Originally airing on November 23, 1966 on ABC Stage 67 and now made available on DVD thanks to Liberation Hall and the UCLA Library Film & Television Archive, Noon Wine was directed and written by Sam Peckinpah.

At the time, the legendary cantankerous director was a Hollywood outcast — I wonder when the time happened when he made anyone like him or was popular with studios — following the troubled Major Dundee and being fired from The Cincinnati Kid.

Producer Daniel Melnick was a big fan of Peckinpah’s television series The Westerner and his movie Ride the High Country. Producer Martin Ransohoff had fired him from that movie for “vulgarizing the picture” and shooting it in black and white. He replaced him with Norman Jewison and Strother Martin was fired at the same time as Peckinpah.

Melnick thought that it was pretty unfair, so he went against a lot of big names and gave Peckinpah complete freedom. The writer of the book it was based on — part of three stories, including “Old Mortality” and “Pale Horse, Pale Rider,” that were in her 1939 Pale Rider, Pale Rider book — Katherine Anne Porter loved what he did with the script.

This was a big hit and saved Peckinpah, leading to his comeback. He was nominated by the Writers Guild for Best Television Adaptation and the Directors Guild of America for Best Television Direction. He did one more TV job — “The Lady Is My Wife” for Bob Hope’s Chrysler Theater — and then wrote Villa Rides and taught a class at UCLA. In 1969, he got to make The Wild Bunch.

Star Jason Robards would keep a personal copy of the film in his private collection, but for half a century, you could only see it at the Library of Congress and the Museum of Broadcasting, I’m so excited that I own this DVD now.

Royal Earle Thompson (Robards) is a dairty farmer in southern Texas, sometime before the 20th century. He talks a great game, but he’s too lazy for farming life. He’s married to Ellie (Olivia de Havilland), who is  sick more often than she’s well, and has two young sons named Arthur (Steve Sanders) and Herbert (Peter Robbins). Basically, it could all fall to bits any second until a quiet stranger named Olaf Helton (Per Oscarsson) comes for a job and a place to live.

Nine years later and the farm is thriving, thanks completely to Helton. Everything is perfect now. Perfect until a bounty hunter named Homer T. Hatch (Theodore Bikel) shows up and claims that Olaf is a mental patient. Thompson has a vision of his farming hand being killed, so he grabs an axe and kills Hatch. Helton runs away as Sheriff Barbee (Ben Johnson) and his deputy (L.Q. Jones) arrive.

Thompson is found not guilty but he may as well have been convicted. Even his own wife fears him and his sons want nothing to do with him. He writes a letter at the close, saying that it was all his fault, not Helton, saying he only wanted to defend his friend.

Peckinpah didn’t think that De Havilland was convincing in the closing moments of the film. He had a plan, however. He asked the cameraman to keep shooting the next scene. After he said cut, he told her that she was a nasty actress. Her reaction is what’s in the film.

In the book, Thompson kills himself with aa shotgun. How amazing is it that we don’t see that in Peckinpah’s film after the excesses that he’d unleash on audiences in a few years?

I loved the Liberation Hall release of this, as it has two versions, one with the original commercials that aired back in 1966. It gave me a time machine feeling and man, this movie is something else, a nuanced take on a story that draws you in and holds you for the entire length of this movie.

You can get this from MVD.

VIDEO ARCHIVES WEEK: The Quiller Memorandum (1966)

VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the May 9, 2023 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

How we see actors based on our own experience with them is strange.

George Segal is, to me, one of the stars of the sitcom Just Shoot Me!

That’s who I see him as. I realize the tremendous blind spot — which I have been filling — I have by skipping so much of his career.

But wow, it’s a leap to experience him playing a secret agent.

Based on the novel The Berlin Memorandum by Elleston Trevor, this film was directed by Michael Anderson (OrcaDoc Savage: The Man of BronzeLogan’s Run) and written by Harold Pinter.

Two agents have already died as they investigate the neo-Nazi group Phoenix — led by Oktober (Max Von Sydow) — in Berlin. Quiller (Segal) is brought in by his handler Pol (Alec Guinness).

It may have a John Barry score, but this isn’t a Eurospy movie. Yes, it’s a spy movie, but so much of it is spent in the coded conversation about cigarettes that feel more like secretive men finding one another in the park than anything resembling James Bond.

What Eurospy element is in this movie? Senta Berger, Quiller’s perhaps enemy and definitely love interest. She was also in Bang! Bang! You’re Dead!, The Poppy Is Also a Flower and The Ambushers.

As for George Sanders being in this film, his role was so small that his co-stars claimed that they never even saw him on the set.

The major difference between this and nearly every other spy movie of its time is that in those movies, you wanted to be an agent. Watching this, it just seems exhausting. In no way do I want to have to endure the life of Quiller.

Way Out (1966/1967)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

The little-seen Way Out is a gem for fans of obscure cinema with quirky histories and happily, it’s way better than it should be. I first saw it as part of a double bill released by Something Weird Video along with the hippie-themed Ghetto Freaks (1970.) 

A cautionary tale about drug use, the film was made by director Irwin S. Yeaworth, Jr. following the sci-fi hits The Blob (1958) and Dinosaurs! (1960.) Right about now you’re probably wondering how in the hell that happened. It turns out Yeaworth was extremely religious in his private life, serving in both presbyterian and non-denominational evangelical ministries with Billy Graham. No doubt, the church funded its production. 

As if that wasn’t weird enough, Way Out is based on a play written by and starring former junkies who turned to religion to replace (ahem…I mean cure) their addictions. That’s right. Not a single actor in this film was an actual actor. And yet, the film boasts exceptionally good acting and ticks all the boxes meeting modern standards for representation. 

Set against the backdrop of the slums of The Bronx in the 1960s, the film tells the stories of young (mostly Hispanic) people, struggling in poverty. The main character Frankie (Franklin Rodriguez) has a strained relationship with his drunk cop dad. Despite the hardship of life in their neighborhood, Frankie meets and falls in love with a lovely, innocent young lady named Anita (Sharyn Jimenez.)

Anita watches as one by one, Frankie and his buds fall into the clutches of addiction and turn to crime to keep from getting dopesick. When Frankie gets arrested, he’s forced to go cold turkey in jail. He comes out clean, having turned to Jesus for a “way out”, but his world is turned upside down when he finds out everything that happened while he was away. His best friend was killed by the police and two other friends are in prison.

 Worst of all, when he visits Anita, he finds a totally different girl from the one he pined for from inside his cell. The pure girl he fell in love with is gone. The new Anita is a trash-talking, world-weary junkie turning tricks to feed her habit. It does not end happily. And yet it does. 

Following the conclusion of the main story, there’s a short epilogue featuring the entire cast marching toward the camera singing a religious hymn in celebration of the fact that they’re all still clean and sober. Is it religious propaganda? You bet it is. Frankie makes the jump from joint to junk ridiculously fast. Its assertion that marijuana is a “gateway drug,” is blatantly incorrect based on modern science, but the film nonetheless paints a grim picture of the ease with which people back then people gained access to heroin. 

The best parts of this movie are the acting and the real-world locations. Not a single person in the film was a professional. These people lived this life for real, living in shabby, sparely furnished rooms, meeting on filthy rooftops to shoot up with shared, dirty homemade needles fashioned from eyedroppers. It’s so realistic that some scenes make other drug films like Sid and Nancy and Trainspotting (1996) look glamorous in comparison. No one in those films ever tried to pour milk down the throat of an OD victim.   

For a night of depression-inducing “entertainment”, Way Out would make an excellent companion piece to other less glamorous New York-centered drug films like Panic in Needle Park (1971) or Requiem for a Dream (2000.) 

Despite its heavy-handed message, it’s a film that makes you root for the principles. Especially knowing they’re baring their souls for us onscreen. When it was over, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to the cast in the years following its completion. Franklin Rodriguez has a few more credits to his name on imdb, but he probably deserved a bigger career. 

APRIL MOVIE THON 2: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)

April 30: How the (Not) West Was Won — A Western not made in America.

My Uncle Bill’s name was Frank, not Bill, but at some time in his teenage years he decided that he wanted to be Bill, after Buffalo Bill, and everyone allowed him to be. So even into his senior years, no one knew his real name. I tell you this to establish his cowboy movie bonafides. He and my father would often quiz each other into the night around a campfire about famous stars and they seemed to agree that Lash LaRue was the best, but then again, Lee Van Cleef was the best bad guy.

We Italians know something of Westerns.

After the success of For a Few Dollars More, United Artists approached the film’s screenwriter, Luciano Vincenzoni, to sign a contract for the rights to this film and the next one. Producer Alberto Grimaldi, director Sergio Leone and he had no plans, but with their blessing, Vincenzoni came up with the idea of three rogues — the Man With No Name (Clint Eastwood), Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez (Eli Wallach) and Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) — seeking hidden gold sometime after the Civil War. They got a bigger budget, Eastwood got $250,000, a Ferrari and a percentage, then the camera rolled.

This would be the last role that Eastwood would do for Leone, who he saw as too much of a perfectionist. Harmonica in Once Upon a Time In the West would go to the man who was originally going to play Angel Eyes, Charles Bronson.

The film begins with Angel Eyes killing men on his way to finding Confederate gold while The Man With No Name and Tuco keep pulling a scam where The Man collects the bounty on Tuco’s head, saves him and then they do it again in a different town. After dealing with Tuco’s constant complaining, he finally strands him in the desert and the “Rat,” as Eastwood’s character describes him, gets his revenge by marching him across the same hot and desolate no man’s land.

The twists and turns of this movie find a man named Bill Carson (Antonio Casale)  burying gold in one grave in a cemetery. Tuco knows the name of the burial ground while The Man knows the grave. $200,000 worth of gold is hidden away, which is a lot of money even today, so you can imagine why everyone is willing to do anything for it.

American audiences were tired of Italian cowboys by this point and who can say why they were so dumb? Roger Ebert realized this and said that he “described a four-star movie, but only gave it three stars, perhaps because it was a Spaghetti Western and so could not be art.”

As bad as Van Cleef seems on screen, he did have some rules about being a good person in his real life. He was supposed to slap around Maria (Rada Rassimov) in one scene and said, “I can’t hit a woman.” Rassimov told him, “Don’t worry. I’m an actress. Even if you slap me for real, it’s no problem”, but that’s a double slapping her. Van Cleef said, “There are very few principles I have in life. One of them is I don’t kick dogs, and the other one is I don’t slap women in movies.”

Even the name of this movie is ironic, used past film and having a meaning in actual life. The Mexican standoff found its way into many movies, particularly the work of Quentin Tarantino, who said that the final scene is his favorite of all time: “During the three-way bullring showdown at the end, the music builds to the giant orchestra crescendo, and when it gets to the first big explosion of the theme there’s a wide shot of the bullring. After you’ve seen all the little shots of the guys getting into position, you suddenly see the whole wideness of the bullring and all the graves around them. It’s my favorite shot in the movie, but I’ll even say it’s my favorite cut in the history of movies.”

APRIL MOVIE THON 2: Kiss Kiss, Kill Kill (1966)

April 16: Shaken, Stirred, Whatever — Write about a Eurospy movie that’s kind of like Bond but not Bond.

Instead of having that who is your favorite Bond discussion, we should all talk about who our favorite remix remake ripoff Bond is or which movie is best. Man, Kiss Kiss, Kill Kill is a pretty good one, even if it has some of the most laddish louts I’ve seen in one of these.

Based on Kommisar X, a popular series of crime novels from Germany, Kommissar X is a private detective and FBI Special Agent named Joe Walker, who is played by Tony Kendall. He’s paired with New York City police captain Tom Rowland is played by Brad Harris).

This is just the first of seven movies in this series of films. In 1966 alone, this movie, Kommissar X – Drei gelbe Katzen (Three Yellow Cats AKA Death is Nimble, Death is Quick) and Kommissar X – In den Klauen des goldenen Drachen (So Darling, So Deadly) all were released, followed by Kommissar X – Drei grüne Hunde (Death Trip AKA Kill Me Gently) in 1967, Kommissar X – Drei blaue Panther (Three Blue Panthers AKA Kill Panther Kill) a year later, Kommissar X – Drei goldene Schlangen (Three Golden Serpents AKA Island of Lost Girls) in 1969 and finally, 1971’s Kommissar X jagt die roten Tiger (FBI: Operation Pakistan AKA Tiger Gang).

The two men meet and come together to figure out why a scientist named Bob Carroll was killed. It. turns out that a rich villain named Oberon (Nikola Popović) who was stealing gold from his partners by irradiating it and having Carroll fix that at the cost of his own life when he became sick.

With a theme song called “I Love You Joe Walker,” you know that he’s going to be one of those spies that swing.

I kind of wonder how every Eurospy villain has an army made up of women with go go boots. And somehow, Joe Walker can turn any of them to his side with just a kiss. One can only imagine if he can do that vertically, what he does when things get horizontal.

Director Gianfranco Parolini went from peplum to westerns to Eurospy with ease, making three of the movies in this series, as well as The Three Fantastic SupermenIf You Meet Sartana…Pray for Your Death, the three Sabata movies, God’s Gun and the fantastic Yeti Giant of the 20th Century. He wrote the script along with Giovanni Simonelli (Jungle RaidersThe Crimes of the Black CatThe Face With Two Left FeetA Cat In the Brain), based on the books by Paul Alfred Müller AKA Bert F. Island.

This movie is a total blast, made in the time when ironic and cynical films did not seem to exist.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Santa’s Christmas Circus (1966)

From 1953 to 1987, Frank Wiziarde played Whizzo the clown on TV stations in Kansas City and Topeka. He and his family had had their own traveling act, the Wiziarde Novelty Circus, so he had some level of big top know-how. None of this comes out in this film, which he directed and by that he set the camera up and just started talking. And talking.

Whizzo may be in the middle of a nervous breakdown during this because he keeps babbling about all of his problems and I know its Christmas but man, the dude just keeps talking about all the things he’s worrying about and then they bring in some kids and he asks where their circus outfits are and then he makes a kid dress like a lion and then he narrates some department store windows, all the while a child is literally dying from a horrific cough.

This is an hour long and even a trip to see Santa can’t save it. It’s mind-destroying in how braying Whizzo is and I wonder who was entertained by this.

According to the Kansas Historical Society, “Whizzo jumped out from behind a curtain, tripped over items scattered around his set and sang the song he composed, “Who’s always smiling, never sad? It’s Whizzo!” Whizzo’s set was always filled with props, most of which he made himself. His suitcase contained a number of amusing tricks. Among the animals on the show was “Hissy the Goose,” who would drop down on Whizzo, give him a bump and fly back up. Whizzo pretended not to know what hit him, only to be bumped repeatedly by “Hissy.” It was up to the kids in the studio audience to explain to Whizzo what had happened.”

This is Whizzo’s sad suitcase.

Kansas City Mayor H. Roe Bartle once said “If kids could vote, Whizzo would be mayor of Kansas City.” I see no better argument for never adjusting the voting age.

You can watch this on Tubi.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: The Trouble with Angels (1966)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to Jennifer Contino for suggesting this.

The Trouble with Angels was based on Jane Trahey’s book Life with Mother Superior, which is the story of her own high school years in a Catholic boarding school. Hayley Mills’ character of Mary Clancy was based on her friend Mary who became Sister John Eudes in real life. It was directed by Ida Lupino, who was mostly working in TV when she wasn’t acting herself.

She said, “… it’s such a nice change – no blood spilled at all, darling.”

Mills was escaping being typecast in Disney roles with this film, playing a rebellious girl while many of the actresses in this would go on to play nuns in other films:

Math teacher Sister Liguori is played by Marge Redmond who would be on The Flying Nun TV show as Sister Jacqueline.

Gym teacher Sister Clarissa is Mary Wickes, who also appears in the sequel Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows and also Sister Mary Lazarus in the Sister Act movies.

Art teacher Sister Elizabeth is Portia Nelson, who had just finished playing Sister Berthe in The Sound of Music.

Mother Superior (Rosalind Russell) is dealing with two rebellious students, Mary Clancy (Mills) and her friend Rachel Devery (June Harding). Yet by the end of the movie, Mary hears the call of being a nun and realizes that living a life of sacrifice is better than one of smoking in the basement.

This movie even finds a role for perhaps the most famous exotic dancer of all time., Gypsy Rose Lee. Russell played her mother in the movie of her life, Gypsy.

Stella Stevens would end up taking over Mills’ role in the sequel.

Producer William Frye had offered Greta Garbo a million dollars to play Mother Superior, but she remained in hiding.

ARROW BOX SET RELEASE: Gothic Fantastico: The Witch (1966)

Damiano Damiani is a name held in high regard if only for one film, the most Italian movie ever made by a major U.S. studio, Amityville II: The Possession. Based on the book Aura by Carlos Fuentes, Damiani wrote the script with Ugo Liberatore.

Sergio Logan (Richard Johnson) is a womanizing cad who notices an old woman (Sarah Ferranti) following him everywhere. When he finally confronts her, she offers him a job: catalogue her vast library of erotica. That seems like the right job, but it gets better when he meets her gorgeous daughter Aura (Rosanna Schiaffino). As you can imagine, the library is filled with occult and sex magic energy. They claim the books are the works of their long-dead master, but the truth is that women can use their wiles to destroy men, especially ones who think they’re the so-called stronger sex.

Sergio is not alone. He also has another librarian, Fabrizio (Gian Maria Volonte), as competition, as well as the remains of the master of the house behind a glass case. It’s funny that this has always been amongst horror films. Sure, it’s in the genre, but it’s also just as much art as it is fright.

Along with a new video introduction by Italian film devotee Mark Thompson Ashworth, a limited edition 80-page book featuring new writing by Roberto Curti, Rob Talbot, Jerome Reuter, Rod Barnett and Kimberly Lindbergs, a fold-out double-sided poster and limited edition packaging with reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch, The Witch has new commentary by author and producer Kat Ellinger, a new video essay by author and academic Miranda Corcoran and a new video interview with author and filmmaker Antonio Tentori.

ARROW BOX SET RELEASE: Gothic Fantastico: The Third Eye (1966)

Mino (Franco Nero) is a wealthy nobleman and oddly enough taxidermist living under the domineering rule of his mother (Olga Solbelli) who decides to escape by marrying his fiancée Laura (Erika Blanc, pretty much the queen of Italian gothic horror). This also upsets his maid Marta (Gioia Pascal), who cuts the brakes on Mino’s car. She dies in a crash yet Mino saves her body, stuffing her and placing her body in his bed. While he’s preoccupied with that, Marta — why is the name Marta or Martha always filled with dread in Italian movies? — shoves his mom down the steps.

In his grief, Mino starts having sex with ladies of the evening in the same bed as his stuffed wife. When these girls find out that they’re part of a necrophilic threeway, he strangles them and Marta puts them in an acid bath. He agrees to marry her and make her a countess, but then Laura’s twin Daniela shows up and ruins her plan. When she tries to kill his love come back from the dead, Mino flips and repeatedly stabs his maid turned wife, then kidnaps Daniela and leads the police on a manhunt.

Italian censors were bewildered by this movie, saying “In addition many scenes of almost full female nudity and excessively graphic intercourses, the film features episodes of necrophilia, close-ups of horrific scenes with blood and brutal violence, presented with real sadism and a protracted insistence which conveys a sense of complacency by part of the makers.”

Imagine how they felt when Joe D’Amato remade it thirteen years later as Buio Omega, a movie that outdoes the depravity of this film on nearly every level.

Directed by Mino Guerrini from a script by Piero Regnoli based on a story by Gilles De Reys, this is one dark movie and you know, I love it. It’s wild to see Nero play such the villain.

Along with a new video introduction by Italian film devotee Mark Thompson Ashworth, a limited edition 80-page book featuring new writing by Roberto Curti, Rob Talbot, Jerome Reuter, Rod Barnett and Kimberly Lindbergs, a fold-out double-sided poster and limited edition packaging with reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch, The Third Eye also has new commentary by author and critic Rachael Nisbet, a new video essay by author and filmmaker Lindsay Hallam and a newly edited video interview with actress Erika Blanc.

You can get this set from MVD.

CANNON MONTH 2: Knives of the Avenger (1966)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was first on the site on December 5, 2020Knives of the Avenger was obviously not produced by Cannon, but they did release it in Germany on the Cannon/VMP label in 1985. 

You can’t really judge Mario Bava’s work on this film, as he entered a troubled production and rewrote and reshot it in just six days.

After the apparent death of her husband King Arald (Giacomo Rossi Stuart, Crimes of the Black Cat, here called Frank Stewart), Karin (Elissa Pichelli, using the Americanized name Lisa Wagner) has run from the murderous Hagen (Fausto Tozzi, billed as Frank Ross). Now, Rurik, a knife-throwing stranger (Cameron Mitchell, using the name…well…Cameron Mitchell) has rode into town like a Roman Shane and is defending her and her son Moki. Of course, Moki may also have been his son and he could very well have aassaultedKarin in the past, but I guess him learning how to throw knives — and aiming them at the right people — is some kind of redemption?

This is much closer to a western than a peblum, but when you think that Bava pretty much fixed this movie — or at least got it done — in less than a week, you have to admire his talent. That said, this is not one of his best.

This played on double bills with Gamera the Invincible, which seems like a pairing I’d never put together.