Lone Wolf Sullivan is a writer, songwriter, and studio musician.

Monday, September 01, 2008

BARBARELLA (1968) * * *

Jane Fonda stars as the 41st century sexy astronaut who travels in a pink space craft with an interior lined with fake fur. Barbarella is sent on a mission to disarm a weapon, because "the universe has been pacified for centuries". The President of Earth tells her, "Your mission, Barbarella--find Durand Durand."

On Lythion, planet 16 in the system Tau Ceti, Barbarella crash lands in the ice and forests of Weer, tunnels into the Labyrinth of the City of Night, then makes her way to SoGo. The city is evil, ruled by the sexy Great Tyrant (Anita Pallenberg).

Great Tyrant: "So, my pretty pretty. We meet again."
Barbarella: "You! The little one-eyed wench!"
Great Tyrant: "You have a good memory, pretty pretty. Yes, sometimes I like to go out among my people, be like them, ordinary, 'evil' as you call it. So, I'm your little one-eyed wench. I'm also the Great Tyrant."
Barbarella: "That's nice."
Great Tyrant: "It amuses me immensely. Now I believe you are interested in the whereabouts and welfare of a certain party, yes?"
Barbarella: "As a matter of fact I am. I'm here under the orders of the President of Earth, I'm looking for Durand Durand."
Great Tyrant: "I'm not talking of him. I'm speaking of the angel!"
Barbarella: "Pygar?"
Great Tyrant: "Yes, Pygar. He has escaped the labyrinth. Crime. He has destroyed twelve of my black guards. Crime. And he dares to deprive me of a pleasure unique in SoGo, an Earthling. Crime. Crime. You want your fine-feathered friend? Look, there he is."
Barbarella: "De-crucify the angel!"
Great Tyrant: "What?"
Barbarella: "De-crucify him or I'll melt your face!"
Barbarella: "I suppose you realize you saved my life."
Dildano: "A life without cause is a life without effect. Are you typical of Earth women?"
Barbarella: "I'm about average."
Dildano: "The password will be: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch."

Durand Durand: "I'll do things to you that are beyond all known philosophies!"

In bizarre SoGo, Barbarella has many strange adventures and lots of non-explicit sex. Barbarella is accustomed to sex with pills, and tells a suitor, "Make love? But no one's done that for centuries." Many sci-fi intellectuals object to Fonda being a "sex object". Not me. It's one of my favorite films, and I've seen it dozens of times. What I like is that it's "so 60's it hurts" and it has a strong element of fantasy. Serious Science Fiction fans believe sci-fi is simply a view of the future. No. Sci-fi is fiction with a scientific basis. It does not have to deal with the future and fantasy is important because it is foolish to imagine that our present model of science will not change.

BARBARELLA is derived from a racy French comic strip. The movie is very colourful, inventive, and with tongue-in-cheek humour. The great sound track is unfortunately mono. Pop band Duran Duran supposedly took their name from one of the characters. No. His name is actually Durand Durand. And although Barbarella spurns the advances of the Great Tyrant in the movie, a lesbian love scene was filmed but not used. Still, we do hear delicious dialogue from Pallenberg such as: "You're very pretty pretty. Would you like to come and play with me? For someone like you I charge nothing."

When BARBARELLA was released it was a critical and box office failure. However, it has since become a major cult movie, especially on home video. The film is very influential in the pop music world. Duran Duran, Fuzzbox, Kylie Minogue, Jamiroquai, Scott Weiland, Matmos, Prince, and others have paid tribute to BARBARELLA.

Soundtrack songs were written by Bob Crewe and Charles Fox. They are: "Barbarella", "Drag Me Down", "Love Theme from Barbarella", "I Love All the Love in You", "The Black Queen's Beads", and "An Angel is Love". Others in the cast include: John Phillip Law (Pygar), Milo O'Shea (Durand Durand), Marcel Marceau (Professor Ping), Claude Dauphin (President of Earth), Serge Marquand (Captain Sun), Veronique Vendell (Captain Moon), Catherine Chevallier (Stomoxys), David Hemmings (Dildano), Ugo Tognazzi (Mark Hand), Lina Maryan (Gara Granda), Antonio Sabato (Jean Paul), and many others. Anita Pallenberg's lines were dubbed in by Joan Greenwood. Marcel Marceau's lines are dubbed in. Jane Fonda performs her own lines in both the English and French versions.

The Barbarella comic was created by Jean-Claude Forest. Writing credits are Claude Brule, Terry Southern, Roger Vadim, Vittorio Bonicelli, Clement Biddle Wood, Brian Degas, Tudor Gates, and Jean-Claude Forest. Music was composed by Michel Magne and James Campbell. Roger Vadim, who was married to Jane Fonda at the time, directed.

Like other movies I watch frequently, BARBARELLA is "ambient TV" for me now. That is, I talk on the phone, write a letter, etc. while the sound track provides ambience. I hear everything but don't see the entire film.

GALAXINA (1980) * * 1/2

In the year 3008, Captain Cornelius Butt (Avery Schreiber) runs the police space cruiser Infinity. He and his crew are given orders to travel to distant Altair 1 to recover a mysterious crystal, the Blue Star, that has unlimited power.

Before the trip, they visit an outer space brothel filled with bizarre and mostly repulsive aliens. The crew sing, "Porno, porno, porno patrol. Here comes the porno patrol" Captain Butt consumes a raw egg that he regurgitates and a rubber creature is born that later calls him "mommy".

Captain Butt: "If a jackass had both your brains, he'd be a very dumb jackass!"
The crew go into cryochambers and suspended animation for the 30 year journey to Altair 1. Galaxina (Dorothy Stratten), a beautiful robot, is left in charge of the ship and she upgrades herself and becomes more human. When the crew thaw out, handsome pilot Sgt. Thor (Stephen Macht) falls in love with her. Galaxina's lover calls her "Bunnyfluff".

TV Commercial: "Do you have a drinking problem? Then come on down to Happy Hour Spirits! We've got all the booze you need!"

Galaxina visits a Western town on Altair 1 to find Frank Future and the Blue Star. The old "Batmobile" from the Batman TV series is parked on the street. She visits a "Human Restaurant" (humans are on the menu) run by Mr. Spot (David A. Cox), a funny Spock impersonator. Galaxina asks him the whereabouts of Frank Future. Mr. Spot can't remember if he was baked or poached, but says, "He was delicious."

Mr. Spot gives Galaxina permission to go upstairs, where she has an unpleasant encounter with Ordric (Ronald Knight), a Darth Vader clone. Next she is captured by the descendants of a motorcyle gang who worship Harley David Son. Eventually she escapes and returns to the Infinity. The movie ends somewhat abruptly, although Captain Butt's voice-over commentary during the end credits creates a satisfying conclusion.

Also in the cast are: J. D. Hinton (Pvt. Robert "Buzz" McHenry), Lionel Mark Smith (Maurice), Tad Horino (Sam Wo), Herb Kaplowitz (Rock Eater), Aesop Aquarian (Chopper), Angelo Rossito (egg creature), Nancy McCauley (Elexia), Fred D. Scott (Commander Garrity), Peter Schrum (Fat Daddy), Susan Kiger (Blue Girl), Marily Joi (Winged Girl), Rhonda Shear (Robot/mime), Bartine Burkett (Whistler's Mother), Jacqueline Jacobs (Tasty Dish), Michael D. Castle (Horn Man), Herb Kaplowitz, Aesop Qquarian, Angelo Rossitto, Nancy McCauley, Fred Scott, David Cox, Peter Schrum, Susan Kiger, Milyn Joi, Rhonda Shear, Hugh Warden, Frank Ferro, and many others. Arlon Ober was music supervisor. William Sachs wrote the script and directed.

GALAXINA is a Sci-Fi space spoof with obvious references to STAR TREK, STAR WARS and ALIEN. Many of the sound effects are stolen from BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1979) and the STAR TREK (1966) TV series. It's fairly low-budget, but looks reasonably good.

Film critics do not like it at all. However, looking in 7 movie review books and 23 internet entries, almost none of the critics offer a proper synopsis of the plot. Therefore, I suspect few of them actually watched the movie. For your interest, these critics write GALAXINA is "cheap", features "non-acting" and has a "boring scenario". The few who include a synopsis, gleefully go completely overboard in their criticisms. They "protest too much, methinks", and are unfair scumbags with zero credibility.

I've seen it about 20 times, and though it's no match for BARBARELLA (1968), I like it very much. It's quite amusing, and the only thing I don't like is the mean-spirited personality of Captain Cornelius Butt. Avery Schreiber can be very funny, but the script written by director William Sachs portrays him as stupid with funny lines that often don't work very well.

This was the last film of Dorothy Stratten, the gorgeous 20-year-old Playboy Playmate of the Year. Shortly after GALAXINA was released, she was brutally murdered by her estranged husband. Dorothy Stratten's story is told in Bob Fosse's last film STAR 80 (1983), and also in the TV movie DEATH OF A CENTERFOLD: THE DOROTHY STRATTEN STORY (1981). I have the documentary DOROTHY STRATTEN: THE UNTOLD STORY (1985) by Playboy/Warner. It's not listed in any movie review books, but it's quite good.

Dorothy Stratten's other films are: AUTUMN BORN (1979), AMERICATHON (1979), SKATETOWN, USA (1979), FANTASY ISLAND (1979), BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY (1979), and THEY ALL LAUGHED (1981). Here are some of her personal quotes:

"If someone's going to talk about me, I'd want it to be positively. The way many write, you'd think only bad things were interesting. If we don't think positive, what's the use? It's a lot more fun, you know."

"I can honestly, and proudly, say that I never was on the casting couch. Oh, of course there have been advances from certain men in the movie industry, but nothing overwhelming. I never had any qualms about posing nude. The human body was always an attractive figure to me, that is, if it was in healthy shape, and young. I think I had a more European outlook about the body and sex. The body is in no way dirty, and sex is something beautiful to give to and share with a lover. It has nothing to do with promiscuity, because I only believe in being in love with one man at a time."

"I never claimed to have any extraordinary talent, just maybe extraordinary curiosity. I can learn, I am learning, and I hope to become a proficient, eventually a good, actress. Several have made the transition from a sex symbol to being taken seriously - that's something I really yearn for."

FREDDY GOT FINGERED (2001) * * 1/2

Gordon Brody (Tom Green) is an aspiring cartoonist living at home with father Jim (Rip Torn), mother Julie (Julie Hagerty) and younger brother Freddy (Eddy Kaye Thomas) in Portland, Orgegon. He leaves for Hollywood to find success as an animator. Along the way he passes a stud farm and stops to play with a horse's penis, and is quite excited to be a "farmer" for the first time.

In Hollywood, studio mogul Dave Davidson (Anothony Michael Hall) tells him his cartoons need more work and rethinking. Gord moves back home, where he is treated badly by his father. The family is interrogated by a psychiatrist (Lorena Gale) and Gord fabricates a story about his father sexually molesting his brother in the basement. This is the source of the film's title. Gord neglects to mention that Freddy is 25, so father is taken away and Gord now has the house to himself.

Gord falls in love with beautiful nymphomaniac Betty (Marisa Coughlan), who is a nurse and amateur rocket scientist confined to a wheelchair. She loves giving oral sex to Gord and having her paralyzed legs beaten with a cane. As for Gord, he goes scuba diving in a toilet, plays an organ with sausages, swings a newborn baby around by its umbilical cord, licks a wound with bone protruding through the skin, and wears the carcass of a dead deer.

Julie: "Gordie, sit down. We're having roast beef."
Gord: "Why do you guys always have roast beef?"
Jim: "Boo-hoo. Little Lord Fauntleroy's tummy hurts because there's too much roast beef in it."
Gord: "It's just boring. I'm eating a chicken sandwich."
Jim: "No, you're not!"
Gord: "This is crazy. I'm a 28-year-old man, I should be able to eat a chicken sandwich if I want."
Jim: "He's 28 years old and he can eat a chicken sandwich. Very Impressive. Mike Fitzgibbon's son is a nuclear physicist, and my son can eat a chicken."
(grabs chicken sandwich and throws it to the dogs)
Julie: "Jim, no!"
Jim: "You can either eat that goddamn roast beef, or you can go to bed."

Soon Gord creates a brilliant animated series "Zebras in America" based on his family that becomes a success. He is paid $1,000,000. With the money he rents a helicopter to apologize to Betty and gives her $150,000 worth of jewels. She says, "But Gord, I don't care about jewels, I just want to suck your c**k." Next he spends $750,000 to move his father's bedroom to Pakistan. They have some adventures, which include Gord playing with the penis of an elephant. Father and son return to America.

When the film was released, there was a magazine headline "Has Tom Green Gone Too Far?" FREDDY GOT FINGERED was unanimously panned by all critics. Some even gave it an unprecedented "negative one star out of five stars". Here are typical comments: "The worst piece of cinematic crap I have experienced"; "doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel, doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels"; and "quite simply the worst movie ever released by a major studio in Hollywood history". However, A. O. Scott of the New York Times compared it to conceptual performance art.

This movie won the Worst Film award in five categories at the 2001 Golden Raspberry Awards. The film won (drum roll, please): Worst Picture, Worst Screenplay, Worst Actor, Worst Director, and Worst Couple. Tom Green showed up in a tux at the ceremony to accept the awards, the first winner to ever do so. He brought along his own red carpet.

Others in the cast include: Harland Williams (Darren), Jackson Davies (Mr. Malloy), Connor Widdows (Andy Malloy), R. Nelson Brown (Larry), Shaquille O'Neal (Shaquille), Charles Buettner (Rupert), Joe Flaherty (William), Stephen E. Miller (Ernie), Cliff Solomon (Big Bear), Stephen Tobolowsky (Uncle Neil), and many others. The script was written by Tom Green and Derek Harvie. Original music is by Mike Simpson. Tom Green directed.

FREDDY GOT FINGERED is a very brave and original exercise in extremely bad taste. It has pushed the boundaries of what a mainstream movie can get away with. There is much profanity (including well over 50 uses of "f***"), horse and elephant erections, Rip Torn's bare buttocks, lots of blood and guts, violence, anti-social/criminal behavior, and creative shock and gross out jokes. Where else can you find such outrageous entertainment?

TOM GREEN MTO SHOW uncensored (2002) * *

Last week I bought "MTV's Tom Green Show uncensored" to add to my Green collection. The packaging is misleading because it is about 70% "making of" and the rest is terrific Tom Green lunacy. Furthermore, all foul language is "beeped" out and some things are hidden with digital distortion. That is not my idea of "uncensored".

The video starts off well. My favorite part is Tom Green interviewing people on the street. He is serious and straight-faced with a pro camera crew. Green holds the microphone and gradually moves it closer to people's faces, then starts rubbing it on their skin like it's an electric razor.

Next he puts a lump of dog turd on the mic and holds it under people's noses. They just keep on talking!

Finally he uses dildoes and vibrators as mics. The people keep on talking, even when he rubs the vibrator on their faces. With one old geezer, flattered to be interviewed, he shoves a dildo in his mouth repeatedly, and the man keeps talking!

In KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE (1977) there is a funny scene using microphones in a TV studio interview setting. It's quite different from what Tom Green does live on the street, but perhaps it was the "inspiration" for him.

The "making of" or "behind the scenes" parts are a total bore, with Tom Green completely absent. His boring producer, boring camera man, and other bores do their best to bore us with information we don't want to hear.

The "MTV Tom Green Subway Monkey Hour" (filmed in Tokyo) and his many TV shows done in Canada are much better. And let's not forget ROAD TRIP (2000), STEALING HARVARD (2002), and FREDDY GOT FINGERED (2001). The latter movie won the "worst movie" award, and Green showed up in a tux at the ceremony to accept the award. Bravo!


CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS is based on John Grisham's best-selling novel, "Skipping Christmas". The title was changed to avoid confusion with SURVIVING CHRISTMAS, which was released the same year. This film is Tim Allen's fourth Christmas movie to date.

Luther Krank (Tim Allen) estimates that Christmas costs him $6,000, so he convinces his wife Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) to skip Christmas and take a Caribbean cruise instead. It's an all or nothing decision: there will be absolutely no Christmas for the Kranks

Their friends, neighbours and associates react with extreme disapproval. Luther Krank becomes increasingly Scrooge-like. For example, when a religious group comes singing Christmas carols at his door, Luther considers them to be "trespassers". Spike Frohmeyer says, "You're skipping Christmas! Isn't that against the law?"

Then teen-age daughter Blair (Julie Gonzalo) phones to announce she'll be coming home for Christmas. Luther and Nora abruptly change their plans and celebrate the holiday season after all. The second half of the film is more like what you'd expect from a Christmas movie.

Nora: "You forgot the white chocolate."
Luther: "They didn't have any."
Nora: "Did you talk to Rex?"
Luther: "Who's Rex?"
Nora: "The butcher."
Luther: "As odd as it sounds, I didn't think to ask the butcher where the chocolate was!"

(last lines)
Luther: "Skipping Christmas. What a stupid idea."
Nora: "Maybe next year."

Also in the cast are: Dan Aykroyd (Vic Frohmeyer), M. Emmett Walsh (Walt Scheel), Elizabeth Franz (Bev Scheel), Eric Per Sullivan (Spike Frohmeyer), Cheeh Marin (Officer Salino), Jake Busey (Officer Treen), Austin Pendleton (Marty), Tom Poston (Father Zabriskie), Rene Levan (Enrique DeCardenal), Caroline Rhea (Candi), Felicity Huffman (Merry), Patrick Breen (Aubie), John Short (Ned Becker), Bonita Friedericy (Jude Becker), David Hornsby (Randy Becker), Kevin Chamberlain (Mr. Scanlon), Lyndon Smith (Randy Scanlon), Ryan Pfening (Gus Scanlon), Mark Christopher Lawrence (Wes Trodgen), Rachel L. Smith (Trish Trodgen), Vernee Watson-Johnson (Dox), Arden Myrin (Daisy), Dava Hulsey (Amanda Frohmeyer), and many others. Chris Columbus wrote the script from John Grisham's novel. Music is by John Debney and Paul Morabito. Joe Roth directed.

Looking at the internet entries, film critics generally do not like this film. Ordinary viewers' opinions vary tremendously. Some give it one star, some give it five stars, and most are in-between.

I watched it last night on DVD for the first time. The picture quality was great and I liked having the choice between wide-screen and full-screen formats (I chose full-screen). Like most DVDs the sound level was too low with too much dynamic range, so I was constantly adjusting the volume on my surround sound system.

CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS was amusing and always held my interest. It was good to see Dan Aykroyd and Cheech Marin. However, the film seemed mediocre and just another Christmas "product". I was turned off by the premise that it's best to conform to the expectations of others, but I liked that it stressed the importance of family, friends, and neighbours.

MARILYN: Portrait of a Legend (1992) * * 1/2

Who murdered Marilyn Monroe? Yesterday I watched the documentary "MARILYN: Portrait of a Legend". It is better than my other documentaries on her, which show the same photos and film clips and re-hash the same "official" biographical information. The only exception is MARILYN & THE KENNEDYS (1988), which explains the 25 year cover-up of Marilyn's murder.

MARILYN starts by mentioning she was illegitimate, dispels some of the myths about her, and shows photos of her I've never seen before. Some film clips from her early career were also new to me, and her performance at JFK's birthday party is shown in its entirety. Elton John's lovely "Candle in the Wind" plays throughout the film.

The last part is the most shocking. Robert Slatzer, the writer, film director, close friend & advisor, and former husband to Marilyn Monroe carefully explains that Marilyn was murdered by the CIA because of her affairs with John and Robert Kennedy.

At the time of her death, Marilyn was happy. She had been re-hired to finish "Something's Got To Give" and told all her friends about her optimistic plans for the future.

Marilyn also scheduled a press conference to tell the world about her affairs with the Kennedys. Deadly mistake. Robert Kennedy secretly (with many witnesses) met with Marilyn the night of her murder. Jimmy Hoffa bugged her home and there is an audio tape of a violent argument between Marilyn and Robert at 10:30 pm, August 4, 1962.

Comatose, but still alive, Marilyn was taken to Santa Monica Hospital. She died sometime between 10:30 pm and midnight, then her body was returned to her home and arranged as a suicide. Police could find NO fingerprints whatsoever anywhere in her home. The CIA had done a thorough clean-up.

An autopsy revealed that she had died of a drug overdose, but there was no trace of medication in her digestive system. She had been injected with enough Nembutal to kill 10 people or 3 horses.

There was no Coroner's Inquest. For years Robert Slatzer and others worked to have her murder investigated. Finally a Grand Jury Inquiry was approved, but the District Attorney fired the Foreman. This was unprecedented in California legal history. There is no statute of limitations for murder. When the documentary was made, 7 people knew exactly what happened to Marilyn Monroe on 08/04/62. None have ever testified under oath.

Rest In Peace, Marilyn. "And it seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind, never knowing who to cling to when the rain set in."

SPACEBALLS (1987) * * 2/3

SPACEBALLS begins with an opening crawl stolen from STAR WARS (1977) which George Lucas stole from the FLASH GORDON (1930's) serials. It ends with, "If you can read this, you don't need glasses" in tiny letters.

On Planet Druidia, Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) is about to marry Prince Valium (JM J. Bullock). He is insufferably boring, but is the last known prince in the galaxy so she has no choice. Vespa suddenly gets cold feet at the altar and escapes with her robot Dot Matrix (Lorene Yarnell/Joan Rivers) into outer space.

On neighbouring planet Spaceball there is a shortage of air. President Skroob (Mel Brooks) and his top military leader Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) plan to steal Druidia's air by kidnapping and ransoming Princess Vespa. If Druidia does not cooperate, Spaceball will reverse Vespa's nose job.

Vespa's father King Roland (Dick Van Patten) hires Captain Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) from the Ford Galaxy and Barfolomew (John Candy) to rescue the princess. Barfolomew or Barf is a "mawg", half dog and half man. He and Lone Starr are desperate for money to pay back a debt to Pizza the Hutt (Dom DeLuise), a large pizza lifeform and mafia boss.

Barfolomew: "I know we need the money, but..."
Lone Starr: "Listen. We're not just doing this for money. We're doing it for a s**t load of money."
Barfolomew: "Oh, you're right. And when you're right, you're right. And you - you're always right."
Lone Starr: "Barf! Barf! Barf!"
Barfolomew: "Always when I'm eating"

Lone Starr and Barf are helped by the wise alien Yoghurt (Mel Brooks) and his awesome power "The Schwartz". Dark Helmet and Lone Starr have a duel with energy beams emanating from their Schwartz rings. In the movie "Schwartz" has phallic connotations, and during the duel the Schwartz beams are clearly phallic images. Dark Helmet says, "You have the ring, and I see your Schwartz is as big as mine...now let's see how well you handle it."

Zircon: "Shall I have Snotty beam you down, sir?"
Skroob: "I don't know about this beaming stuff? Is it safe?"
Zircon: "Oh yes, sir. Snotty beamed me twice last night. It was wonderful."

Eventually Lone Starr and Barf rescue Vespa, destroy Spaceball's spaceship, and restore Druidia's air supply. And it turns out that Lone Starr is actually a prince so he marries Princess Vespa. Pizza the Hutt gets trapped in his car and eats himself to death. Dark Helmet and his crew survive a crash-landing on "Planet of the Apes".

SPACEBALLS is the best spoof and parody of STAR WARS ever, and it also has references to STAR TREK, ALIEN, WIZARD OF OZ, and PLANET OF THE APES. The movie is a sci-fi comedy classic, one of Mel Brooks' best. It is cheerfully funny and withstands repeated viewings fairly well. John Morris' musical score is also an excellent spoof of the genre.

However, the movie is crude, crass, obvious, tame, tentative, somewhat disappointing, and the actors are more amused by their own antics than the audience. Basically it's a collection of verbal and visual jokes and one-liners. There are enough funny moments to make it enjoyable, but some of the attempts at humour don't work very well. STAR WARS has been lampooned to death, and this film is most suitable for fans of sci-fi and Mel Brooks.

Others in the cast include: George Wyner (Colnel Sandurz), John Hurt (Kane), Leslie Bevis (Commanderette Zircon), Jim Jackman (Major Asshole), Mike Pniewski (Laser Gunner), Sandy Helberg (Dr. Schlotkin), Denise Gallup (Charlene), Dian Gallup (Marlene), Rudy De Luca (Vinnie), Ed Gale (Dink), Brenda Strong (Gretchen), and many others. The script was written by Mel Brooks, Thomas Meehan, and Ronny Graham. Music was composed by John Morris. Mel Brooks directed.

STAR WARS (1977) * * * *

Not so long ago, in a Hollywood not so far, far away, young Lucas Filmmaker wanted to make the first STAR TREK movie. The bosses at Paramount Studios said "NO!".

Undetterred, Lucas decided to make his own version of Star Trek. George Lucas claims to have an IQ of 94, so he aimed his movie at 14 year olds and younger. For inspiration he looked to the same source as Star Trek, which is FLASH GORDON. Although the late Gene Roddenberry claimed "Horation Hornblower" was his model for Star Trek, it was very obviously the 1930's FLASH GORDON serials. I don't know who is the biggest bulls**tter, Roddenberry or Lucas.

Lucas ripped-off the opening crawl from FLASH GORDON, and spent his $11 million budget to make one of the best motion pictures in history. It tells the story of a young man (Mark Hamill) who becomes an interplanetary hero with the help of human and robot colleagues. The special effects are superb, and it won 7 Oscars for technical excellence.

When the movie was released and was a smash hit, Lucas suddenly decided to make it a "Trilogy", so STAR WARS became "STAR WARS Episode IV: A New Hope". He announced there would be three trilogies. What happened to the third trilogy? Lucas recently announced a STAR WARS TV series.

STAR WARS IV (usually abbreviated to "ANH" by fans) is set 19 years after the formation of the Galactic Empire. There is a civil war in the galaxy and a Death Star space station capable of destoying planets is developed. Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) a leader of the Rebel Alliance is captured and taken to the Death Star. She manages to entrust plans of the weapon to droid R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) and its partner C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels). The droids are captured by Jawas and sold to Owen Lars (Phil Brown) and his nephew Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).

Princess Leia: (in a holo message) "General Kenobi: Years ago, you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to present my father's request to you in person. But my ship has fallen under attack and I'm afraid my mission to Alderaan has failed. I've placed information vital to the survival of the rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope."

Luke Skywalker meeets Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness) on planet Tatooine. Luke's home is destroyed and Obi-Wan begins Luke's Jedi training to facilitate the rescue of Princess Leia. At Mos Eisley Spaceport he meets Han Solo (Harrison Ford) who transports the group on his ship Millennium Falcon. Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) destroys Leia's home planet Alderaan. A tractor beam pulls the Falcon into the Death Star, Obi-Wan has a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader (David Prowse), and our heroes escape in the Falcon.

Han Solo: "Stay sharp. There's two more coming in. They'll try and cut us off."
Luke: "Why don't you outrun them? I thought you said this thing was fast."
Han Solo: "Watch your mouth kid, or you're gonna find yourself floating home. We'll be safe enough once we make the jump to hyperspace. Besides, I know a few maneuvers. We'll lose em'."
(the ship shudders as an explosion flashes outside the window)
Han Solo: "Here's where the fun begins!"
Obi-Wan: "How long before you can make the jump to light speed?"
Han Solo: "It'll take a few moments to get the coordinates from the navi-computer."
(the ship begins to rock violently as lasers hit it)
Luke: "Are you kidding? At the rate they're gaining..."
Han Solo: "Traveling through hyperspace isn't like dusting crops, boy!"

Actually the Empire allowed the escape to track their ship to the Rebel Base on Yavin IV. There is a battle with squadrons of Rebel ships vs. the Death Star. Luke uses the Force to help destroy the Death Star with the help of Han Solo and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). In a ceremony at the Massassi Temple on Yavin IV, Luke and Han are awarded medals of valor by Princess Leia.

The cast also includes: Shelagh Fraser (Aunt Beru), Jack Purvis (Chief Jawa), Alex McCrindle (General Dodonna), Eddie Byrne (General Willard), Drewe Henley (Red Leader), DEnis Lawson (Red Two), Garrick Hagon (Red Three), Jack Klaff (Red Four), William Hootkins (Red Six), Angus MacInnes (Gold Leader), Jeremy Sinden (Gold Two), Graham Ashley (Gold Five), Don Henderson (General Taggi), Richard LeParmentier (General Motti), Mark Austin (Boba Fett), Janice Burchette (Nabrun Leids), Ted Burnett (Wuher), Barry Copping (Wioslea), Alfie Curtis (Dr. Evazan), Maria De Aragon (Greedo)<>

Although he had unabashedly ripped-off FLASH GORDON and STAR TREK, George Lucas actually sued BATTLESTAR: GALACTICA (1979) for ripping off STAR WARS. The greedy idiot lost, of course.

The second STAR WARS movie THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980) is just as good, and has a different director (Irvin Kershner). The third, RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983) is not as good. Lucas tried to re-invent the Teddy Bear with the Ewoks (yech!), and the ending is terrible.

Starting in 1997, George Lucas souped-up the special effects on the three movies and added extra footage. He called them "Special Editions". It is virtually unprecedented for an artist to return to his finished works decades later and "improve" them.

In 1999 Lucas released THE PHANTOM MENACE. In 2002 he released ATTACK OF THE CLONES, and in 2005 THE REVENGE OF THE SITH. They differ from the first trilogy in the horrible use of computer generated cartoon characters and the over-use of digital special effects The characters and dialogue tend to be wooden and the films are inferior.

The first STAR WARS earned $798 million during its original theatrical release. The first five STAR WARS movies made over $3.5 billion. Let's not forget merchandising: George Lucas has raked in over $10 billion from STAR WARS toys and paraphernalia.

Star Trek NEMESIS (2002) * * *

Captain William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and Counselor Deanna Troi-Riker (Marina Sirtis) get married in Alaska. The Enterpise is sent to the neutral zone near Romulan space and finds B-4, a prototype of Data. Then they meet Praetor Shinzon (Tom Hardy), a human cloned from Picard, who now rules Romulus. Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is captured and Shinzon plans to destroy Earth.

(first lines)
Senator: "Senators, consider the opportunities for the Empire. At last, the destinies of the planets Romulus and Remus will be united. Shinzon of Remus is offering us a chance to make ourselves stronger than ever before. It would be madness to reject it. I beg you not to let prejudice or politics interfere with this Alliance. By joining Shinzon's forces with ours, not even the Federation will be able to stand in our way."

Shinzon: "You are me. The same noble Picard blood runs through our veins. Had you lived my life, you'd be doing exactly as I am... Look in the mirror and see yourself. Consider that, Captain... I can think of no greater torment for you."
Picard: "I'm a mirror for you as well."
Shinzon: "Not for long. I 'm afraid you won't survive to witness the victory of the echo... over the voice."
Picard: "Why am I here?"
Shinzon: "I was lonely. You're too slow, old man. My life is meaningless as long as you're still alive. What am I while you exist? A shadow? An echo?"

Android: "The B-4 is physically identical to me, although his neural pathways are not as advanced. But even if they were, he would not be me."
Picard: "How can you be sure?"
Android: "I aspire, sir. To be better than I am. The B-4 does not. Nor does Shinzon. (to B-4) I must deactivate you."
B-4: "For how long?"
Android: "Indefinitely."
B-4: "How long is tha...
Android: "A long time, brother."

Like the other Star Trek TNG movies, NEMESIS is just like the TV series, but with more expensive production values. It is the tenth Star Trek film. I watched the movie on DVD, widescreen of course, which I despise. Over 50% of the TV screen is black bars. With the zoom feature I was able to get a beautiful picture, almost full screen.

NEMESIS is basically a rehash of STAR TREK II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982), with Shinzon as a not very threatening version of Khan. Like the other TNG movies, it's a boring disappointment. There is an emphasis on action this time, but not much of a story, character development, intrigue, or excitement. It looks good, but it's just more of the same. We've seen all of this before.

The main problem with the Star Trek TNG cast is most characters are not charming, with the exceptions of Data, Worf, O'Brien and sometimes Riker. All of the cast members of the original franchise are very charming.

Another alarming problem with Star Trek is its bad habit of killing off major characters. Spock died, Kirk died, Sarek died, 3 Enterprises were destroyed, etc. In the original series only dispensable characters died. How can they continue the saga with all the major characters dead? If you haven't seen NEMESIS, I won't ruin it for you by revealing which major character kicks the bucket this time.

Picard is the most alien creature in Star Trek TNG. He looks the most peculiar and speaks like Hamlet in outer space. All other characters, even from distant galaxies, talk like they're from Chicago. I've never liked the Picard character, mainly because he is portrayed as the greatest creature in the universe. He literally buries Kirk in Star Trek GENERATIONS. Picard is pompous, uneducated (Patrick Stewart left school at age 15), ugly, and too old for the part. Bring back Shatner!

Others in the cast include: Brent Spiner (Data), LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge), Michael Dorn (Worf), Dina Meyer (Commander Donatra), Jude Ciccolella (Commander Suran), Alan Dale (Praetor Hiren), Micheal Owen (Branson), Kate Mulgrew (Admiral Kathryn Janeway), Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher), Gates McFadden (Dr. Beverly Crusher), Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan), Bryan Singer (Kelly), and many others. The writing is credited to Rick Berman, Brent Spiner, and John Logan. Jerry Goldsmith composed the music. Stuart Baird directed.

NEMESIS is supposedly the last movie with the Star Trek TNG crew. A prequel is currently being filmed with a new cast.

STAR TREK - The Motion Picture (1979) * * * 1/2

The first STAR TREK movie is the best. It had the best budget ($46 million), best special effects, and best director by far, Robert Wise. The movie withstands repeated viewings best, the cast members from the original series are still relatively young, and it is the most faithful to the TV show. It is a Science Fiction masterpiece.

Rear Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) takes control of the new, improved Enterprise to combat a deadly force headed directly for Earth. Commander Spock (Leonard Nimoy) fails his Kolinahr initiation on Vulcan, senses the threat to Earth, then joins the rest of the crew on the Enterprise. Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) is drafted and also is reluctantly reunited. Captain Willard Decker (Stephen Collins) is temporarily demoted and an over-sexed Deltan, Lieutenant Ilea (Persis Khambatta), beams aboard to join the crew as navigator.

Ilia: "I would never take advantage of a sexually immature species. You can assure him that's the truth, can't you? My oath of celibacy is on record, Captain."
Kirk: "Well, Bones. Do the new medical facilities meet with your approval?"
McCoy: "They do not. It's like working in a damn computer center."
Kirk: "Evaluation, Mr. Spock."
Spock: "Fascinating. It's life, Captain, but not life as we know it."
McCoy: "Spock, you haven't changed a bit. You're just as warm and sociable as ever."
Spock: "Nor have you, doctor, as your continued predilection for irrelevancy demonstrates."

The threat is called "V'ger", a gigantic space craft. When I first saw this movie in theatres I instantly recognized that "V'ger" was re-cycled from "Nomad", a machine probe in Episode 37 ("The Changeling") from the original TV series. This is the only thing I've ever disliked about this great movie.

Spock: "V'ger must evolve. Its knowledge has reached the limits of this universe and it must evolve. What it requires of its god, doctor, is the answer to its question: Is there nothing more?"
McCoy: "What more is there than the universe, Spock?"
Decker: "Other dimensions. Higher levels of being."
Spock: "The existence of which cannot be proven logically. Therefore, V'ger is incapable of believing in them."
Kirk: "What it needs in order to evolve... is a human quality. Our capacity to leap beyond logic."
Decker: "And joining with its creator might accomplish that."
McCoy: "You mean this machine wants to physically join with a human? Is that possible?"
Decker: "Let's find out."

(last lines)
DiFalco: "Heading, sir?"
Kirk: "Out there... thataway."

The cast also includes: James Doohan (Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott), George Takei (Lt. Cmdr. Hikaru Sulu), Majel Barrett (Dr. Christine Chapel), Walter Koenig (Lt. Pavel Chekov), Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Cmdr. Uhura), Grace Lee Whitney (CPO Janice Rand), Mark Lenard (Klingon Captain), Billy Van Zandt (Alien boy), Roger Aaron Brown (Epsilon technician), Jon Rashad Kamal (Cmdr. Sonak), Marcy Lafferty (Chief DiFalco), Terrence O'Connor (Cheif Ross), Michael Rougas (Lt. Cleary), Susan O'Sullivan (Vice-Adm. Lori Ciana), and many others. Writing credits are Gene Roddenberry, Alan Dean Foster, Harold Livingston, and Leonard Nimoy. Music was composed by Jerry Goldsmith. Robert Wise directed.

Critics and some Trekkies do not like this film. Why? Just read reviews about why 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is considered a magnificent, flawless masterpiece. Take these same superlatives about 2001's brilliance, turn them into negative criticisms, then dump them on STAR TREK--THE MOTION PICTURE. That's what is "wrong" with this film, it's similar to 2001 but superior. 2001 is boring, vacuous, unresolved, and pretentious in comparison. A good example of the idiocy of some reviewers is a complaint that the STAR TREK movie is too long at 132 minutes. The same review later claims that the 143 minute version is "an improvement". Can you believe it?

This film is not about action, it's an exploration of the philosophical relationship between logic and emotion. It has an excellent simple plot, suspense, good character development, terrific special effects, superb music, great cinematography, correct science, and a believable conflict. The wonderful production details cannot be appreciated in one viewing. Plus, the Enterprise environment is clean! Most modern sci-fi films have space ships that are dirty, grimy, unsanitary, gloomy, and depressing. I have to take a bath after watching over-rated filthy crap such as ALIEN (1979).

Theme music by Jerry Goldsmith was later appropriated by the Star Trek TNG TV series as its theme music. A little bit of Alexander Courage's theme music from the original TV series can be heard in the movie during Kirk's log entry.

The male actors hated the uniforms, which look good, but were very uncomfortable in the crotch area. Kirk and Spock both originally took the "Space Walk" to V'ger. James Doohan (Scotty) invented the Vulcan words uttered at the Kolinahr ceremony. Uhuru's communication earpiece is the only prop from the original TV series. This is the only STAR TREK movie where phasers are not fired.

Orson Welles narrates the trailer for the film and rightfully says, "It will startle your senses. Challenge your intellect. And change your perception of the future..by taking you there."

Yes, the movie is slow, plodding and talky with too many special effects, but that's what I like about it. This would definitely be my "desert island" movie, something I could watch every night and not tire of, because most of the time not much happens so I don't remember much the next time I watch it.

THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) * * * 1/2

Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) is a private detective in San Francisco whose partner Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) is murdered while tailing a man. The woman who hired Archer is Miss Ruth Wonderly (Mary Astor) and is after the "Maltese Falcon", a gold-encrusted statue of a bird reputed to contain priceless jewels worth millions. Elegant Ruth Wonderly is a femme fatale whose real name is Mrs. Brigid O'Shaughnessy, although she also uses the alias Miss Leblanc. She is a treacherous liar and when she tells Spade, "I've been bad, worse than you could know", he replies, "You know, that's good, because if you actually were as innocent as you pretend to be, we'd never get anywhere."

There are more murders and the police suspect Spade, who in his investigation meets many strange and shady characters. Effeminate Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) and fat, erudite Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet) are international scoundrels who also want the "black bird". Gutman drugs Spade and orders "gunsel" Wilmer (Elisha Cook Jr.) to kick and beat the unconscious detective. Sam Spade is caught in a maze of double crosses and back stabbing. No wonder he is cynical and hardboiled. He can be unscrupulous, but usually sticks to his own personal code of honour. His character marks the introduction of the morally ambiguous hero in movies, a preview of the modern antihero.

Bryan: "Who killed Thursby?"
Spade: "I don't know."
Bryan: "Perhaps you don't, but you could make an excellent guess."
Spade: "My guess might be excellent or it might be crummy, but Mrs. Spade didn't raise any children dippy enough to make guesses in front of a district attorney, and an assistant district attorney and a stenographer."
Bryan: "Why shouldn't you, if you have nothing to conceal?"
Spade: "Everybody has something to conceal."
Bryan: "I'm a sworn officer of the law, 24 hours a day, and neither formality nor informality justifies you withholding evidence of crime from me. Except, of course, on constitutional grounds."
Spade: "Now, both you and the police have as much as accused me of being mixed up in the other night's murders. Well, I've had trouble with both of you before. And as far as I can see my best chance of clearing myself of the trouble you're trying to make for me, is by bringing in the murderers all tied up. And the only chance I've got of catching them, and tying them up, and bringing them in, is by staying as far away as possible from you and the police, because you'd only gum up the works."

Gutman: "You're a close-mouthed man?"
Spade: "Nah, I like to talk."
Gutman: "Better and better. I distrust a close-mouthed man. He generally picks the wrong time to talk and says the wrong things. Talking's something you can't do judiciously, unless you keep in practice. Now, sir. We'll talk, if you like. I'll tell you right out, I am a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk."
Spade: "Swell. Will we talk about the black bird?"
Gutman: "Let's. Mr. Spade, have you any conception of how much money can be got for that black bird?"
Spade: "No."
Gutman: "Well, sir, if I told you... If I told you half... you'd call me a liar."
Spade: "No, not even if I thought so."

Brigid: "I do know he always went heavily armed, and that he never went to sleep without covering the floor around his bed with crumpled newspapers, so that nobody could come silently into his room."
Spade: "You picked a nice sort of a playmate."
Brigid: "Only that sort could have helped me, if he'd been loyal."

In the end it turns out Brigid killed Archer to implicate her mysterious accomplice Thursby. "You killed Miles" Spade says, "and you're going over for it." Sam Spade turns Mrs. O'Shaughnessy over to the police and tells her, "I hope they don't hang you, precious, by that sweet neck. Yes, angel, I'm gonna send you over. The chances are you'll get off with life. That means if you're a good girl, you'll be out in 20 years. I'll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I'll always remember you."

THE MALTESE FALCON is the definitive version of Dashiell Hammett's 1930 novel, one of the best and most popular detective mysteries of all time. The movie is virtually identical to the book, word-for-word and scene-for-scene. Huston dropped only one short scene, which he substituted with a phone call. There are many plot twists. It is probably the first "film noir" movie, dark both literally and figuratively. There are harsh shadows, a sinister atmosphere, menacing scenes, and a focus on crime, sex, and corruption--all in low-key black and white.

John Huston scripted and made his directorial debut with this fast-paced masterpiece. His father, Walter Huston, has a cameo as Captain Jocobi. The dialogue is great, and the film looks terrific in "glorious" b & w, with close attention to detail. This movie was completed in two months and cost less than $300,000 to produce.

Outstanding performances are given by a perfect cast that also includes: Gladys George (Iva Archer), Barton MacLane (Det. Lt. Dundy), Lee Patrick (Effie Perine), Ward Bond (Det. Tom Polhaus), James Burke (Luke), Murray Alper (Frank Richman), and John Hamilton (District Attorney Bryan), Charles Drake, Chester Gan, Creighton Hale, Robert Homans, William Hopper, Hank Mann, Jack Mower, and Emory Parnell. Music was composed by Adolph Deutsch.

MALTESE FALCON is one of the all-time great movies and has been imitated too often, but none have come close to its perfection. It actually improves with each viewing. The last line in the film is Sam Spade describing the statue: "It's the stuff dreams are made of." The same can be said of this movie.

"The Maltese Falcon" book had been filmed twice before with different titles. In 1931 Ricardo Cortez and Bebe Daniels starred in DANGEROUS FEMALE (TV title). It's good, similar to the classic with Cortez more of a lady's man. The Hays Office censors kept it off the market due to it's "lewd" (including homosexual) content. Then SATAN MET A LADY was produced in 1936 with Warren William and Bette Davis. It's a loose adaptation, a light comedy with the characters renamed. BLACK BIRD (1975) is the satirical sequel with George Segal as son Sam Spade Jr. MALTESE FALCON has been spoofed in THE MALTESE BIPPY (1969) with Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, MURDER BY DEATH (1976), THE CHEAP DETECTIVE (1978), and THE BIG GOODBYE (1988).

THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951) * * *

In 1914 Canadian boat skipper Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) uses his steamer, the African Queen, to ferry mail and supplies to villages in German East Africa during WWI. A missionary, Rev. Samuel Sayer (Robert Morley) is killed by German soldiers and Charlie agrees to take Sayer's spinster sister, Rose (Katharine Hepburn) back to civilization. Charlie tells Rose that the Germans have a gunboat, the Empress Louisa, patrolling a large lake downriver that blocks British counterattacks. Charlie tells Rose, "Well I ain't sorry for you no more, ya crazy, psalm-singing, skinny old maid."

Rose has a plan to convert the African Queen into a torpedo to sink the Empress Louisa, and she persudaes Charlie to navigate the very dangerous Ulanga River. Their exciting adventure is more difficult because of personality conflicts. She is a prim and proper church organist, and he is a rough and dissolute alcoholic. The pair must combat the elements, the Germans, and each other. Fortunately, they fall in love and become romantic with perfect chemistry.

Charlie: "All this fool talk about The Louisa. Goin' down the river..."
Rose: "What do you mean?"
Charlie: "I mean we ain't goin' to do nothin' of the sort."
Rose: "Why, of course we're going! What an absurd idea."
Charlie: "What an absurd idea! What an absurd idea! Lady, I may be a born fool, but you got ten absurd ideas to my one, an' don't you forget it. We can't do that."
Rose: "How do you know? You never tried it."
Charlie: "Well, yeah, but I never tried shooting myself in the head neither."

Charlie: "How'd you like it?
Rose: "Like it?
Charlie: "White water rapids."
Rose: "I never dreamed..."
Charlie: "I don't blame you for being scared - not one bit. Nobody with good sense ain't scared of white water..."
Rose: "I never dreamed that any mere physical experience could be so stimulating! Now that I've had a taste of it I don't wonder why you love boating."

The African Queen sinks in the lake and both are captured and taken aboard the Empress Louisa, where Charlie asks the Captain (Peter Bull) to marry them before executing them as spies. The Captain says, "By the authority vested in me by Kaiser William II, I pronounce you man and wife. Proceed with the execution." Once married, the German gunboat explodes because it hits the submerged African Queen and its torpedoes. The newly-married couple swim to safety.

Also in the cast are: Theodore Bikel (in his film debut as First Officer), Walter Gotell (Second Officer), Peter Swanwick (First Officer of Shona), Richard Marner (Second Officer of Shona), Gerald Onn (Petty Officer), John von Kotze (German officer), and Errol John. The script was written by James Agee, John Huston, and Peter Viertel from C. S. Forester's 1935 novel. Viertel took over from Agee who suffered a serious heart attack. Original music is by Allan Gray. John Huston directed.

Filmed on location in Uganda and on the Lualaba River by cinematographer Jack Cardiff, THE AFRICAN QUEEN is great fun, a mixture of wry comedy, character, adventure, and romance. Scenes in the riverbank were filmed in Dalyan, Turkey. Scenes of Bogart and Hepburn in the water were shot in studio tanks in England. The "Queen of Africa" was the "LS Livingston" for 40 years before it appeared in the movie. It is now docked next to the Holiday Inn off US Highway 1, in Key Largo, Florida.

Humphrey Bogart won his only Oscar for his brilliant performance. This was Bogart's fourth film to be directed by Huston, and he clearly demonstrates his range as an actor while holding his own opposite the formidible Hepburn. It was the first colour film for Bogart, Hepburn, and Huston. AFRICAN QUEEN is a great classic.

CASABLANCA (1942) * * * *

CASABLANCA is probably the best Hollywood movie of all time. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman star in this timeless classic, a melodramatic tragic love story and WWII propaganda piece. It won three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.

(first lines)
Narrator: "With the coming of the Second World War, many eyes in imprisoned Europe turned hopefully, or desperately, toward the freedom of the Americas. Lisbon became the great embarkation point. But, not everybody could get to Lisbon directly, and so a tortuous, roundabout refugee trail sprang up - Paris to Marseilles... across the Mediterranean to Oran... then by train, or auto, or foot across the rim of Africa, to Casablanca in French Morocco. Here, the fortunate ones through money, or influence, or luck, might obtain exit visas and scurry to Lisbon; and from Lisbon, to the New World. But the others wait in Casablanca... and wait... and wait... and wait."

Set in Rick's Cafe Americain, owned by Richard Blaine (Bogart), the plot centres on the arrival of his old flame, Ilsa Lund (Bergman). Rick once fought with Spanish loyalists and smuggled arms to Ethiopia, but now refuses to stick his neck out for anyone. He is bitter, cynical and does not hide his contempt for his Nazi customers.

Rick: "I came to Casablanca for the waters."
Louis: "What waters? We're in the desert."
Rick: "I was misinformed."

Rick obtains two rare "letters of transit" from Ugarte (Peter Lorre) that would allow him to travel to neutral Lisbon, Portugal and then to the USA. Ugarte says, "You despise me don't you?" Rick responds, "If I gave you any thought I probably would." When Ilsa unexpectedly visits Rick's Cafe with her husband Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), Rick becomes very upset.

Ilsa: "Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake."
Sam: "I don't know what you mean, Miss Ilsa."
Ilsa: "Play it, Sam. Play As Time Goes By."
Sam: "Oh, I can't remember it, Miss Ilsa. I'm a little rusty on it."
Ilsa: "I'll hum it for you. Da-dy-da-dy-da-dum, da-dy-da-dee-da-dum..."
(Sam begins playing)
Ilsa: "Sing it, Sam."
Sam: "You must remember this, a kiss is still a kiss, A sigh is just a sigh; The fundamental things apply, As time goes by. And when two lovers woo, they still say, "I love you," On that you can rely; No matter what the future brings..."
Rick: (rushing up) "Sam, I thought I told you never to play..."
(Rick sees Ilsa. Sam closes the piano and rolls it away)
Ilsa: "I wasn't sure you were the same. Let's see, the last time we met..."
Rick: "Was La Belle Aurore."
Ilsa: "How nice, you remembered. But of course, that was the day the Germans marched into Paris."
Rick: "Not an easy day to forget."
Ilsa: "No."
Rick: "I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue. How long was it we had, honey?"
Ilsa: "I didn't count the days."
Rick: "Well, I did. Every one of them. Mostly, I remember the last one, the wild finish. A guy standing on a station platform in the rain, with a comical look on his face, because his insides have been kicked out."

Ilsa wants the escape documents for her Czech Resistance leader spouse, and threatens Rick with a gun when he refuses. Rick is not intimidated, then Ilsa claims she still loves him. The relationship is finished for Rick, and he tells her, "We'll always have Paris."

At the airport Rick doublecrosses corrupt police Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) and makes Ilsa and Victor take the plane to Lisbon. Rick kills Nazi Major Strasser (Conrad Veidt) and Renault saves Rick's life by ordering the police to "round up the usual suspects". The two leave Casablanca. As they disappear into the fog, Rick says, "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

The movie has romance, intrigue, moody atmosphere, beautiful music, thrills and excitement, humour and pathos. Derived from a second-rate unproduced play riddled with cliches and far-fetched sub-plots, it was miraculously transformed by Director Michael Curtiz. He said: "The scenario isn't the exact truth, but ve haff the facts to prove it."

CASABLANCA's success catapulted Bogart from gangster roles to romanitic leads. Humphrey Bogart ushered in a new type of movie star: the morally ambiguous hero.

Also in the cast are: Sydney Greenstreet (Signor Ferrari), Dooley Wilson (Sam), S.Z. Sakall (Carl), Madeleine LeBeau (Yvonne), Joy Page (Annina Brandel), John Qualen (Berger), Leonid Kinskey (Sascha), Ilka Gruning (Mrs. Leuchtag), Jamiel Hasson (Muezzini), Leo Mostovoy (Fydor), Paul Paner (Paul), Dan Seymour (Abdul), Ludwig Stossel (Mr. Leuchtag), Leo White (Emile), and many others. Writing credits are Murray Burnett, Joan Alison, Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch, and Casey Robinson. Original music is by Max Steiner. Michael Curtiz directed.

Jack Warner wanted George Raft to play Rick, and Warner Brothers initially named Ronald Reagan, Ann Sheridan and Dennis Morgan for the leads. Many of the actors who play Nazis were actually German Jews. "Rick's Cafe Americain" was modeled after the Hotel El Minzah in Tangiers, Morocco. The Herman Hupfeld song "As Time Goes By" was almost removed from the film, but became a smash hit on radio. Dooley Wilson fakes playing the piano in the movie, and he is the only member of the cast who ever actually visited the city of Casablanca. The movie was shot in the Warner Bros. Hollywood studio, except for the ending which was filmed at Van Nuys Airport.

As the world continues to deteriorate, it is comforting to know we'll always have Paris, and we'll always have CASABLANCA as time goes by.

PLAY IT AGAIN SAM (1972) * * *

Allan Felix (Woody Allen) at 29 is a nerdy, neurotic movie columnist and feature writer for Film Quarterly who spends too much time watching movies. His idol is Humphrey Bogart and the film starts with the closing scene from CASABLANCA (1942). His wife Nancy (Susan Anspach) divorces him and explains, "You like movies because you're one of life's great watchers. I'm not like that, I'm a doer." She moves to New York to pursue her career. Allan asks, "I wonder if she actually had an orgasm in the two years we were married, or did she fake it that night?"

His close friends Dick Christie (Tony Roberts) and wife Linda (Diane Keaton) attempt to find him a girl friend. Shy Allan starts dating again, with awkward, pathetic, and disastrous results, until he relaxes. His attempts to be sexy and sophisticated result in klutzy insecure nervousness. He begins receiving advice on love from the ghost of Humphrey Bogart, played flawlessly by impersonator Jerry Lacy. Bogart tells him, "Dames are simple. I never met one that didn't understand a slap in the mouth or a slug from a forty-five" and "You're as nervous as Lizabeth Scott was just before I blew her brains out!"

Allan wants a woman who is tall, blonde, big breasted, and might like him. He says, "I'll get broads up here like you wouldn't believe: swingers, freaks, nymphomaniacs, dental hygienists." He takes a girl to a bar so they can "get high and watch the weirdos". Some of the patrons beat up cowardly Allan and steal his date. Allan tells Dick, "I had to teach them a lesson. I snapped my chin down onto some guy's fist and hit another one in the knee with my nose."

Eventually he falls in love with neurotic and hypochondriac Linda Christie. After they make love, she asks him what he was thinking about. He tells her baseball, and she replies she couldn't figure out why he kept yelling "Slide!". But the relationship is doomed, just as it is for Humphrey Bogart in CASABLANCA. The film's ending is a parody of CASABLANCA, as Allan explains to Linda that she must remain with her husband. He repeats a famous Bogart line, "If that plane leaves the ground, and you're not on it with him, you'll regret it--maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life...It's from CASABLANCA. I waited my whole life to say it."

Herbert Ross directed this delightful adaptation of Woody Allen's hit Broadway play. It opened on February 12, 1969, and ran for 453 performances. Allen and Keaton first met playing their roles on Broadway and this is Allen's first film with Keaton and also Tony Roberts. There is a running joke with workaholic Dick Christie and telephone numbers as he makes real-estate deals. An example: "I'll be at 362-9296 for a while, then I'll be at 648-0024 for about fifteen minutes. Then I'll be at 752-0420, and then I'll be at home at 621-4598. Yeah, right George. Bye-bye."

Also in the cast are: Jenniver Salt (Sharon Lake), Joy Bang (Julie), Viva (Jennifer), Susanne Zenor (Disco girl), Diana Davila (museum girl), Mari Fletcher (fantasy Sharon), Michael Greene (hood #1), Ted Markland (hood #2), and Tom Bullock (taxi hippie). Woody Allen wrote the screenplay. Billy Goldenberg wrote the music, borrowing from the themes of Max Steiner. Oscar Peterson composed "Blues for Allan Felix". Herbert Ross directed. Because of a strike by film workers in New York in the summer of 1971, the film was shot in San Francisco. The film was released May 4, 1972.

Overall, PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM is an entertaining, intelligent and hilarious film from one of cinema's best comedians. It explores the cultural phenomenon of people in modern society living their lives as a movie. The mix of one-liners, pathos, angst, observations on the human condition, and visual comedy is first-rate. Woody Allen does Marx Brothers-type slapstick comedy better than anyone. The plot, lines and pratfalls make it is one of Allen's consistently funniest movies, mixing humour with the serious issues of relationships and fidelity.

SLEEPER (1973) * * *

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton star in this sci-fi spoof. Nerdy health food store owner Miles Monroe (Allen) is cryogenically frozen in 1973 and awakens in 2173 to a futuristic police state of robots and giant vegetables. Because Miles does not have a biometric identity, he is arrested but escapes.

Miles Monroe: "Where am I anyhow, I mean, what happened to everybody, where are all my friends?"
Dr. Aragon: "You must understand that everyone you knew in the past has been dead nearly two hundred years."
Miles Monroe: "But they all ate organic rice""

Miles teams up with Luna Schlosser (Keaton), discovers the truth about the nation's dictator ("The Leader"), then gets involved with revolutionaries attempting to overthrow the government. Rebel leader Erno Windt (John Beck) plans to steal and "assassinate" the nose of The Leader. They had killed him, but his nose survived and will be cloned by the administration in "The Aries Project" Only Miles Monroe with no biometric identity can steal the nose.

Some of the jokes: Future scientists discover that deep fried fatty foods and smoking are extremely healthy. Robots are programmed as Jewish tailors and gay butlers. An abandoned 200-year old Volkwagen car starts up instantly. Miles says, "My brain. That's my second favorite organ!" and "Perform sex? I don't think I'm up to a performance, but I'll rehearse with you, if you like." Luna says, "I got a Ph.D. in oral sex...I think we should have had sex, but there weren't enough people."

Luna: "It's hard to believe that you haven't had sex for 200 years."
Miles: "204, if you count my marriage... When I asked my mother where babies came from, she thought I said "rabies." She said you get them from being bitten by a dog. The next week, a woman on my block gave birth to triplets... I thought she'd been bitten by a great dane."

(last lines)
Luna: "Oh, I see. You don't believe in science, and you also don't believe that political systems work, and you don't believe in God, huh?"
Miles: "Right."
Luna: "So then, what do you believe in?"
Miles: "Sex and death - two things that come once in a lifetime... but at least after death, you're not nauseous."

Loosely based on H. G. Wells' classic "When the Sleeper Wakes", Allen also wrote and directed this gem. He confirmed its scientific feasibility by conferring with scientist Isaac Asimov and sci-fi writer Ben Bova. Woody Allen originally planned SLEEPER as a 3 hour, 2 part movie. Part 1 would be a New York comedy, and the second half would be futuristic. United Artists approved the project, but Allen decided to drop Part 1.

SLEEPER is Woody Allen comedy at its best. There is a non-stop barrage of verbal, character, and visual gags. Lots of slapstick and satire. It is witty, silly, and imaginative, but somewhat dated with attacks on celebrities and pop culture of the 1970's. This was Keaton's first film with Allen, and their on-screen chemistry is marvelous, although their personal relationship had ended.

Also in the cast are: Mary Gregory (Dr. Melik), Don Keefer (Dr. Tryon), John McLiam (Dr. Aragon), Bartlett Robinson (Dr. Orva), Chris Forbes (Rainer Krebs), Mews Small (Dr. Nero), Susan Miller (Ellen Pogrebin), Lou Picetti (M.C.), Brian Avery (Herald Cohen), Spencer Milligan (Jeb Hrmthmg), Stanley Ross (Sears Swiggles), Witney Rydbeck (Janus), and many others. Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman wrote the script. Woody Allen wrote the music and directed.

The Dixieland music score is played by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Woody Allen plays clarinet.

The final cost of Sleeper was $2 million and it grossed over $18 million. In one country the movie was released as "Woody and the Robots", so thereafter Allen had a clause in all his contracts that nobody but Allen could change the title.

CALIGULA (1980) * * 1/2

Caligula (Malcolm McDowell) and his sister Drusilla (Teresa Ann Savoy) frolick in the woods, return home and go to bed. They talk and Caligula asks about Drusilla's husband, insinuating that he has had sex with him.

Emperor Tiberius (Peter O'Toole) sends for Caligula to visit him in Capri. He gives his grandson a tour of the Palace, including the 'Torture Ward'and the 'Villa of the Monsters', a pleasure grotto filled with deformed and bizarre sexual wonders. Tiberius becomes ill and Macro (Guido Mannari) kills him while Caligula looks on.

Tiberius: Serve the state, Caligula, though the people in it are wicked beasts.
Caligula: But they love you, lord.
Tiberius: Oh, no... they fear me...and that is much better...It is fate that rules us, little boots, not any god.
Caligula: You are a god.
Tiberius: No, I'm not. Not even when I'm dead.
Caligula: Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, they are gods.
Tiberius: So says the Senate, and so the people prefer to believe. Such myths are useless

In March of 37 AD Caligula becomes Caesar. He grants a general amnesty, and makes the Senate and all Romans swear allegiance to him and Drusilla. Macro is arrested and beheaded, and Drusilla laughs at Caligula when he says he wants to marry her. Caligula rides his horse, the Honourable Incitatus, into the Senate. In his stable, Caligula becomes sick with a fever and retires to his bed with his horse. A Senator offers his life to Jupiter if Caligula gets well, and the Emperor says, 'Jupiter accepts your offer', and has the Senator killed: 'Execute him.' Caligula recovers.

Caesonia (Helen Mirren) gives birth to Julia Drusilla, then marries Caligula. His sister Drusilla becomes ill and dies. The Emperor leaves his palace, wanders the streets of Rome, and is arrested and thrown into the Imperial Dungeon. When released, he returns to the Senate and proclaims himself a god. Longinus (John Steiner) proclaims him mad, but helps him balance the budget. Caligula says, 'I have existed from the morning of the world and I shall exist until the last star falls from the night. Although I have taken the form of Gaius Caligula, I am all men as I am no man and therefore I am a god.'

Proculus: Divine Ceasar, Please. What have I done? Why am I here?
Caligula: Treason.
Proculus: I have always been loyal to you.
Caligula: That is your treason. You're an honest man, Proculus, which means a bad Roman. Therefore, you are a traitor. Logical, hmm?

Caligula stages an imaginary 'Battle of Britain' followed by a celebration feast. To further balance the budget he decides to confiscate the estates of the many Senators who failed Rome. The Emperor rehearses for a play to be performed at a festival. When he leaves the arena, he and Julia Drusilla are killed. His uncle Claudius (Giancarlo Badessi) is proclaimed the new Emperor of Rome.

Penthouse magazine spent over $22 million to produce this vulgar spectacle of the violent life and times of the mad Roman emperor Caligula. The sets are lavish and the film looks very good. Gore Vidal wrote the screenplay, but as usual, he asked that his name be removed from the credits.

Critics hate this film. Why? Because Penthouse made it and it is not suitable for family viewing. The critics have only seen sanitized 'sword & sandal' epics and apparently have no understanding of history, except for the Hollywood version. Rome in the 1st century AD was decadent. Therefore, the film has graphic depictions of nudity, sexual perversions, rape, necrophilia, bestiality, sodomy, S & M, incest, violence, gore, castration, disembowelment, and strangulation. Sorry, there are no crucifixions.

After the principal shooting was completed with the Hollywood stars, Penthouse added 6 minutes of hard-core porn for an orgy scene near the end. Stand-ins and models replaced the actors. The man with the huge endowment is called 'Lucky Fellows', and he and photos of his 'most famous cock in cinema' can be found on the internet. He was 18 years old at the time and an interview with him follows this review.

Caligula: I hear you have a taste for little boys. Is that not so?
Chaerea: No Caesar, big boys.
Caligula: Longinus, you're not having any fun. Enjoy yourself! What is your preference?
Longinus: Everything and nothing Caesar.

Others in the cast include: John Gielgud (Nerva), Paolo Banacelli (Cassius Chaerea), Leopoldo Trieste ( Charicles), Mirella D'Angelo (Livia), Anneka Di Lorenzo (Messalina), Lori Wagner (Agrippina), Adriana Asti (Ennia), Bruno Brive (Gemellus), Rick Parets (Mnester), Donato Placido (Proclus), and many others. Writing credits are Gore Vidal, Bob Guccione, Giancarlo Lui, Franco Rossellini, and Roberto Rossellini. Music was composed by Bruno Nicolai and Renzo Rossellini. Non-original music is by Aram Khachaturyan and Sergei Prokofiev. Tinto Brass and Bob Guccione directed.

The unrated version of CALIGULA runs 156 minutes. The R-rated version is 105 minutes, and is not as coherent. You cannot remove 33% of a story and expect coherence.


One of those most talked about sequences in the movie, CALIGULA, is the double blow-job scene that ends the Imperial Bordello scene and takes us into the 'Battle of Britian' sequence. In the famous scene, the girls are well known, that is Valerie Rae Clark on the left, and Anneka Di Lorenzo on the right. But who belongs to the cock that both girls are so dilegently sucking on? It was the member of a very well endowed 18 year old extra, known only by his stage name, 'Lucky Fellows'. Lucky is the very first cast member that we have had contact with, and he has been very helpful in telling us which girls were in which scene, and who was doing what to whom! This interview was conducted over 3 different e-mails written between April 30th and June 17th 2002.

CALIGULA SUPERSITE: Hi Lucky, first thing we have to ask is why have you contacted the CALIGULA Supersite?

Lucky: Well, since the re-release of the film, CALIGULA, I have periodically scanned the web for any info on the film, since I was in it, if only for a 5 minute un-credited performance.

CS:But what a five minutes!

Lucky: That is true! Well, back in April I decided to run another search, and came across your Caligula site. I felt great when I saw the picture of my shaft between those girlies, Valerie Rae Clark and Anneka Di Lorenzo. I felt compelled to contact you, as you had identified some of the girls incorrectly!

CS: Ha! The error of our ways was actually a plus, it's great to be talking to you! You will be able to answer so many questions for us!

Lucky: I hope so, what's your first question?

CS: Well, first, tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you came to be involved in the film.

Lucky: Okay, I was born on the outskirts of Rome in 1958. My mother was British, and my father was a native Roman. We moved back to my mother's county in the early 1960's, residing in London. After I graduated from school I applied to University, and deferred for 2 years, having decided to take a year off to travel. I had studied art history, and decided to return to Rome to live a little life. During this time, I lived with relatives from my fathers side of the family, and had half a flat to myself. I ecured a job as a waiter at a nearby pub/cafe which provided a great alibi whenever I stayed out late in the night!

CS: I suppose the cafe was a great place to meet new people?

Lucky: Oh yes, in fact, some friends I had made at the Cafe were performers who were into drama, and they told me all about the casting call for this notorious film being made.

CS: The notorious film being CALIGULA?

Lucky: Yes, exactly! I didn't know about the movie, but my friends filled me in, so on a lark we went to Dear Studios to find out more!

CS: Did you have any idea what you might be in for?

Lucky: I had a pretty good idea. The rumours were wild of all the strange things going on behind the studio walls!

CS: Were you nervous?

Lucky: Not really, I was a real exhibitionist when I was younger! I had been popular with girls in London, and had enjoyed frequent sexual experiences. The girls liked my dark features, and I wasn't shy at ll. I was quite confident when I was in Rome, and had two girlfriends at the time!

CS: So you were a ladies man?

Lucky: (Laughs) Yes, I'd say so. I really enjoyed sex!

CS: So what happened at Dear Studios?

Lucky: There must have been hundreds and hundreds of young people there waiting to be interviewed, some seemed older than me, and some seemed younger. There was a lot of waiting and queing and all of that. A lot of the young Italiennes were absolutely gorgeous. When we were interviewed, in most cases, separately, our photographs were taken, our voices recorded, and then the individuals taking charge of the operation had us try on various dowdy costumes.
CS: Did you have an agent?

Lucky: No, none of us did. We were all anonymous extras, not stars. We really didn't get the low-down until I was called back for a second interview. My two friends were not called back.

CS: About when was this? And what happened?

Lucky: It was about Autumn of 1976, and they were a little more bold with the second interview. They asked me if I would be willing to be filmed nude, and have sex in front of the camera. When I said yes, they asked me to strip. We were in a small room, much like the one shown in 'The Making of Gore Vidal's Caligula' movie. They asked me to get erect, and so a fluffer helped me get 'up', and they were all impressed with the size. They took more snap-shots. After that, they brought some girls in, and tried to match me with a girl that looked good together with me. They took more pictures, and then sent me on my way.

CS: Weren't your relatives wondering what you were up to? Did they know about the movie?

Lucky: There were some questions, and I told them I was simply applying for a job with the catering company that was working on the movie set.

CS: And they had no idea?

Lucky: None. I don't think they could have imagined me doing those things they had heard about!

CS: And from there?

Lucky: I went for a third interview. It was pretty much the same as the 2nd one, except this time they actually filmed me in the costumes and with other girls, but not in a sexual nature.

CS: Did you ever get wind of what was going on with the making of the movie, or see the stars?

Lucky: No, I had no contact with other actors, and I was only allowed to go in certain areas of the studio. There was a very tight schedule, and security was quite enforced.

CS: How so?

Lucky: I had an Identification Card, and there were armed guards at the gates! There was quite alot of talk about the film, and the security guards didn't want anyone getting on the set and seeing what was going on, they wanted the speculation to run high!

CS: The production was fanning the flames of rumours?

Lucky: Oh, very much so. It was the single most talked about event in Rome! I was told not to disclose anything to the press or family, in order to keep the project a secret.

CS: Did you have a problem with that?

Lucky: None whatsoever, it was very exciting, like a James Bond story!

CS: Please carry on...

Lucky: Most of the time I was comfortable being naked because I was a real exhibitionist. I was excited about the initial prospect. The more I went back, the more comfortable I got with the girls there. Most of the young ladies I saw there were local extras, but I did see a couple from Penthouse who looked breath-takingly more sexy each time I saw them. I made friends with with two female extras, and also a bloke who playing a soldier. The two female extras I knew had scenes scrubbing the floors, the sequence with the birth of Julia Drusilla, and the wedding of Proculus and Livia. These girls actually got close to the real stars in the movie!

CS: So with the third call-back, you were feeling pretty well at ease?

Lucky: Yes, it was pretty cool to be in the studio, hanging out with very pretty girls, and having people take pictures of my naked body. But after that third time it looked like that was it.

CS: How so?

Lucky: Well, I went for months without a word, and then a week or so before Christmas 1976, I got a phone call...

CS: Your fourth call back?

Lucky: Yes, the fourth and the best! They asked me if I would be up for some 'Intense Filmin'" after Christmas. I knew what that meant, and I said yes, I would be there!

CS: This would be the famous footage shot after the initial filming?

Lucky: Exactly. It was Bob Guccione and Giancarlo Lui with a small crew.

CS: Did you have any reservations?

Lucky: The only thing I was really worried about was going soft during the shoot! I was afraid that with an audience, and maybe the pressure to perform, I might not be able to rise to the occasion!

CS: But it turned out okay?

Lucky: (Laughs) Oh yes, it turned out Very Okay!

CS: How did they get the ball rolling?

Lucky: First off, I had to sign a release form stating that I would not file a suit against the Production Company, and the footage they shot was too be used however they saw fit.

CS: And once the paperwork was finished?

Lucky: Well, Bob Guccone was the director, and basically told us that we were in an orgy, and he wanted lots of sex. He wanted us to look like we were enjoying it (that wasn't hard!), and do as much to as many different people. There were some female extras, the 10 Penthouse Pets, and about 4 or 5 guys very much like me, young with big cocks!

CS: What was the atmosphere like?

Lucky: If you can beleive it, the atmosphere was very business like. Although we were all naked most of the time, we wern't shagging in between. They would call 'action', and we'd do our thing, and they would yell "cut", and we'd stop! There was a lot of joking and things of this kind.

CS: What was the hygiene like?

Lucky: The Hygiene was excellent! We showered before and after the filming, rehearsing and auditioning. The costumes were a bit daft and uncomfortable, they were really flimsy and gaudy too! This was a sexual free for all.

CS: How many times did you come?

Lucky: I blew my load upwards of 20 times or more, since there were other sex scences involving shagging with the same girls and others. we were told to 'go at it' and yes, if we felt like moaning, we did that too! It was pretty noisy in the studio!

CS: But it was fun?

Lucky: Yes! Fun, but very intense and exhausting...but it was an unbelievable rush. The Imperial Bordello Scene was shot over a series of long days, and also featuring myself in fragmented scenes involving fellatio, coitus, and cunnilingus. These appeared as mere 'clips' in the Bordello Scene! The girls changed thier costumes frequently as well as partners!

CS: What can you tell us about your big scene?

Lucky: Well, the scene that concluded the Imperial Bordello Sequence was not originally shot as a conclusion during the filming, and was re-shot again and again until it was just right. That scene was shot with Valerie Rae Clark and Anneka Di Lorenzo, and as well, a identical 'joint-effort' was carried off by Signe Berger and Henrietta Kelogg (also known as Rhiana Post!) (The picture at the top of this page shows the scene with Signe and Henrietta, they are on the far right, with Lucky sandwiched inbetween!) The filming was rough because I just kept coming and coming. It was intense!

CS: Did you ever imagine it would be like that?

Lucky: Never! I had no idea how fun, and at the same time, hard it would be. The scenes were shot over 3 days, with 2 days off inbetween. Most of the early filming consisted of fore-play leading up to the ejaculations.

CS: Did you ever get sick of having sex with these beautiful girls?

Lucky: No! It was every boys fantasy! To be filmed ejaculating with beautiful girls, and getting paid for it! In the scene with Signe Berger and Henrietta Kelogg, it was Henrietta who swallowed my load exactly as Anneka did.

CS: But her scenes never made it into the movie?

Lucky: No, unfortunatly it ended up on the cutting room floor.

CS: Or in somebodies home movie collection?

Lucky: You never know!

CS: How were things left after the filming was finished?

Lucky: As far as the girlies from Penthouse, once the filming was done, so was the contact. I also remember Anneka being much older than me. (About 7 years) I kept in contact with the two female extras that I had met, for about a year afterwards. They were students too. I stayed in touch with the bloke who played a soldier too. I was actually glad to be getting done with it!
CS: Offhand, was there a lot of people involved in the making of the movie?

Lucky: Hmmm...there must have been almost a thousand young people and youngish people involved in the auditions alone. Not to mention the film crew, caterers, the famous actors, thier agents, and so on and so on. Many many people.

CS: Did Piernico Solinas try to contact you for when he wrote his book, "The Ultimate Porno: The Making of a Sex Collosal"?

Lucky: Not that I am aware of. But I left Rome when I was 20, and went to University abroad, so I may have been hard to track down!

CS: What was your impression of Bob Guccione?

Lucky: I found him to be a very 'take charge' kind of guy. Very organized.

CS: What was your fee for appearing in the movie?

Lucky: That remains private! But I will say it was US Cash, and it was much more than a waiter was used to getting!

CS: It's interesting to note that many of the people who starred in the film turned thier back on it because it did not make them International Stars. Anneka Di Lorenzo said it ruined her movie hopes!

Lucky: I think the big problem was that it took so long to come out, and people's careers' took a turn in the mean time. I gave up that the movie would ever be shown, and was surprised when I got the word that it was finally being shown.

CS: And you saw it then for the first time?

Lucky: Yes. the first time I saw the finished film was at Cannes in the middle of May, 1979. I was on holiday from University. My mail had been forwarded to me, and there was a personal invitation for a private screening. So off I went!

CS: And what was your reaction?

Lucky: Shock! When I saw that they used my ejaculation scene as a pivotal scene going from one sequence to another, I couldn't beleive it. I was huge on the screen, and everybody was silent in the theatre. I remember that orgasm being so terribly intense I thought I'd go absolutely bonkers or just die there on the floor cushions! I told the girl that I was dating at the time, that that was me on the screen, and she too went into shock!

CS: How did she handle it after that?

Lucky: She didn't, she was gone after a month. It bothered her that not only did I have paid sex on film, I also has mulitple partners!

CS: A big price to pay for fame?

Lucky: Not really, there were other girls! I was too turned on at the time, realizing that millions of movie-goers were going to see me blow my load. And see Anneka swallow a living part of me! It was very personal and at the same time very passionate! My initial shock turned into a huge turn on!

CS: But your family never knew about you being in the movie?

Lucky: That is right. Mom and Dad continue to have no idea of my involvment in the film. They have heard about the film, but have never seen it.

CS: Thankfully! Any other strange stories?

Lucky: As a matter of fact, yes! I was in Barcelona in 1984, and I was hanging out at a certain club. All of a sudden my ejaculation scene from CALIGULA came up on the wall sized video screen, it just played over and over again, while Frankie Goes To Hollywood pulsated on the sound system. That was surreal! It was quite an experience! I kept it to myself that time!

CS: Probably a good idea! And the next time you veiwed the movie?

Lucky: In September 1999, when Penthouse re-issued it in theatres again. It was then I noticed that the version that was shown originally at Cannes was three and a half hours long, and the version that ended up in the theaters was just over 2 and a half hours. The shorter version was more interesting.

CS: And your thoughts at that viewing?

Lucky: It was still shocking to see my shaft so pronounced, but as I looked around the theatre, all eyes were on the screen!

CS: Thanks for answering all our questions so honestly and thoughtfully!

Lucky: You're welcome.


THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE is one of the best "sword and sandal" historical epics ever made. It has an all-star cast, an intelligent script, fine direction, thrilling action sequences, and it gives a relatively accurate account of history in the late 2nd century.

Wise emperor Marcus Aurelius (Alec Guiness) plans to turn the Roman Empire over to his adopted son Livius (Stephen Boyd). His other son Commodus (Christopher Plummer) has Marcus poisoned, takes over the throne and declares himself a god.

The Roman Empire is threatened by Barbarians and pestilence. Timonides (James Mason) says, "Men of Rome, men of Rome! Do not touch these people, they have become your brothers. They're Roman now. The whole Northern people will answer with fire and blood, their hatred will live for centuries. Men of Roman blood will pay for this. You will make nations to kill us all. Let us live in Peace! Peace!" Then Timonides is killed with a javelin in the chest.

Livius: (standing over body of Timonides) "What happened, gentle Greek? Did you try to tell them there were three possibilities? Did you not know there was a fourth? This!" (picks up and throws javelin away)
Lucilla: "This is the way they answer to reason and now even you must see, this is the only way to answer them."
Livius: "He does not seem dead to me, I can still feel his life, hear his words. Tell me what I must do in his name. March the army into Rome and drown the city in blood!"
Lucilla: (uncovering the Christian cross Timonides wore around his neck) "He was my father's friend and a wise man."
Livius: "I shall go alone into Rome, if I do not return by sunset, let the army enter Rome."

Emperor Commodus' sister Lucilla (Sophia Loren) tries to persuade Livius to intervene, but at first he refuses. Commodus becomes increasingly mad and degenerate. He allows the empire to be ravaged by pestilence and the Barbarians. When he learns that Lucilla has a better claim to the throne, he orders her to be burned at the stake. Livius then slays Commodus.

Victorinus: "We're in command now Livius, the throne is yours."
Senator: "Gaius Mettelus Livius, the people are asking for you."
Livius: "You would not find me very suitable, because my first official act would be to have you all crucified."

This big budget extravaganza has a chariot race, javelin duel, military clashes, and magnificent sets. The Roman Forum set is the largest movie set ever built (1312 feet by 754 feet) and is extremely impressive. James Mason, Omar Sharif, Mel Ferrer and other great stars give outstanding performances.

Sophia Loren was paid $1 million for her work. Unfortunately, the film was a financial failure at the box-office and it almost ruined producer Samuel Bronston. It's sad when ambitious epics such as this and CLEOPATRA lose money.

Also in the cast are: Anthony Quayle (Verulus), John Ireland (Ballomar), Omar Sharif (Sohamus), Mel Ferrer (Cleander), Eric Porter (Julianus), Finlay Currie (Caecina), Andrew Keir (Polybius), Douglas Wilmer (Niger), George Murcell (Victorinus), Norman Wooland (Virgilianus), Michael Gwynn (Cornelius), Virgilio Teixeira (Marcellus), Peter Damon (Claudius), Rafael Luis Calvo (Lentulus), Lena von Martens (Helva), Roland Carey (Barbarian), Gabriella Licudi (Tauna), Robert Rietty (narration), Guy Rolfe (Marius), Friedrich von Ledebur (Barbarian), Margaret Fuller, and others. The screenplay is by Ben Barzman, Basilio Frachina, and Philip Yordan from Harry Whittington's novel. Historian Will Durant advised on period detail and plot. Music is by Dimitri Tiomkin. Anthony Mann and Yakima Canutt directed.

For historical accuracy, I must point out that Marcus Aurelius had two adopted sons: Commodus and Verus. Marcus wanted Commodus to be his successor and proclaimed him joint emperor in 177 AD, eight years after the death of Verus. Marcus Aurelius died of natural causes, whereas Commodus was drugged and strangled at his dinner table by order of his mistress Marcia.

But these few errors in history pale in comparison to the despicable GLADIATOR (2000), which is essentially the same story. GLADIATOR completely re-writes history to the point of fiction. It's infuriating for those of us who have studied Roman history. There are no magnificent sets, only digital approximations. Everything looks digital and phoney. It would not surprise me to learn that the Russel Crowe character was actually computer-generated just like Jar Jar Binks.

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