CineSavant Column

Saturday September 4, 2021



Dependable Gary Teetzel came across this about a week back … some Newly recovered news film of Marilyn Monroe on the Coronado Hotel location for Some Like it Hot back in 1959. The brief footage offers a good selection of shots and angles on Marilyn, the hotel, the crowds, Joe E. Brown, Billy Wilder, plus Jack Lemmon in drag. It’s B&W and silent, and different than the old 8mm color footage seen on Criterion discs.

Thanks to Christopher Rywalt for straightening out the link to the Marilyn Monroe clip!



U.K.’s Arrow Films keeps hitting us with gloriously appointed special Blu-ray editions. This one is for the exotic horror item  Mill of the Stone Women from 1960. The goodies arrayed in the product photo above look like a toy layout from a vintage Spiegels Christmas catalog… even the poster is attractive. Due out November 29, the set includes several regional versions of the film — the original Italian and English export versions, the French version which contains exclusive footage, and the re-cut US version ‘with alternate dubbing, re-ordered scenes and added visual effects.’ We presume that the corresponding languages are all present, presumably with full English subs, which an earlier German disc set lacked. Plus learned input from Kat Ellinger, Tim Lucas, Roberto Curti and Brad Stevens, and interviews with actors Liliana Orfei and Wolfgang Preiss.

Mill of the Stone Women is a medical horror item with a charming period flavor. Its overall tone is that of a regional legend — it begins with a ferryboat scene reminiscent of Dreyer’s Vampyr, substituting a traditional Flemish barge canal. In warm, suffused Eastmancolor the exteriors play out under hazy overcast skies. It comes off like a fairy tale, even with its drugs and semi-repressed hints of nudity. We really like the movie and look forward to seeing it in an improved presentation.



Finally, Gary Teetzel bounces back with another research-related item, a promotional tie-in linking the obscure 1954 Fox comedy The Rocket Man and the Captain Video TV show. Gary recently saw that The Rocket Man was being shown on a cable channel. It’s technically a science fiction film because it’s about an orphan (George ‘Foghorn’ Winslow) who is gifted with a ‘magic ray gun’ by a man from outer space. This is the launching point for basically nothing, as the movie stays firmly in the grip of small-town romantic issues. While on the edge of our seats wondering if frog-voiced Winslow’s previous co-star Charles Coburn will tie the knot with Spring Byington, we also note the welcome presence of sci-fi stars Anne Francis, John Agar and Beverly Garland… all in a movie with minimal sci-fi content. Oh, and we get to see parts of spacesuits from Destination Moon and The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Unlike the ’70s groaner Laserblast, this alien ray gun doesn’t reduce Agar or Garland to a pile of steaming ash. The gun isn’t really used much, and all it does is grant little Winslow’s wishes, like make a fire hydrant burst or a politician tell the truth. The zinger is that the co-credited screenwriter is none other than Lenny Bruce. No hint of the comedian’s personality is present, not even in the ‘making the politician say the truth’ bit.

Gary had some comments of his own, and of course took the subject for a ride:

“Watched The Rocket Man last night. Pretty lame, sort of a prototype ‘Shook-Up Shopping Cart’ movie but without as many zany hijinks as would be featured in those later Disney comedies.

In spite of its weaknesses The Rocket Man has several important lessons to teach kids:
— If a stranger offers you a gun, take it.
— It is okay to cheat at cards, as long as the money goes to a good cause.
— Lying about who you are is a great way to win over girls.
— A stranger may appear in your bedroom in the middle of the night while you are sleeping. This is perfectly fine and nothing to be concerned about.
— Bringing a gun to a political rally and aiming it at the candidate is a Great Idea.

The movie was promoted by having TV’s actual Captain Video — actor Al Hodge — go on tour with a big rocket mockup ()  mounted on a semi-truck trailer. Could the rocket have been the same prop seen in Republic serials, repainted?  Imagine how disappointed kids must have been to go to the movie expecting thrilling outer space adventures — and then having to sit through the geriatric romance between Charles Coburn and Spring Byington.

“You can read details of the promotion at this Film Bulletin exhibitor’s report article,

What the Showmen are Doing! — Merchandising and Exploitation Department.

 Note that on the same page it says that actor Jay Robinson, ‘garbed in royal toga,’ is doing a promotional tour for Demetrius and the Gladiators, including stops at school assemblies and parent-teacher groups. I’d love to think that he actually made these appearances as Caligula, screaming and ranting and hamming it up as he does in the movie. That would make for the greatest school assembly ever:

CHILDREN!  Do you renounce your false god?  My power is as great as ANY god’s — I have the power of life and death over every being in the empire!   Now go forth and bring me THE ROBE!  CLASS DISMISSED!

— Gary”

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson