The Unknown Man of Shandigor

Daniel Emilfork plays nuclear scientist Herbert Von Krantz, creator of a device that can neutralize atomic bombs in the 1967 espionage farce THE UNKNOWN MAN OF SHANDIGOR.

Swiss filmmaker Jean-Louis Roy only made two feature films and two made-for-TV movies during his lifetime but, on the basis of his debut feature L’inconnu de Shandigor (English title: The Unknown Man of Shandigor, 1967), he should be famous among cinephiles. The reason you probably haven’t heard of him is because The Unknown Man of Shandigor vanished after its premiere at Cannes in 1967 and never received a theatrical release in the U.S. Only in the past few years has the film resurfaced as a DVD-R from Sinister Cinema and most of those who have seen it have been delighted and amazed by this pop-art curio from the sixties.

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Love Hurts

Joan Crawford and Cliff Robertson have a traumatic love affair in Autumn Leaves (1956).

Joan Crawford and Cliff Robertson have a traumatic love affair in Autumn Leaves (1956).

In 1956 directed Robert Aldrich surprised everyone by trying his hand at a “woman’s picture,” a melodramatic soap opera that on the surface appeared to be a complete departure from his previous work which included two westerns (Apache, Vera Cruz), a film noir (Kiss Me Deadly) and a drama (The Big Knife), whose emotional volatility equals the physical violence in the three preceding films.  Continue reading

Desert Rats

Nigel Davenport (left ) & Michael Caine in PLAY DIRTY (1969)

Nigel Davenport (left ) & Michael Caine in PLAY DIRTY (1969)

Underrated by critics and ignored by audiences upon its initial release in 1969, Play Dirty, directed by Andre de Toth, has slowly but surely acquired an appreciative fan base over the years thanks to high profile advocates of the film like Martin Scorsese who included it on a long list of guilty pleasures for the May-June 1998 issue of Film Comment. Unfortunately, this World War II drama starring Michael Caine had the misfortune to follow in the wake of Robert Aldrich’s box-office hit, The Dirty Dozen (1967), to which it was often unfairly compared. But, outside of a similar assemble-the-team concept which sends a group of criminals on a suicide mission, the film has very little in common with Aldrich’s blockbuster and there is absolutely no reason to feel any guilt over liking it either.  Continue reading