Gasp! Choke! SHOCK CINEMA 44 reviewed!

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Just in time for summer vacation, the new issue of Shock Cinema is in the house!

Whitman SandsThe issue’s big, manly interview is with Hollywood veteran Stuart (shirt optional) Whitman, star of such balls-to-the-wall classics as THE DECKS RAN RED (1958), Don Siegel’s HOUND DOG MAN (1959), MURDER, INC. (1960), the daring psychodrama THE MARK (1961), THE COMANCHEROS (1961) with John Wayne, SHOCK TREATMENT (1964), THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES (1965), the incomparable, baboon-studded SANDS OF THE KALAHARI (1965), the hare-raising NIGHT OF THE LEPUS (1972), Hammer’s SHATTER (1974), Tobe Hooper’s EATEN ALIVE (1976), Alberto de Martino’s STRANGE SHADOWS IN AN EMPTY ROOM (aka BLAZING MAGNUM, 1976), and GUYANA: CULT OF THE DAMNED (1979), in which Whitman played an oh so thinly-veiled Reverend Jim Jones. Long out of the limelight (he hasn’t made a film since 2000), Whitman proves himself pleasantly informative about his fifty year career, which began with a bit in the end-of-the-world epic WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE (1951), and bracingly candid about his career highs (Whitman was a last minute replacement in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI for George Peppard, who fled the African location rather than work with untrained primates) and lows (he credits NIGHT OF THE LEPUS with killing his American film career), about his innovative but short-lived TV series CIMARRON STRIP (1967-1968), the troubled productions (MURDER, INC., SHATTER) and all the incredible people he met along the way (Simone Signoret — he tapped that). Anthony Petkovich interviewed Whitman (who turned 85 in February) at his Montecito home and you can almost smell the sea breeze as the two roll back over Whitman’s diverse resume.

KnightShe of the smart side-part, Shirley Knight is interviewed in this issue by Justin Bozung. A native of Kansas (she and her siblings worked as extras on the set of Joshua Logan’s PICNIC), Knight became interested in acting only as a means of opening her up to be a singer and when she traveled 1,600 miles west to the Pasadena Playhouse she only really wanted to see the ocean. Spotted by an agent during scene work in class, Knight was asked to test at MGM and Warner Brothers, both of whom offered her a six-month contract. Intimidated by the suits at Metro, Knight signed with Warners and quickly wound up guesting on such weekly TV series as RAWHIDE, 77 SUNSET STRIP, MAVERICK, and JOHNNY STACCATO with John Cassavetes. She made her feature film debut as a nun in the wartime actioner FIVE GATES TO HELL (1959), written and directed by James Clavell (hot off the success of scripting THE FLY) for 20th Century Fox, but it was for an early role in Delbert Mann’s THE DARK AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS (1960) that put Knight on the map, and got her nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress. The honor was no mean feat, given that Knight’s costars included such former Oscar-nominated actresses as Angela Landsbury, Eve Arden, and Dorothy McGuire, in addition to Robert Preston (who wouldn’t receive his own Academy nod for another 20 years). Lightning struck twice when Knight received another Oscar nomination for her role in SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH (1962), Richard Brooks’ adaptation of the 1959 play by Tennessee Williams. Within just a few years of landing in California, the kid from Kansas had arrived… but studio head Jack Warner decided to put Knight in her place (lest she turn into “another Bette Davis”) by knocking her down to the minors and assigning her a role in the prison potboiler HOUSE OF WOMEN (1962). Ultimately, Knight persevered (and did a lot of television, popping up on NAKED CITY, THE VIRGINIAN, THE OUTER LIMITS, and ARREST AND TRIAL) and returned to features, where she contributed sensitive, nuanced, and unforgettable performances to THE GROUP (1966), DUTCHMAN (1967) with Al Freeman, Jr. (Burgess Meredith paid for her to have stripping lessons), Richard Lester’s PETULIA (1967), and Francis Ford Coppola’s THE RAIN PEOPLE (1969), costarring with future KILLER ELITE leads Robert Duvall and James Caan. It seems Knight has never been out of work and her chat with Justin Bozung is a master class in weathering a long and successful career in the business. Will any Hollywood actress ever again have a career like this?

MOONSHINE-WARThe new issue also offers interviews with Euro-cult standard Barbara Bouchet (never one of my favorite people but good stories — prior to her return to the Continent in 1970 and career reboot as an Italian movie star, the young starlet delivered Chicken Delight to make ends meet!) and American character actor Jon Polito, who tells a great story about how he shoehorned his way into the Broadway production of AMERICAN BUFFALO as Kenneth McMillan’s (surprising revelation warning — but no spoilers!) understudy and relates anecdotes from his many fine performances for the Coen Brothers. But more than half the fun of tucking into each issue of Shock Cinema is the host of reviews that are jammed between the covers. The syllabus is wide-ranging, from major studio stinkers (MGM’s Elmore Leonard-scripted THE MOONSHINE WAR, with Patrick McGoohan as a revenuer and Alan Alda as a Kentucky moonshiner. No, really.) to low budget exploitation programmers (the obscure biker flick THE BIG SCORE, aka A TON OF GRASS GOES TO POT. With Doodles Weaver. No, really.) to forgotten (and unsold) TV pilots (POWER MAN with Art Hindle; THE NIGHT RIDER with David Selby) to Euro-sleaze (DIRTY WEEKEND with Marcello Mastroianni and Oliver Reed) to regional Christian preaching-to-the-choir fare (TEST OF FAITH – “Imagine FOOTLOOSE, except with mostly first-time actors, a public access-sized budget and, instead of dancing, a strong-willed teenager who fights for his belief in the Bible!”). Where else can you read back-to-back reviews of GOIN’ COCONUTS (1978) starring Donny and Marie Osmond and the Canadian horror porno SPERMULA (1974)? Or of the historical drama ZULU DAWN (1979) and BATH SALT ZOMBIES (2013)? You’re not going to get this kind of service at The House Next Door! Long story short, another fantastic read from editor/publisher Steven Puchalski. Required reading. Hit the newsstands!

22 Responses Gasp! Choke! SHOCK CINEMA 44 reviewed!
Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : June 7, 2013 2:35 pm

Holy chicken mole, Batman! I feel like an idiot but I had no idea that Stuart Whitman was still alive. Love that guy. He was such a gruff growling badass.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : June 7, 2013 2:35 pm

Holy chicken mole, Batman! I feel like an idiot but I had no idea that Stuart Whitman was still alive. Love that guy. He was such a gruff growling badass.

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : June 7, 2013 2:36 pm

Geographically, he’s closer to you than I am!

Posted By Richard Harland Smith : June 7, 2013 2:36 pm

Geographically, he’s closer to you than I am!

Posted By DevlinCarnate : June 7, 2013 3:19 pm

i can believe Night of the Lepus drove Whitman overseas,it has to go down in history as one of the worst premises in cinematic history…killer bunnies?…it’s painful to watch,but it’s good to know he’s alive and kicking

Posted By DevlinCarnate : June 7, 2013 3:19 pm

i can believe Night of the Lepus drove Whitman overseas,it has to go down in history as one of the worst premises in cinematic history…killer bunnies?…it’s painful to watch,but it’s good to know he’s alive and kicking

Posted By Doug : June 7, 2013 4:21 pm

Stuart Whitman-I was trying to remember where I had seen him last-thank God for IMDB-it was the pilot episode for “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
A great show that this post just reminded me of, which is now amazoning my way.
Barbara Bouchet was one of the few dead-on right elements of the original “Casino Royale” (along with the music and Daliah Lavi).

Posted By Doug : June 7, 2013 4:21 pm

Stuart Whitman-I was trying to remember where I had seen him last-thank God for IMDB-it was the pilot episode for “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.
A great show that this post just reminded me of, which is now amazoning my way.
Barbara Bouchet was one of the few dead-on right elements of the original “Casino Royale” (along with the music and Daliah Lavi).

Posted By Marty McKee : June 7, 2013 5:25 pm

Can you imagine a teenage Barbara Bouchet delivering food to your house? Oh boy oh boy oh boy…

Posted By Marty McKee : June 7, 2013 5:25 pm

Can you imagine a teenage Barbara Bouchet delivering food to your house? Oh boy oh boy oh boy…

Posted By Medusa : June 7, 2013 6:21 pm

Clearly a great issue! I’ve been watching “Cimarron Strip” on the Encore Western channel — pretty typical TV western stuff but longer format which is interesting, and good guest stars, of course. Shirley Knight is luminous, such an interesting presence. And Barbara Bouchet — she was snazzy in an original Trek episode and got to kiss Kirk.

How can you go wrong with a group like that! Thanks for the spotlight on the mag and the stars!

Posted By Medusa : June 7, 2013 6:21 pm

Clearly a great issue! I’ve been watching “Cimarron Strip” on the Encore Western channel — pretty typical TV western stuff but longer format which is interesting, and good guest stars, of course. Shirley Knight is luminous, such an interesting presence. And Barbara Bouchet — she was snazzy in an original Trek episode and got to kiss Kirk.

How can you go wrong with a group like that! Thanks for the spotlight on the mag and the stars!

Posted By jim` : June 8, 2013 3:34 am

RHS, thanks for introducing me to this magazine. I LOVE it! Got mine yesterday and can’t wait to read it myself.

Posted By jim` : June 8, 2013 3:34 am

RHS, thanks for introducing me to this magazine. I LOVE it! Got mine yesterday and can’t wait to read it myself.

Posted By tdraicer : June 10, 2013 1:27 am

I’m a big fan of Zulu Dawn so I’d want to read the issue for that alone.

And Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying machines still holds up well.

Posted By tdraicer : June 10, 2013 1:27 am

I’m a big fan of Zulu Dawn so I’d want to read the issue for that alone.

And Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying machines still holds up well.

Posted By swac44 : June 10, 2013 9:33 am

Just watched The Rain People for the first time a month or so ago, really loved Shirley Knight in it. Of course, I’ve seen her in other stuff too, although for the longest time my brain would confuse her and Shirley Booth for some reason. And Stuart Whitman is just one of those guys who brings added value to everything he’s in, even when the other elements of the film aren’t up to snuff. I wish there were more “ol’ reliables” like that around today.

Posted By swac44 : June 10, 2013 9:33 am

Just watched The Rain People for the first time a month or so ago, really loved Shirley Knight in it. Of course, I’ve seen her in other stuff too, although for the longest time my brain would confuse her and Shirley Booth for some reason. And Stuart Whitman is just one of those guys who brings added value to everything he’s in, even when the other elements of the film aren’t up to snuff. I wish there were more “ol’ reliables” like that around today.

Posted By Brent : June 10, 2013 12:25 pm

Am I the only guy who LIKES the Moonshine War? Alan Alda did a bunch of weirdo roles at that time (check him out as a right-wing crazy in To Kill A Clown!), and he’s actually believable in his hillbilly accent (“you can’t shoot us all before we get to you… Betcha a dolla’ I kin, hee,hee!”). Plus Patrick McGoohan gets a cool hat, Will Geer basically plays himself, and the Five Man Electrical Band (from my hometown) sings the honky-tonk classic “Moonshine, Tennessee Wine”. Good times on Saturday night (byob).

Posted By Brent : June 10, 2013 12:25 pm

Am I the only guy who LIKES the Moonshine War? Alan Alda did a bunch of weirdo roles at that time (check him out as a right-wing crazy in To Kill A Clown!), and he’s actually believable in his hillbilly accent (“you can’t shoot us all before we get to you… Betcha a dolla’ I kin, hee,hee!”). Plus Patrick McGoohan gets a cool hat, Will Geer basically plays himself, and the Five Man Electrical Band (from my hometown) sings the honky-tonk classic “Moonshine, Tennessee Wine”. Good times on Saturday night (byob).

Posted By Justin : June 10, 2013 2:10 pm

Thanks for the nice mention of my interview with Shirley Knight Richard. PETULIA came out in June of 1968 I believe, and not in 1967 though.

Posted By Justin : June 10, 2013 2:10 pm

Thanks for the nice mention of my interview with Shirley Knight Richard. PETULIA came out in June of 1968 I believe, and not in 1967 though.

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