Elmer Gantry’s Little Sister

Salome Jens (center) plays a mute girl who regains her voice and becomes a faith healer in the 1961 drama, Angel Baby, directed by Paul Wendkos.

After the critical and box office success of Elmer Gantry in 1960, another film, much smaller in scale and budget, came along that mirrored the latter film both thematically and in some of the plot details. It might have been merely a coincidence that Angel Baby (1961) appeared shortly after the release of Elmer Gantry, but it certainly beats the Burt Lancaster Oscar winner when it comes to oddball casting and camp value.   

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The Revolution WILL Be Televised

What would drive a peaceful, non-violent student protester to become a bomb maker in a subversive political organization? What ideology would cause an Ivy League college graduate to sever all contact with their family and friends and go into hiding for years, hunted by the FBI? What convinces someone that the U.S. government is their enemy and to fight them by any means necessary? These are some of the questions which are raised and answered by two fascinating documentaries on the same subject – Sam Green and Bill Siegel’s The Weather Underground (2002), which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, and Emile de Antonio’s infamous Underground (1976).    Continue reading

Remembering Hal Ashby

Mark Harris’s best-seller Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood pointed to 1967 as the year that the studio system crumbled and a new order emerged while Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls profiled the subsequent rise of the young turk directors in the seventies who changed cinematic conventions with their idiosyncratic films. Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Peter Bogdanovich are usually singled out as the prime movers and shakers by film historians of that era while the once high profile Hal Ashby is often underrated and relegated to the sidelines. Hal, Amy Scott’s new documentary on the director, is a welcome homage that attempts to elevate and restore this influential figure to his rightful place in Hollywood history.  Continue reading

The Lost Films of Audio-Brandon

The Sleeping Car MurdersBack in the days before the VHS home video market exploded and Blockbuster became the obiquitous rental store, the 16mm film library was still a viable business in the non-theatrical college and educational markets. The decline would begin in the early eighties and by the end of the decade most 16mm distributors would be out of business. But during the peak years, this film format was affordable and easily accessible to all types of organizations (churches, schools, businesses and prisons) and also individuals who ran private film societies.   Continue reading