Magazine Review
By Ray Young


Va-va-voom! Forgotten Bond girl Margaret (‘Dink’) Nolan from Goldfinger


Cinema Retro
The essential guide to movies of the ‘60s & ‘70s

Edited by Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall

Published by Solo Publishing

PO Box 1570
Christchurch, Dorset
BH23 4XS, England
For more information, go to the Cinema Retro website


cinema_retro_1.jpg    1960’s iconography is a weird anomaly showing absolutely no signs of remission. A politically and racially turbulent decade in America, marked by assassinations, communist anxiety, the war in Vietnam, and heated xenophobia, it was also host to the last ripple of the Baby Boom. While the older members were beginning to stir havoc on college campuses across the country, their younger siblings were still basking in the waning minutes of a post-WWII white, middle-class utopia. Never mind those elementary school lessons in hiding under desks during nuclear attacks; it was the final bow of apple pie, the white picket fence, and plenty of whatever it was that the bland, nouveau bourgeoisie could want.
    Thoughts of the period are always lingering about for those of us who dwell about in pop culture, even contemporary pop culture which is so often stacked against people and occurrences of thirty or forty years ago. How many new musical acts are still held up to The Beatles? How many current film directors are measured beside Alfred Hitchcock? ‘The Sixties,’ as we’ve come to know them, began around 1964 and ended roughly ten years later…from The Beatles to Watergate. Those two hefty milestones surely sum up the amplified positive and negative forces of the decade, Nixon’s yin to John, Paul, George and Ringo’s yang.
    Which brings us to Cinema Retro, a flavorful new magazine put together between England and America, “by two middle aged, heterosexual white guys…reflecting the values of…well, two middle aged heterosexual white guys,” according to editors Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall in issue number two. Distinctly Baby Boomer material all the way, the publication holds an unwavering reverence for ‘60s and ‘70s popcorn cinema, but, perhaps more significantly, revels in its unique brand of enthusiasm.
    Some may scoff at the ostensibly limited range and its bias for male-oriented fare along the lines of James Bond, Sergio Leone, The Great Escape and hubba-hubba cheesecake pinups. But there are a smattering of unexpected and worthy tributes throughout on subjects that one doesn’t normally run across, such as Christopher Frayling’s interview with a garrulous Ken Adam, Gareth Owen’s brief piece on Britain’s Pinewood Studio releases of the late ‘50s, Peter Haigh’s remembrance of Michael Anderson’s The Dam Busters (1955), and perhaps the world’s first treatise on producer Euan Lloyd’s westerns, Shalako (1968), Catlow (1971) and The Man Called Noon (1973).

Above: Michael Winner and Brando between takes on The Nightcomers discussing…lunch? “He took a very long time to get going,” Winner tells Cinema Retro. “Then he suddenly started and it was breathtaking. He was just perfect.”

    Since the keyword here is subjectivity, critical sensibility is lax at best, fawning at worst. Discussing The Nightcomers (1972) with Michael Winner, the director’s fabricated prequel to Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, concerns over plot, budget, and star Marlon Brando’s sundry peculiarities take precedence over any involved or extended thoughts about the film’s aesthetic bearing. “It is shocking, provocative and unapologetic in its politically incorrect content,” Pfeiffer opines with the sweep of a vague weather report. “It may not be for everyone, but it should not be ignored.”
    Of course, one can’t be too critical when chasing rainbows or recovering lost Edens. Not that Cinema Retro discounts ‘art’ entirely—Ingmar Bergman’s Through a Glass Darkly and Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana are floating among the ‘top ten of 1961’ list compiled by staff contributor Raymond Benson—but in this twilight zone of fandom, names like Daliah Lavi and Gian Maria Volonté are formidable heavyweights; a three-volume series of CDs containing the soundtrack music from The Man (and Girl) from U.N.C.L.E. (“blisteringly good material,” says columnist Darren Allison) is tantamount to the Holy Grail.
    The editorial slant successfully denies the esoteric nature of these passions in a celebratory and welcoming effort to share them. Things that were once arcane guilty pleasures have been transformed into myth and birthright. Profiling Roger Moore’s somewhat staid and obscure supernatural movie The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970), author Jaz Wiseman seems a tad overzealous to imagine it as “a tense psychological thriller” that has “grown in stature.” Tim Greaves’s précis of pinup model Margaret Nolan’s lapsed career claims that her “serious break into mainstream cinema arrived with nothing less prestigious than the third…James Bond film, Goldfinger.” Painted gold with images from the picture projected onto her body under the film’s opening and closing credits, Nolan’s ‘dramatic’ role in Goldfinger (1964) doesn’t extend beyond a two-minute stint as the zaftig masseuse named Dink.
    Still, there’s something quite endearing about all of this. Never mind that Cinema Retro is cosmetically helter-skelter (the publication’s layout design is just as fevered as its intentions): one can’t help but be intrigued by Christopher Lee’s reflections on The Three Musketeers (1974) or b-queen Caroline Munro recollecting the hardships of filming the Dr. Phibes movies with Vincent Price. “The most challenging scenes involved lying in the coffin with Vincent,” she reveals. “You see, I’m allergic to feathers and I was attired in this beautiful negligee—but it was covered with feathers! It took a great deal of willpower not to sneeze or sniffle. On occasion, I would simply have to sneeze and this would result in having to do another take.”
    You’ll never find pearls like that in Cineaste or Film Comment.