Monday, June 27, 2011

A tour on interesting DVD releases : Harlequin / Dark Forces

There is a French edition released on 2002-2003 which didn’t contain any special feature, but it came with a magazine (Mad Movies, the title means everything) with a one page article about the film and some details. For instance how did Robert Powell came to star the film? David Hemmings (Senator Nick Rast) was in Australia to make Thirst and when he was approached for the film, the producers asked him if he had an idea on who could play Gregory Wolfe and he replied without hesitation Robert Powell!

The Synapse USA edition 2008 is up to now the best as it contains the Audio commentary with director Simon Wincer and producer Antony I. Ginane in which they mention that Mel Gibson was very interested in playing Gregory Wolfe. There is also a behind the scenes photo gallery, it would be fine if it had been commented as you see many people you suppose are the director and his assistants, but there is no mention. Here are some pics :

The "souvenir" picture, check Robert on the left, dressed in the Harlequin outfit.
You can also notice David Hemmings and Broderick Crawford

The corpse manikin (from the scene that was cut in almost every edition)

Do you feel confortable?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A tour on interesting DVD releases : The Thirty Nine Steps

Another interesting DVD release concerns The Thirty Nince Steps, extremely enjoyable film. I found this edition though I ignore the release date as I haven't found it on Amazon nor other site. I found it on Ebay, and as it was mentioned the "On location with Robert Powell" I felt obliged to buy it. (In addition, Robert's picture on the cover is just adoooorable)
So this DVD contains a featurette “On location with Robert Powell” in which Robert presents some of the filming locations of all the 3 versions of the film. I don’t know when was this made, presumably it was around 1998-2001 as Robert wears a beard and I’ve seen that beard in pictures from that period, specially at the times of the BT Challenge (another subject for a future post). The featurette doesn’t give any interesting information, but Robert looks great and it’s lovely to see him call Hitchcock only “Hitch”.

I leave you with some pics taken from the video :
Robert in the Royal Albert Hall

I loved his face in this one!

At the Palladium Theatre (used in the Hitchock version)

Mhh, and this location was used in which version??? Just kidding

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A tour on interesting DVD releases : Jesus of Nazareth

As a fan I own the same film with Robert Powell in as many editions as there are! The main reason? For some reason there are always alternate versions of his films (I mean watching him 5 minutes more is always welcome!). And also the main reason, sometimes you can find a lot of good and excellent surprises:

USA Artisan edition 2000 : There are no interesting special features, but this is the longest edition ever released in original audio (382 minutes) if you compare it to the UK edition of the same year which lasts 270 minutes!

The 2002 French edition lasts also 382 minutes, but it contains a featurette about the filming locations in which you can see Robert reading the newspaper (his wife Babs can be seen not far from him) and he also appears while Zeffirelli himself is putting some fake blood on his face. There is also an interview with Franco Zeffirelli made for French tv at the time the series were shown. In this interview Zeffirelli said something very interesting for all of us who want to see the complete tv series :
“I made 3 versions of this film : one of 6 hours that was released at the same time in Italy, UK and USA, then a 4:30 version in a 2-part film that was released on cinemas; and finally next year I’ll release in all the other countries a 7:30 hour version with all the scenes I had to cut.”

The series I've recorded from Mexican tv last 6 hours, however I'm sure there are missing scenes on the dvd releases. This will always be a mystery! Did he release the other 7 hour version?
Jesus reading the newspaper!

Zeffirelli's hand putting some fake blood on Robert's beautiful face

Filming the scene with Pilato, check Zeffirelli is placed behind them

Zeffirelli's interview and the promotion of the book of the film

I'll add the video (in French) very soon, I promise it!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The other films he never made

In a previous post I presented Man of the match, which was a project that never came to exist, sadly. Unfortunately for us, many other projects were never made and that’s a big waste as for many of them the plot was interesting and it would have been marvelous to see him in more films (I’ll never get tired of watching him!).
  • The Incidental Rape / The Punctual rape
I found the information of this film in two interviews:
Télérama (French magazine - May 1979):
In this delicious interview, Robert complained that British film industry was slavishly trying to make films exactly as the Americans, and that it was a pity that the Sensibility (with a big S) was disappearing from films. This make me think that he would have loved to make more Romantic films.
I’m going to be a producer, I’ll start to make this fall a film for which I wrote the screenplay: it’s a very Kafka-style story, very dark and very funny, I think. And next year I’ll make an episode about the life of Lord Byron.
In another interview taken from Photoplay (Photoplay, May 1980) he mentioned:
“I set up a development company two years ago in association with two others,”[...] “One of the things they came up with was ‘The Punctual Rape’ by Cambell Black. I’d run out of funds and nobody was jumping over themselves to give us a lot of money, so I said ‘I’ll do it’. I took it away for a couple of months and did the screenplay.
“It’s very inexpensive. It’s either the story of a man who is the victim of a monstrous bureaucratic system, or a normal society that’s harbouring a lunatic. It’s sub-Kafka, very black and very funny. I hope to persuade certain actors to do it for a piece of the action. David Warner read it and liked it. It’s actors of those qualities that I want to go for.”
I don't know why if it was that "inexpensive" the film was never made, at least the screenplay exist, Robert should go for it! I would have loved to see him act again with David Warner, who is an excellent actor too.
  • Gothic / A single summer with LB
His next project to be aborted concerned a very romantic character: Lord Byron and the true story of why the project aborted is exasperating. The plot was about a lakeside holiday shared by Lord Byron, Polidor and Mary Shelley. Robert was going to play Lord Byron and Robert, who is a nice chap, wanted Ken Russell to direct it. BUT at the end, Russell “stole” the screenplay (that was the word Robert used when I asked about this project) and made a terrible and disturbing film : Gothic. OK I’m being harsh, maybe Russell amateurs will like, and personally I don’t like his films, except Mahler which is really one of the best films I’ve ever seen.
In an article from The New York Times (5th April 1987) about Horror films, Diane Ackerman described the film as follows :
This latest Frankenstein movie, opening Friday at Cinema 1, doesn't focus on the monster but on the kinkiness of Mary Godwin (the future Mrs. Shelley) and her friends, Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Dr. Polidori and Claire Clairmont, who vacationed together in 1816 at the spooky castle Villa Diodati, in Switzerland, where they engaged in polyvalent sex and funhouse theatrics involving rats, snakes, leeches, breathless runs through mazes, pools of thick slime, creaking gates, clinging spiderwebs, bottles of biological monstrosities, doors that open and close by themselves, and bouts of lovelorn sadomasochism. ''It is an age of nightmares,'' Byron says. ''Chill my blood!'' In scenes lit like De la Tour paintings, with one main light source - a candle, a fire or light wedging in through an open door - the quintet find opium-induced ways to amuse themselves. The weather is poor, so they pass a little time reading ghost stories, and for sport they all decide to write some themselves. At a later date, Dr. Polidori created an early version of Dracula, but on this lightning-flecked night, amid violence and laudanum, Mary Shelley's ''Frankenstein'' was born.
Ken Russell's Gothic poster
As if this wasn’t enough, the article also mentions: 
The British director has been intrigued by Shelley and Byron's ''haunted summer'' for a decade: ''About 10 years ago, Robert Powell, the actor, approached me with a script covering the same time span and events. But we couldn't raise the money. I think it was a little too poetic and not as scary as it might have been.''
So this corroborates what Robert wanted to make: more romanticism and no stupid and disturbing sex scenes. Eventually, Ken Russell made this film in 1986, and even if Robert was perfect but maybe a bit too old to play Byron, I don’t know if Russell offered him the part, I don’t believe he did it. Instead he chose Gabriel Byrne, excellent actor too with beautiful eyes matching perfectly with his dark hair, but in the film he looked too old to play Byron too. Anyway, I’m sure Robert would have played a gorgeous Byron.
Lord Byron and a young Robert Powell : he would have been perfect
  • Arab
Another lost project was Arab, and it’s such a pity as Robert would have looked sensational dressed like Lawrence of Arabia or Rodolpho Valentino. I found the information in the same interview he did to Woman magazine in which he mentioned Man of the match. His words were:
An enormous project called Arab is almost on the cards. It’s written and directed by an Algerian, Mohammed Lakhdar-Amina, who won the Best director award at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival and whom Robert feels is “touched with genius”.
I would have loved to know what this was about. Sadly I don’t know why this project wasn’t filmed, I forgot to ask him! Maybe I did but the answer would be the same : no money. Why the heck he had so bad luck at this point? Was it because producers wanted him to play eternally Jesus of Nazareth?? Arghh!!
  • Hard Rock
Finally, there was another project which he mentioned in the magazine Films Illustrated from 1979 in  which he talked about a project called “Hard Rock” and described it like: “it’s a film that will flash backwards and forwards in the life of a Frampton-like rock superstar, from the America of today back to the Hamburg of the ‘60s.” But stop salivating, ladies! Robert was only to produce it and don’t star it as he mentioned that he was looking for a singer who could act.
Hum! What a waste of talent and good ideas!
Now that I’m a true fan of cinema, I know this problem of financing still exist, and is even worse! There are a lot of projects, some of them come to exist, but several years later. The problem is that producers are people who make films to make money, they don’t see a film as an artistic work. For some reason, this is not true in France, as many films are made, most of them “artistic” (even if only 5% worth watching). Robert should have come to France and make all the films he wanted to do
Let alone financing, it’s also frustrating to see that many projects come to exist after several years and thus with a different cast.  For instance when you read that Scorsese wanted De Niro to play Amsterdam in Gangs of New York, I’m sure he would have been great, but none could have played Bill the Butcher as good as Daniel Day Lewis. It would be great to make film crossovers: mixing actors from another time to make them act together, I’m sure the technology will let us do this one day. For instance think about Jude the obscure, the series were excellent and Robert was perfect in it. In the remake with Kate Winslet she was a perfect Sue Bridehead. If you reunite both of them as they looked in their respective films but making one single film it would be interesting, but not a good idea as it kills the artistic work. But still think that the crossovers idea is cool!
Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Enzo Plazzotta’s Powellian Art

Enzo Plazzotta (1921-1981) was an Italian sculptor who spent most of his life in England. This artist had the excellent idea of using Robert as a model for some of his sculptures. Why? I don’t know, but I suppose that Robert modeled for the Jesus sculptures and then Plazzotta decided to make a bronze of Robert’s marvelous face. However the dates are not correcto for this theory... I'll find out someday, but that will be the subject of another post!

Jesus Christ mask III Resurrection (1980)
Plazzotta's portrait of Robert Powell (1979)

In the photos above you can see his works inspired in Robert’s face. About the Robert Powell sculpture, 6 pieces were made, one of them is owned by Robert, and 2 are being sold for “only” 6,200£ on this site. I need to win the lottery urgently!!
Beautiful sculpture, but I prefer the real
Some of Plazzotta’s work can be admired in London. I highly recommend you this site ( if you want to know more about this artist.

A cup of tea? Robert and the artist Enzo Plazzotta
 Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

"After 35 years, it's nice to be remembered for anything"

I came accross this wonderful interview Robert did to STV's The Hour (thanks to Sylvie, a fellow fan for the tip).

This interview looks great and speaks about his career and the play Jeffrey Bernard is unwell, which was on tour in Scotland that week.

The remarkable bits concern as usual the eternal question about his performance in Jesus of Nazareth to which Robert said :
"I’m flattered by it. It was kind of annoying, three or four years after I’d done it, the fact that it still was there was a little bit irritating because I’d moved on to other things. But now, hey, after 35 years, it’s nice to be remembered for anything really, isn’t it?”
I found it just delicious!!

Then he also mentioned a visit he made to Cyprus about 5 years ago during Easter and he was surprised people were coming to him. There are also delicious details about filming The Detectives, such as that the camera men had to be covered by blankets so Robert and Jasper wouldn't be disturbed by their laughs. It would be marvelous to have those details on a DVD The Detectives Special Edition commented by Jasper and Robert, what are they waiting for??????

So you can check the interview and a related article on STV's official site, or check it on the link below:

Thanks for reading!