardt.

Before it is over the group will face betrayal, mistaken identities, shootouts, fistfights, murders and more.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Berlin Express was the first Hollywood production filmed on location in post-war Berlin,  The bombed out city is a somber and terrifying backdrop.  The opening and closing of the film features narration that gives the move a documentary feel.  This didn’t work for me.

What did work were the scenes in the cabaret, the abandoned warehouse, the fight on the high dilapidated walkway, and the identity of the true murderer.  Oh, and let’s not forget the scene towards the end of the film showing Dr. Bernhardt being strangled — a very cleaver reveal.  It’s also interesting to note that the Russian soldier wasn’t treated as a caricature.

Berlin Express (1948) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York” (2023) / Z-View

Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York (2023)

Director: Anthony Caronna

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

In the 1990s, dismembered bodies began turning up in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.  The victims were gay men.  It took a while before the police in the different jurisdictions realized they had a serial killer on their hands.  The press dubbed the murderer The Last Call Killer.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York is a four part documentary that focuses on the victims, the increased homophobia due to AIDS during this time period, the efforts the gay community took to raise awareness of the murders and the shortcomings of a system where different jurisdictions didn’t smoothly interact.  While we do learn who the killer was, how he was caught and the outcome of his trial, he is never the main focus.

Last Call: When a Serial Killer Stalked Queer New York (2023) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed” (2023) / Z-View

Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed (2023)

Director: Stephen Kijak

Rock Hudson
, Lee Garlington, Armistead Maupin, Piper Laurie, Illeana Douglas and  Linda Evans.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed explores the double life led by Rock Hudson who was Hollywood’s top leading man for years.  Women desired him and men wanted to be like him.  What the world at large didn’t know: Rock Hudson was gay.  The studios worked to keep his secret and Hudson played along (to an extent). Of course the secret could no longer be hidden once Rock Hudson became the first star to die from AIDS.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

I was surprised about how so many people were aware that Rock Hudson was gay, but the secret never got out to the public. Hudson was promiscuous, didn’t shy away from going to gay bars, parties, etc. but the secret held.

I’m old enough to remember when the “Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors are getting married” rumor went viral.  My mother and her best friend didn’t believe that Rock Hudson was gay… although they wouldn’t be surprised about Jim Nabors.

I also remember the tons of stories about Rock Hudson having AIDS. The rumors are true! Plus the controversary of Hudson kissing Linda Evans in a scene despite knowing he had the virus.

Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed (2023) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“The Celluloid Closet” (1996) / Z-View

The Celluloid Closet (1996)

Director: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

Screenplay: Vito Russo, Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, Sharon Wood, Armistead Maupin

Stars: Lily Tomlin, Tony Curtis, Armistead Maupin, Whoopi Goldberg, Harvey Fierstein, Gore Vidal, Farley Granger and Shirley MacLaine.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

The Celluloid Closet explores how the film industry, from the silent era to the mid-1990s dealt with members of the LGBT community on screen and behind the scenes.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

It’s interesting to see how the on screen portrayal of this community has changed (or not) in the last almost 100 years.  I also enjoyed the movie scenes that were so obvious if you knew what to look for, but went over the heads of most folks (including me).

The Celluloid Closet (1996) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“Napoleon” directed by Ridley Scott, starring Joaquin Phoenix – The Trailer is Here!

Deal me in!

Ridley. Joaquin. Napoleon. In theaters November 22

Directed by Ridley Scott from a screenplay by David Scarpa, “Napoleon” stars Joaquin Phoenix as the French emperor and military leader. The film is an original and personal look at Napoleon’s origins and his swift, ruthless climb to emperor, viewed through the prism of his addictive and often volatile relationship with his wife and one true love, Josephine, played by Vanessa Kirby. The film captures Napoleon’s famous battles, relentless ambition and astounding strategic mind as an extraordinary military leader and war visionary. An Apple Studios production in conjunction with Scott Free Productions, “Napoleon” is produced by Scott, Kevin Walsh, Mark Huffam and Phoenix, with Michael Pruss and Aidan Elliott serving as executive producers.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” — Official Trailer

“Killers of the Flower Moon” — The Official Trailer is Here!

Based on a true American Story. Killers of the Flower Moon, in theaters October.

At the turn of the 20th century, oil brought a fortune to the Osage Nation, who became some of the richest people in the world overnight. The wealth of these Native Americans immediately attracted white interlopers, who manipulated, extorted, and stole as much Osage money as they could before resorting to murder. Based on a true story and told through the improbable romance of Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Mollie Kyle (Lily Gladstone), “Killers of the Flower Moon” is an epic western crime saga, where real love crosses paths with unspeakable betrayal. Also starring Robert De Niro, Jesse Plemons, John Lithgow, Brendan Fraser, Tantoo Cardinal, Cara Jade Myers, JaNae Collins, and Jillian Dion, Killers of the Flower Moon is directed by Academy Award winner Martin Scorsese from a screenplay by Eric Roth and Scorsese, based on David Grann’s best-selling book.

Hailing from Apple Studios, Killers of the Flower Moon was produced alongside Imperative Entertainment, Sikelia Productions and Appian Way. Producers are Scorsese, Dan Friedkin, Bradley Thomas and Daniel Lupi, with DiCaprio, Rick Yorn, Adam Somner, Marianne Bower, Lisa Frechette, John Atwood, Shea Kammer and Niels Juul serving as executive producers.

Song: “Stadium Pow Wow (feat. Black Bear)” by The Halluci Nation‎StadiumPowWow

“300” (2006) /Z-View

300 (2006)

Director: Zack Snyder

Screenplay: Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, Michael B. Gordon based on 300 by Frank Miller, Lynn Varley

Stars: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Dominic West, Vincent Regan, Michael Fassbender, Andrew Pleavin, Rodrigo Santoro  and Eli Snyder.

Tagline:  Spartans, tonight, we dine in hell!

The Plot…

Based on Frank Miller’s classic graphic novel, 300 tells the story of King Leonidas (Butler) who led an army of 300 Spartans against a Persian force of over 100,000.  Persian King Xerxes (Santoro) planned to rule the world. His army was decimating every country in his path.  King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans would meet the Persians in the mountain pass of Thermopylae known as “the Gates of Hell”.  There they would make their stand.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

There has never been a movie adaptation that follows the source material as well as 300.  Zack Snyder’s respect for Frank Miller’s graphic novel is evident in every scene.  That’s not to say that Snyder didn’t have an impact on what we see.  Using Miller’s panels as storyboards, Snyder has created a stylized film that is  a thing of beauty.

300 (2006) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Rock Hudson was one of the biggest stars of his time.  Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed looks well done.  Since it’s on MAX, it’s a no-brainer to give it a shot.

A Hollywood icon. A legendary impact.

A new @HBO original documentary from Stephen Kijak examines the life and legacy of one of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars. #RockHudson: All That Heaven Allowed premieres June 28 on @streamonmax.

“The League” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

The League looks awesome.  Deal me in.

Opening exclusively in AMC Theatres the week of July 7
Available on digital July 14

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Sam Pollard (MLK/FBI), executive produced by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (Oscar-winning SUMMER OF SOUL), Tariq Trotter (DESCENDANT), and produced by RadicalMedia, THE LEAGUE celebrates the dynamic journey of Negro League baseball’s triumphs and challenges through the first half of the twentieth century. The story is told through previously unearthed archival footage and never-before-seen interviews with legendary players like Satchel Paige and Buck O’Neil – whose early careers paved the way for the Jackie Robinson era – as well as celebrated Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Hank Aaron who started out in the Negro Leagues. From entrepreneurial titans Cumberland Posey and Gus Greenlee, whose intense rivalry fueled the rise of two of the best baseball teams ever to play the game, to Effa Manley, the activist owner of the Newark Eagles and the only woman ever admitted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, THE LEAGUE explores Black baseball as an economic and social pillar of Black communities and a stage for some of the greatest athletes to ever play the game, while also examining the unintended consequences of integration.

Directed by Sam Pollard
Executive Produced byAhmir “Questlove” Thompson, Tariq Trotter
Produced by RadicalMedia