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The Temple Pyramid of Kukulkan … Kings of the Sun … Part 3

2 Jul


Streisand / Somewhere

Kings of the Sun / 1963

Don’t know how they got permission to use the Pyramid of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza
Hope they got a some good gold out of it. But it shouldn’t happen. 

No doubt who the Star was.

In his career George Chakiris did have his moments in the Sun (West Side Story, Diamond Head …)

Shirley Anne Field – beautiful, but not very Mayan.

Brad Dexter? Where have we seen him before?
In The Magnificent Seven (1960) also with Yul Brynner.

In Kings of the Sun, Brad gets a new hat. 

Chichen Itza and the Pyramid of Kukulkan

Before CGI there was people!!!

Those steps are steep and jagged.

Here come the Toltecs.

Storming the Pyramid of Kulkulkan.
A dangerous stunt.

Many of the 91 steps are jagged and uneven – and over 12 inches in height.
The Pyramid of Kukulkan incline is also a steep 45 degree angle.
Combined with heat and/or wind and you can have a real problem here.
And a fall on these steps would not be a happy event.

Don’t know what pyramid this is, but it’s a typical Mayan Pyramid.
Coming down is even more treacherous than going up.
Imagine if this guy had fallen at the top.

Coming down the steps of the Pyramid of Kukulkan.
You can see it’s no joke – even if you’re young.
I have to  think that they stopped people climbing on the Pyramid for 2 reasons:
– It was destroying the Pyramid.
– Safety. People were getting hurt.

So look at this scene!!! This is insane!
I’m guessing they performed this slowly – then sped up the footage for the Movie??
But it doesn’t look like it.

YUL BRYNNER / A Cautionary Tale / Part 2

30 Jun


Love Song / Elton John / 1971

___________________________________________________________________________________________

1971

I smoked for 7 years.
Not moderately. 2 packs a day.
Combined with drinking, LSD, cocaine, hashish, ??? …
I did everything but heroin.
I was a well rounded abuser.
This was my lifestyle.
My drinking alone would have qualified me as a alcoholic.
I was drunk and stoned much of the time. 

Drugs and booze were readily available back then – and cheap.
Cigs cost about 60 cents a pack. 
A case of beer was $2.75.
In the tavern draft beer was 10 cents a glass. 

I could go to the bar with 5 bucks and drink all night. 
And have enough money left to take a cab.

Then I quit it all.
It didn’t mix with a stronger need that I had.
Spirituality.
I was starting a new chapter in my life.

I had run the gauntlet and made it.

Others … ?

It took 6 months to cough the tar out of my lungs.
I never smoked again and I had no inclination
to do any of that other stuff either.
I was done.

But why did I do it?
I don’t know? I just felt I needed to.
I don’t regret it. But I don’t encourage it.
It’s stupid and destructive.
Avoid it.

When I stopped everything I lost most of my friends.
Our relationship revolved around drugs and drinking.
They didn’t want me around if I wasn’t participating.
I felt the same way about them.

Did I dodge the bullet?
I hope so.

I walked away. 

And started a new life.

 

YUL BRYNNER / A Cautionary Tale / Part One

30 Jun

Yul Brynner

“Now that I’m gone, I tell you: Don’t smoke. Whatever you do, just don’t smoke.
If I could take back that smoking, we wouldn’t be talking about any cancer.
I’m convinced of that”

– Yul Brynner

Yul was from the era (not so long ago) when smoking was sophisticated.

 

So sophisticated.

So dead.

 

The Temple Pyramid of Kukulkan … Kings of the Sun … Part 2

26 Jun


epic-jungle-music / the-legend-of-el-dorado / Keepo

Kings of the Sun / 1963

Several Posters – not bad either. 
Notice the Pyramid of Kukulkan at Chichen Itza
in the bottom image of the poster above.

Epic I tell ya!

Part 3 coming …

The Temple Pyramid of Kukulkan … Kings of the Sun … Part 1

25 Jun


Kings of the Sun Soundtrack / Elmer Bernstein

Kings of the Sun / 1963

Yes, there was more than one movie made about the Maya.

In 1963 Kings of the Sun ‘blazed across the screen’.
 In the 60’s they loved these huge Historical Epic style films with hundreds
of Extras fighting in large battle scenes.
Not much CGI in those days. 

Reviews were lukewarm. Yet I wonder if this won’t be one of those movies
that becomes more appreciated over time.

One thing you can say about the existing Studio systems of that era 
is that they found and developed great Stars.

One of those great Stars was Yul Brynner.
Even in a lousy Movie Yul’s charisma dominated the Screen.
And guaranteed Box Office.

Between 1944 and 1976 Yul made about 47 Movies –
many of them were Epic style Action productions.

Just a few of Yul’s Epics.

Looks invincible doesn’t he?
He wasn’t. 
Slain my lung cancer in 1985.
He was 65.

Next: Kings of the Sun / Part 2

Magnificent Sevens … myth, math and aftermath … Part 1

10 Oct

I finally went and saw The Magnificent Seven (2016) the other night.
I had initially said that I wouldn’t judge this movie by the original,
but it raises so many issues surrounding modern Film Making – and Westerns
that I couldn’t resist.

the-magnificent-7-2016“Justice has a number”
M7 (2016) tagline

SIx Shooter Bar

cineplex

mgm-lioncolumbia-logo“Remakes? You probably shouldn’t go there.”
– My Favorite Westerns

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The CWF Film Critique System

Being a Film Critic of no renown, I have deferred my critiquing chores to my unfamous and trusted colleague Cecil W. (Wannabe) FordWannabe is not a respected Film Critic, but to make up for that by his high HO (Highly Opinionated) Rating – especially of himself. This, combined with his unique CWF Critique System (whereby each movie is subjected to Wannabe’s stringent CWF testing criteria) he arrives at a judgment. Maybe.

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Let us proceed.

The Magnificent Seven (2016) Review

by Cecil W(annabe). Ford

the-magnificent-7-2016-banner

 I like to think that NOTHING is impossible.
But my expectations were not high.
Why? Because a Remake of the Magnificent Seven IS pretty well impossible.
Denzel Washington says right there himself at the start of the movie:

Quote:
Denzel Washington
(Sam Chisolm):
“Took a job – looking for a some men to join us.”
Chris Pratt (Josh Farraday):
“Is it difficult?”
Denzel Washington:
“Impossible.”

This is not mere dialogue (quoted from the first movie): It’s Film director and Producer Antoine Fuqua’s open admission that there is no way he could make a movie that will equal the Original Magnificent Seven (1960).
No way.
You have to give him credit for admitting that. He knew it. And there are definite reasons for that knowledge – things that were beyond his control. I’ll get to those …

antoine-fuqua

The real question is: Why? Why make the movie? Why make movie that you know is going to be compared to the incomparable? If you know something is impossible, then Why attempt it?

the-magnificent-7-why

Antoine Fuqua’s last 9 movies have all made money – including M7 2016.
In Film Making that makes him a SuperStar.

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Time for Wannabe’s Test # One:

Test One: The CWF Charismometer
Measuring Star Power / Charisma / Casting

My first Test will employ the trusty CWF Charismometer. This will infallibly measure, Star Power, Charisma, and Casting – vital components in any movie – and the main factors that Fuqua, his Writers, and the Producers … or anybody – could not match from the Original Magnificent Seven.

We’ll start with Yul Brunner and Denzel Washington.

Charismometer says:

the-magnificent-7-2016-denzel-meter

Denzel is a Star. No doubt about it. And a good Actor.
And if he wasn’t in M7 2016, it wouldn’t hardly be worth a sniff.
But compared to Yul Brynner?
Well, it’s a good thing I tested Denzel first, because Yul blew my Charismometer  to smithereens.

the-magnificent-7-2016-yul-meterBOOOM!

This is the first reason  – and likely most important reason – M7 2016 couldn’t match the original.

I will next test the rest …

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Those Thrilling Stars of Yesteryear

Is it just me? or is the Star Power in modern Film not equal to the Star Power of yesteryear – 50’s and 60’s. 70’s???
John Wayne, Cary Grant, Charlton Heston, Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck, James Stewart, Clark Gable, Bogart, Gary Cooper, Spencer Tracy, Fonda, Brando 
I could go on and on and on. And then start on the ladies.
Yes. we certainly have Stars and some very good actors these days … but …

Part 2 … Coming Soon

 

Massive UPDATE: The Magnificent Seven Page …

16 Feb

The Magnificent Seven Official Soundtrack theme … Elmer Bernstein

MFW Banner

Posters

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YUL BRUNNER 2

Yul Brynner / Chris

Yul Brynner official pic magnificent seven

Yul Brynner as Chris

“I’ve been offered a lot for my work, but never everything.”

It’s said that the idea of (“An Americanization of the film, Seven Samurai (1954)”) to The Magnificent Seven, was Yul Brynner’s idea.
In any case, it’s no secret who the Star of this film was: Yul himself. And a magnificent Star he was – surely one of the most charismatic actors in Hollywood history.
The whole success of the film and it’s cast – one the the major Western Classics even carries to this day – where constant rumours or a remake swirl. A remake, which would possibly be an impossible task in it’s challenge to find Stars of the stature or a Yul Brynner – and the rest of the cast. A very daunting task.
Brynner cemented his image as Western Film Star and went on to appear in several spin-offs – none of which were as imposing as Magnificent Seven – yet still worthy of a look due to Brynner’s Star power.
Alas dying far too early at the age of 65 from lung cancer.

Yul Brynner Western Filmography
The Magnificent Seven / 1960
Invitation to a Gunfighter / 1964
Return of the Seven / 1966
Villa Rides / 1968
Adios, Sabata / 1970
Catlow / 1971
Westworld / 1973
_____________________________________________

Steve McQueen / Vin

steve mcqueen 3

“We deal in lead, friend.”

Billed 3rd behind Yul Brynner and Eli Wallach, McQueen’s shameless antics to steal scenes is the stuff of movie legends – as McQueen evidently feared Brynner’s notable charisma would overshadow him – and eventually started a one-upmanship duel between Brynner and McQueen throughout the filming. Steve, of course, eventually went on to become a big Star and success in his own right – and I wonder if they both didn’t share a chuckle about all this later on.
In the long run, it’s interesting that both of these great Stars seemed to pass before their time: McQueen of cancer at age 50 and Brynner of cancer at age 65 – both from smoking.
Tragic, as both would have undoubtedly continued to make good work.

Steve McQueen Western Filmography:
Tales of the Wells Fargo
/ TV Western / 1958 Guest Appearance
Trackdown / TV Western / 1958 Guest Appearance (2)
Wanted: Dead or Alive 
/ TV Western / 1958 Series Star / 1958 – 1961
The Magnificent Seven / Co-Star / 1960
Nevada Smith / Star / 1966
Junior Bonner / Star (Directed by Sam Pekinpah) / 1972
Tom Horn / Star / 1980
___________________________________________

James Coburn / Britt

james coburn

“Nobody throws me my own guns and tells me to ride on. Nobody.”

James Coburn Western Filmography
1959 Ride Lonesome
1959 Face of a Fugitive
1960 The Magnificent Seven
1963 The Man from Galveston
1964 Major Dundee
1967 Waterhole No. 3
1971 Duck, You Sucker! / Renamed A Fistful of Dynamite for U.S. release
1972 A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die / Renamed Massacre At Fort Holman for U.S. release
1973 Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid / Sam Peckinpah
1975 Bite the Bullet
1984 Draw!
1990 Young Guns II
1994 Maverick
1996 Ben Johnson: Third Cowboy on the Right
2000 Texas Rangers

james coburn 2

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_________________________________________________

Charles Bronson / Bernardo

CASTING charles bronson

Bronson seemed (to me) to be a man that had paid his dues (he had) and this seemed to shine through his on-screen persona.

But he had that soft side too – as we see with the kids in The Magnificent Seven. Maybe that comes from his upbringing in a real life family of 14 brothers and sisters.

When we are introduced to Bronson in The Magnificent Seven we encounter him chopping wood. You better believe that no acting was necessary. And he could just as easily have been swinging a pick.

It’s a smart casting trick: choosing people who don’t need to act.

Bronson’s unique looks, however, allowed him to play roles of different cultures and races. Mexicans, Indians … his name in The Magnificent Seven is Bernardo O’Rielly … Italian Irish ?

___________________________________________________________

CHARLES BRONSON /
Charles Dennis Buchinsky

WIKIPEDIA: Bronson was born Charles Dennis Buchinsky in Ehrenfeld in Cambria County in the coal region of the Allegheny Mountains north of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. During the McCarthy hearings, he changed his last name to Bronson, fearing that Buchinsky sounded “too Russian”; the name was taken from Bronson Avenue in Hollywood, where the famous gated entrance to Paramount Pictures is located.

He was one of fifteen children born to a Lithuanian (Lipka Tatar) immigrant father and a Lithuanian-American mother. His father, Walter Bunchinski, who later adjusted his surname to Buchinsky to sound more “American”, hailed from the town of Druskininkai. Bronson’s mother, Mary (née Valinsky), whose parents were from Lithuania, was born in the coal mining town of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. He learned to speak English when he was a teen, before that he spoke Russian and Lithuanian.

Bronson was the first member of his family to graduate from high school. As a young child, Bronson did not initially know how to speak English and only learned the language while in his teens. When Bronson was 10 years old, his father died. Young Charles went to work in the coal mines, first in the mining office and then in the mine itself. He earned $1 for each ton of coal that he mined. He worked in the mine until he entered military service during World War II. His family was so poor that, at one time, he reportedly had to wear his sister’s dress to school because of his lack of clothing.

In 1943, Bronson enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces and served as an aerial gunner in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron, and in 1945 as a Boeing B-29 Superfortress crewman with the 39th Bombardment Group based on Guam. He was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received during his service.”

charles bronson 2

“I admire your notion of fair odds, mister.”
~ Charles Bronson / The Magnificent Seven.

charles bronson 1

charles bronson 3

____________________________________________________

Robert Vaughn / Lee

Yaughn as Lee

ROBERT VAUGHN 2

“Till you lose your nerve. You can feel it. Then you wait … for the bullet in the gun that is faster than you are …”

Lee is probably the most complicated Character of the Seven.

Vaughn’s and (Director) John Stuges’ portrayal of Lee is be-gloved, dapper, dudish, white shirted, articulate gentleman gunsfighter – with a string tie,
who had lost his nerve and his touch.
A washed up gunslinger.

A bit of a tragic figure to be sure … only redeemed moments before his death – a death we sense is somewhat of a relief for him from the torture of the failure that he feels himself to be.
It’s pretty well telegraphed to us from the beginning that Lee will not be one of the Seven who rides off into the sunset.

ROBERT VAUGHN 3

Robert Vaughn Western Filmography
Good Day for a Hanging
 (1958)
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
TV Work:
Gunsmoke (1956) Guest
Frontier (1956) Guest
Tales of Wells Fargo (1957) Guest
The Rifleman (1958) Guest
Law of the Plainsman (1959) Guest
Wichita Town (1959) Guest
Laramie (1960) Guest
The Man from Blackhawk (1960) Guest
Bonanza (1961) Guest
The Blue and the Gray (1982 mini-series)
_______________________________________________________

Horst Buchholz / Chico 

Horst Buchholz

I wonder if people really appreciate the acting of Horst Buchholz in The Magnificent Seven? I doubt it.

Here’s a young German actor who comes over here … and does a Mexican Hat Dance, a mock bullfight, handles the romance, the action, some comic relief, and is also brilliant in the several dramatic scenes including the famous ‘audition scene’ with Yul Brynner. Displaying a breadth and depth of emotion throughout the movie.

Pretty heady stuff.

Brynner and Buchholz

Brynner and Buchholz …. renegotiating

Horst Bucholz bullfighter

el toro !

Horst Bucholz and Rosenda Monteros

Horst Bucholz and Rosenda Monteros

Horst Buchholz 3

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Brad Dexter / Harry Luck

Brad Dexter as Harry Luck
The Magnificent Seven

Brad Dexter 5

The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven - Bronson, Dexter, Vaughn

Bronson, Dexter, Vaughn

Let’s call it Luck … bad luck, because sadly, strangely, unfairly, movies often all boil down to that intangible element called Charisma.
You either got it … or you don’t.

The Magnificent Seven

The proof is in the most famous trivia question of Western Film:
“Who was that Seventh guy anyway?”

Even when people are shown his picture …
most people STILL don’t know his name.

Brad Dexter

Playing Harry Luck.

Brad Dexter 10

Against the other members of the Seven … Brad simply fell into shadow.

Oh, Brad Dexter was cast correctly for his part alight – as the cynical member of the Seven who was ‘just in it for the money’.

But most everyone else in the cast was already an established Star (Brynner, McQueen, Wallach) – or moving swiftly up the ladder toward bright daylight (Bronson, Coburn, Bucholz and Vaughn).
Brad simply fell back – and never quite made it.

Brad Dexter 6

Brad Dexter 8

___________________________________________

Brad Dexter / Veljko Soso
April 9, 1917 – December 11, 2002

Brad Dexter 2

Yet Dexter still had a successful film career that spanned some 50 years and included at least 40 movies.

Luck had nothing to do with it.
________________________________________

Eli Wallach / Calvera

“My first Western was called The Magnificent Seven.”
~ Eli Wallach

eli wallach 5

Eli Herschel Wallach (born December 7, 1915)
Eli Wallach is 97 years old.

In his acting career Wallach appeared in approximately 90 films and 85 Television shows.

“I never dreamed I would do Westerns.”
~ Eli Wallach

Eli Wallach Westerns

The Magnificent Seven (1960)
How the West Was Won (1962)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
Mackenna’s Gold (1969)
Long Live Your Death (1971)
Shoot First… Ask Questions Later (1975)

Wallach says he once received a letter from the Pope who told him that his favorite Wallach Movie was The Magnificent Seven.

eli wallach 1

“As an actor I’ve played more bandits, thieves, killers, warlords, molesters, and Mafiosi than you could shake a stick at.”
~ Eli Wallach

Below is my favorite Wallach scene from the The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

I heard Wallach say that Director Sergio Leone basically gave him free reign to improvise that scene any way he wanted.
Nicely done.

Bandito ?

Amazingly, by today’s standards for Western Badguys, Wallach was a pretty nice chap. In The Good, the Bad and the Ugly he may be Ugly and ornery, but he’s basically comic relief, while Eastwood and Van Cleef handle the drama.

Likewise, in The Magnificent Seven, after Wallach and his gang get the drop the Seven, he merely scolds them … and then lets them go! THEN, he gives them back their guns !!! Nice guy. The Seven promptly ride back and kill all the bandits – including Wallach.

He’s also pretty clean … nice red shirt and vest … no tortilla stains, no spitting, cussing, abusing, raping … a little bit of pillaging … but that’s it.

And those peons … in immaculate white togs.

Fact is, the Mexican government was furious at the way Mexicans were depicted in a previous Western, Vera Cruz (starring Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper) and therefore placed people on the set whose job it was to censor any negative depictions of Mexico or Mexicans.

Funny, but nobody seems to notice this … unless someone points it out.
Sorry.
________________________________________________________________

“I always end up being the evil one, and I wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
~ Eli Wallach

eli wallach 3________________________________________________

Let’s ride !

TM7 Lets ride 2

TM7 Lets ride 3

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