December Movie Highlights at the New Beverly Cinema
With Quentin Tarantino re-opening the New Beverly Cinema as a celluloid-only picture house, we are taking a closer look at some of the great movies he is programming each month. Every town on the planet should have a New Bev, but since it’s really a one of a kind type of place, here’s another way for you to discover the movies and hunt them down so you can program your own movie nights with friends. NOTE: We are not affiliated with the New Beverly Cinema.
Tickle Me (1965, Dir: Norman Taurog)
A lighthearted musical comedy starring The King of Rock N’ Roll as Lonnie Beal, an unemployed rodeo star that takes a job working as a caretaker at the Circle Z ranch, owned by Vera Radord (Julie Adams). Lonnie soon discovers that the Circle Z is actually a health resort for models and actresses and happily finds himself surrounded by a bevy of beautiful, bodacious babes. Meanwhile, one of the girls, Pam Meritt (Jocelyn Lane) is searching for a hidden family treasure said to be in a nearby ghost town. Lonnie follows her and haunted house style hijinks ensue. Featuring some classic Elvis songs that were re-releases since the budget did not allow for new ones.
Shy awkward teen Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is tormented by her religion obsessed mother (Piper Laurie) and her cruel high school classmates. It’s only a matter of time before she strikes back using her newly found telekinetic abilities which suddenly appear after her first menstruation. DePalma’s use of coal black humor mixed with teen angst, utter goofiness and visual stylization is in large part what makes this such an enjoyable movie that stands the test of time. Co-starring Amy Irving, William Katt, Nancy Allen, John Travolta and PJ Soles. Based on the novel by Stephen King.
Taking a cue from the popular Trinity films starring Terence Hill, this comedic spaghetti western stars George Hilton as Hallelujah a sly gunslinger who is hired by a Mexican General to steal a cache of priceless jewels to help purchase weapons for his soldiers. Hallelujah takes on the task but is pursued and disrupted by all kinds of colorful characters along the way. A darkly funny, offbeat action adventure with lots of panache. Co-starring Charles Southwood, Agata Flori, Roberto Camardiel.
Burt Reynolds is Bobby “Gator” McClusky an Arkansas moonshiner whose been put away in the state prison. While in the big house, Gator learns that his younger brother Donny, a college social activist has been murdered by slimy, corrupt police Sheriff J.C. Conners (Ned Beatty). Gator’s seething need for revenge leads him to make a deal with the government to help them take down a illegal liquor ring The Sheriff is secretly benefitting from in return for clemency. A high octane, good ol’ Hixploitation gem that’s got plenty of kick! Co-starring Bo Hopkins, Jennifer Billingsley and Matt Clark.
Burt Reynolds is Joe, a renegade Navajo Indian that is out for revenge after a band of ruthless commancheros massacre his village and scalp the dead. This film was actually supposed to be a star making vehicle for Reynolds as the Dollars films were for Clint Eastwood, but it turned out to be a failure in that respect. While not quite on the level of a Leone film, Corbucci crafted a well made, action packed spaghetti western classic with a knockout score by Ennio Morricone (credited as Leo Nichols). Co-starring Aldo Sambrell, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Tanya Lopert, Fernando Rey.
If you’ve seen the image of a ponytailed Sean Connery wearing the red diaper like costume for this sci-fi film, you may get why it’s now considered such a cult classic. The story is set in the post apocalyptic future of 2293 where the world is split into two groups: The immortal Eternals (an exalted race who live on a beautiful estate called The Vortex) and The Brutals (peasants that work for the Eternals in a wasteland). Connery plays Zed, a Brutal Exterminator (one who is ordered to kill other Brutals by a flying stone head called Zardoz). This is just the beginning of a very strange adventure as Zed enters the Vortex following his execution of Zardoz’s operator. Co-starring Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestleman, John Alderton.
Ramrod (1947, Dir: Andre de Toth)
A noir-esque Western drama starring Joel McCrea as Dave Nash, a rancher who is hired by Connie (Veronica Lake) a woman that has come into possession of land owned by her boyfriend that was run out of town by a powerful cattleman named Ivey (Preston Foster). Dave along with his friend Bill (Don DeFore) is drawn into Connie’s personal vendetta to get back at Ivey for his past dirty deeds. The first of several films directed by de Toth that were based on the stories of Luke Short.
The Groove Tube (1974, Dir: Ken Shapiro)
A 75 minute cult comedy that along with films like Tunnelvision and The Kentucky Fried Movie satirized television, movies and pop culture of the time with various sketches. Starring Ken Shapiro, Chevy Chase and Richard Belzer. TRIVIA: The news desk skit, including the signature line “Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow” was later used by Chase for his iconic Weekend Update spots on Saturday Night Live.
Hollywood or Bust (1956, Dir: Frank Tashlin)
Comedy legends Martin & Lewis star in this rollicking road movie about two men (Lewis is a goofy Hollywood movie fan and Martin is a singer who owes a gambling debt) that win a car and use it to drive out to Hollywood to meet actress Anita Ekberg. Along the way the reluctant pals pick up a dancer (Pat Crowley) and make a stop in Vegas to try to win some dough at the casino. This was Dean and Jerry’s final film together and during the production the two didn’t speak to one another off camera. It was released five months after the pair’s professional relationship had ended.
Five For Hell (1969, Dir: Gianfranco Parolini)
This offbeat Italian spin on The Dirty Dozen (this time only five) is a World War II/Men On A Mission film that features some really wacky soldiers. These guys don’t only use machine guns to get the job done, they employ exploding softballs and trampolines! If you’ve seen any of Parolini’s other work (like Sabata) you’ll notice that he always has some kind of acrobatics in his films. Its interesting to see how other countries like Italy would take American genre films and put their own twist on them. This one will surely provide plenty of fun for Italian exploitation film fanatics! Look out for Klaus Kinski as the German Nazi commander. Hes at his eccentric best here. Starring Gianni Garko, Luciano Rossi and Nick Jordan.
Cameron Mitchell is the steely eyed, gravelly voiced Minnesota Clay, an ailing veteran gunfighter being held at a prison camp. He was put there due to a setup by Fox, the corrupt sheriff of Clay’s hometown. Since that time, Fox has been forcing the townspeople to pay taxes for protection from a bandit named Ortiz. When Clay busts out of the stir he heads to get some revenge but is ensnared in a deadly battle between Ortiz and Fox. Due to Clay’s worsening eyesight his ability to defend himself becomes near impossible and he must depend on extra help to win the day. This film was actually closer to the the traditional westerns that came out before Leone’s groundbreaking hit A Fistful of Dollars which influenced the genre forever after. It remains an exciting and important entry from the early Italian Western era. Co-starring Fernando Sancho, Ethel Rojo, Georges Rivière, Diana Martin.
Scrooge (1970, Dir: Ronald Neame)
Albert Finney gives an amazing performance as the bitter old miser Ebenezer Scrooge (as well as his younger happier self) who is visited by several ghosts on Christmas Eve. A highly entertaining musical version of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol that will have you singing along with joyous delight. This has been one of my favorite holiday movies since I was very young, and so I’d just like to say: “Thank Ya Very Much!”. Co-starring Alec Guinness, Edith Evans, Kenneth More, Michael Medwin, Laurence Naismith.
The Westerner (1940, Dir: William Wyler)
Walter Brennan stars as Judge Roy Bean, the sole law and order in the town of Vinegaroon, Texas circa 1882. A drifter named Cole Harden (Gary Cooper) is brought in to stand trial for stealing the horse of Bean’s friend Chickenfoot. With Bean’s reputation for hangings, Cole uses the judge’s admiration for an actress named Lily Langtry as a way to keep his head out of the noose a bit longer. He explains to Bean that he knows the star and will get a lock of her hair for him. Bean holds off on the death sentence and even takes a bit of a liking to Cole but the lawman’s mistreatmnent of the local homesteaders causes Cole to stand up to him which causes more trouble. Co-starring Doris Davenport, Forrest Tucker, Chill Wills, Lilian Bond and Dana Andrews.
Jimi Plays Berkeley (1971, Dir: Peter Pilafian)
A rarely seen documentary turned midnite movie that showcases an electric performance by the late great rock legend in Berkeley, California in 1970. Songs covered include: Lover Man, Hey Baby, Purple Haze, The Star Spangled Banner and Voodoo Child.
The Deep (1977, Dir: Peter Yates)
Based on the novel by Peter Benchley (Jaws), this thrilling deep sea adventure stars Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bissett as a couple vacationing in Bermuda. While scuba diving the two discover several Spanish artifacts from a 18th century shipwreck including a medallion and decide to seek the advice of a local treasure hunter named Treece (Robert Shaw) about their history. When a local drug kingpin Cloche (Louis Gossett Jr) finds out about the items he uses black magic to disrupt their investigation. Treece makes a deal with Cloche to let them dive in return for some rare morphine from a WWII ship, but is planning to search for Spanish treasure in secret. The Deep was a successful studio film upon release but not close to the blockbuster scale of the previous adaptation of Benchley’s killer shark classic.
An all girls college sorority in Canada is terrorized by a mysterious psycho whose trademark is leaving frightening obscene phonecalls before he kills off the pretty coeds. Directed by Bob Clark (of Porky’s and A Christmas Story fame) this film was one of the main blueprints for the future 80s slasher craze along with early 70s Italian giallo cinema which came before it and Halloween which followed it four years later. Starring Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder, Keir Dullea and John Saxon.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984, Dir: Charles H. Sellier Jr)
A holiday themed slasher about a young boy named Billy who witnesses his parents being murdered by a criminal dressed in a Santa costume and is sent to an orphanage run by sadistic nuns who abuse him. Years later, a teenage Billy mentally snaps and uses the Santa persona, which has haunted him, to bring his own brand of punishment to all the naughty boys and girls that give him grief. One of the most memorable scenes comes early on in the film when Billy’s wacked out Grandpa tells him a terrifying story about Jolly Ol Saint Nick. Starring Lilyan Chauvin, Toni Nero, Britt Leach, Robert Brian Wilson.
More American Graffiti (1979, Dir: Bill L. Norton)
An enjoyable yet often forgotten counter-culture themed sequel to the 1973 smash hit, that rejoins the main characters over a period spanning from 1964-67. Terry the Toad (Charles Martin Smith) is fighting in the Vietnam War while John Milner (Paul LeMat) is a professional hot rod racer and Steve (Ron Howard) and Laurie (Cindy Williams) have gotten married. Meanwhile Toad’s friend Debbie (Candy Clark) has become a hippie up in San Francisco. The film has a very groovy visual aesthetic with its use of 16mm documentary style sequences and Woodstock inspired split screens. Co-starring Mackenzie Phillips, Scott Glenn, Rosanna Arquette with a special cameo by Harrison Ford. Richard Dreyfus was the only main original cast member not to appear. Featuring some more great rock n’ roll from the period.
Rio Bravo (1959, Dir: Howard Hawks)
The story goes that after seeing the Western High Noon (1952) together one day at the movies and disliking it, Director Howard Hawks and his friend John Wayne decided to make a better film that showed the camaraderie between a group of men faced with imposing danger. What Hawks created was Rio Bravo, a highly entertaining genre masterpiece that mixed his trademark humor with themes of honor and loyalty amongst professional lawmen. Rio Bravo starred John Wayne as an upstanding sheriff named John T. Chance…READ OUR FULL REVIEW