March 31, 2012

HIGH & LOW

How high/low can you go? A cameraman stoops low to record the sensationally rising hem of these Playboy Jet Bunny mini skirts.


March 28, 2012

AGENT J

One of my students, Our Man Carlos, is working on a new photography series based on music. One of the pieces needed to have a classic crime drama feel, so I posed for him holding one of our movie prop guns. Agent J on a mission!


March 25, 2012

MAN FROM UNCLE COMICS

Open Channel D! Here are some cool foreign editions of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. comic to start your week. Spy Vibers can see more covers at the gallery site here.



March 20, 2012

YELLOW SUB SAILS SEA OF BLU

1968 was an interesting year in entertainment, as storytellers and designers began to assimilate psychedelia into the Mod, mysterious, and madcap forms of the times. The spy genre got a groovy, sci-fi twist in the likes of Danger Diabolik, Barbarella, and The Prisoner. It was also the time for a new Beatles movie, which took the fabs on an animated, psychedelic journey through the imaginary world of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. The feature film, Yellow Submarine, has been a classic ever since, and has often been the gateway experience for young kids to discover The Beatles. Out of print since it's 1999 release on DVD and VHS, The Beatles announced today that Yellow Submarine will be out on Blu-ray and DVD in May. The launch will also include a new release of the excellent songtrack.



Here is the full story from The Beatles website:

Once upon a time…or maybe twice…there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland

London – March 20, 2012 – The Beatles’ classic 1968 animated feature film, Yellow Submarine, has been digitally restored for DVD and Blu-ray release on May 28 (May 29 in North America). The film's songtrack album will be reissued on CD on the same date.

Currently out of print, the film has been restored in 4K digital resolution for the first time by Paul Rutan Jr. and his team of specialists at Triage Motion Picture Services and Eque Inc. Due to the delicate nature of the hand-drawn original artwork, no automated software was used in the digital clean-up of the film’s restored photochemical elements. This was all done by hand, frame by frame.


Bonus features for the Yellow Submarine DVD and Blu-ray include a short making-of documentary titled “Mod Odyssey” (TRT: 7:30), the film’s original theatrical trailer, audio commentary by producer John Coates and art director Heinz Edelmann, several brief interview clips with others involved with the film, storyboard sequences, 29 original pencil drawings and 30 behind-the-scenes photos. Both Digipak packages will include reproductions of animation cels from the film, collectible stickers, and a 16-page booklet with a new essay by Yellow Submarine aficionado John Lasseter (Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios). Lasseter writes in his essay, "As a fan of animation and as a filmmaker, I tip my hat to the artists of Yellow Submarine, whose revolutionary work helped pave the way for the fantastically diverse world of animation that we all enjoy today."

Directed by George Dunning, and written by Lee Minoff, Al Brodax, Jack Mendelsohn and Erich Segal, Yellow Submarine began its voyage to the screen when Brodax, who had previously produced nearly 40 episodes of ABC’s animated Beatles TV series, approached The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein with a unique vision for a full-length animated feature.


Yellow Submarine, based upon a song by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, is a fantastic tale brimming with peace, love, and hope, propelled by Beatles songs, including "Eleanor Rigby," "When I’m Sixty-Four," "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," "All You Need Is Love," and "It’s All Too Much." When the film debuted in 1968, it was instantly recognised as a landmark achievement, revolutionising a genre by integrating the freestyle approach of the era with innovative animation techniques.

Inspired by the generation’s new trends in art, the film resides with the dazzling Pop Art styles of Andy Warhol, Martin Sharp, Alan Aldridge and Peter Blake. With art direction and production design by Heinz Edelmann, Yellow Submarine is a classic of animated cinema, featuring the creative work of animation directors Robert Balser and Jack Stokes with a team of animators and technical artists.


"I thought from the very beginning that the film should be a series of interconnected shorts" remembers Edelmann. "The style should vary every five minutes or so to keep the interest going until the end." These styles included melding live-action photography with animation, 3-dimensional sequences and kaleidoscopic "rotoscoping" where film is traced frame by frame into drawings. The entire process took nearly two years, 14 different scripts, 40 animators and 140 technical artists, ultimately producing a groundbreaking triumph of animation.

On April 24, Candlewick Press will release a new, compact hardcover edition of the Yellow Submarine picture book, a read-aloud journey for the whole family. Featuring the lighthearted wit of the film's script alongside original artwork from the movie that has charmed children and adults through several generations, the beautiful, 40-page book will be sold by retailers everywhere and on the Beatles Store (www.thebeatles.com). An interactive digital version of the book is also available as a free download on Apple's iBookstore for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch at www.iTunes.com/TheBeatles

March 10, 2012

CARTOON PROJECTS

It's been a busy period for me as an artist and writer over the past couple of years. Creating Spy Vibe, working on a new non-fiction book, and composing a song re-mix- then a film- for Yoko Ono have all been fun and rewarding. Although it's been mostly film and writing news lately, I have also been savoring a return to my original love- cartooning! There are a couple of cartoon projects in the works that I look forward to sharing when the time is right. And I have been enjoying getting to know fellow artists in the area and spending time at the Charles Schulz Museum and the Disney Family Museum (both are must-see destinations if you are in the Bay area). Today I had the pleasure of visiting with Charles Schulz's wife, Jeannie Schulz, who gave cartoonist/writer, Brian Fies, and I a tour of Sparky's studio. Sitting at his drawing board, I felt like a pilot given an opportunity to sit in Charles Lindbergh's plane! Thrilling and inspiring. Here I am, the kid in me beaming (thanks to Brian for the photo and Jeannie for the lovely visit). More info over at my website, jasonwhiton.com. Spy Vibers, what were some of your favorite comics growing up?

AVENGERS AD

Although I've posted many vintage advertisements and newsreel footage of The Avengers in the past, I've never come across this Perrier ad from France. In keeping with the tone of the series, there is a wonderful blend of playful action and charm. Though, I am surprised that they had Pat land a direct punch, rather than dispatching the baddie with the cork. The cast and crew of The Avengers celebrated their 50th anniversary last summer.

March 8, 2012

JUDEX POSTER

I am enjoying a passionate reconnection with Feuillade's Judex and Fantomas ever since I saw Hugo and The Artist. If you are riding the same wave, join me in drooling over this neat Yugoslavian poster for the 1963 Judex film by Fanju listed on eBay. What are the disadvantages of living in a glass lair on a hill? Not many, but I wish I had acres of wall-space to exhibit retro posters like this.


March 7, 2012

HOLMES AND JUDEX

It's been a busy time in the Spy Vibe lair. The teaching schedule is more demanding as the end of the school year approaches. In addition to my studio classes in Film, Photo, and Drawing, I have also been teaching fun classes in Beatles history and in low-budget/high-concept movies (which allows for some fun days with the likes of Dr No, Lancelot Link, and Diabolik!). I have also been spending more time with a lifelong passion for cartooning. Although this has left us with less news or features for Spy Vibe lately, it has allowed me to start penciling my first graphic novel! I'm making a transition from strips and single-panel work, so it's pretty fun to have a new challenge.

In the wake of
Hugo and The Artist, which have re-opened a door into the magic of the silent era, I'm enjoying a revisit with old favorites by Feuillade, Melies, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Fritz Lang. I just saw Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr recently on Netflix and really enjoyed it! Like Melies, he used the illusion of linear time that film offers to create some memorable visual gags. I also just saw the John Barrymore Sherlock Holmes film (its restoration was funded by Hef!). Although it dragged a bit in the middle, I have to say that I enjoyed the casting a lot (both Holmes and Moriarty were great!). And the film had enough mystery conventions, like trap doors, signals, and secret hiding places to keep me entertained. Hats off to Kino films for making these classics available.


If you are a fan of the wonderful mystery/adventure serials Fantomas, Judex, and Les Vampires, join me in celebrating the new English translation of this Judex novel from Black Coat Press. Rick Lai has written about The Shadow in the past, so I'm intrigued by the section about The Shadow and Judex listed in the contents. Black Coat has also published many Fantomas titles. I'm looking forward to checking out the whole series and talking with the publisher about some details. I will post my findings on Spy Vibe when I get a chance. In the meantime, here is more info from the publisher's website:

In 1917, silent film director Louis Feuillade and writer Arthur Bernède created the character of a mysterious avenger, wearing a slouch hat and a dark cloak -- Judex! His name means "Judge," and he has sworn to mercilessly punish criminals!

Judex appears and disappears like a living shadow. Trained by the vindictive Woman in Black, he is a master of disguise and an excellent fighter. His loyal followers include a female athlete, a reformed ex-convict and a pack of vicious bloodhounds. Beneath the ruins of a castle is his secret lair, where he interrogates his prisoners through a "television" screen. His nemesis is Favraux, a corrupt banker who has left a trail of ruin and misery in his wake.

In this epic saga, Judex not only challenges Favraux, but also the evil Diana Monti, Favraux's fiancée who is as ruthless and powerful as he is. But as our hero struggles against the villains, he falls in love with Favraux's daughter, the beautiful, innocent Jacqueline...

Contents:
Introduction
JUDEX (1917)

Part One: The Mysterious Shadow
Part Two: The Atonement
Part Three: The Amazing Dogs
Part Four: The Secret of the Tomb
Part Five: The Mill of Misery
Part Six: The Licorice Kid
Part Seven: The Woman in Black
Part Eight. The Caverns of the Chateau Rouge
Part Nine: When the Child Appeared
Part Ten: The Heart of Jacqueline
Part Eleven: The Water-Sprite
Part Twelve: Love's Forgiveness
The Continuity and Chronology of Judex
Judex and The Shadow
A List of Judex Pastiches


Arthur Bernède (1871-1937) was a renowned playwright, journalist, screenwriter and the author of numerous popular novels. His best-remembered creations are the mysterious avenger known as Judex (co-created with, and for, filmmaker Louis Feuillade who directed the first Fantômas serials), and the villainous Belphégor, the so-called "Phantom of the Louvre." In 1919, Bernède joined forces with actor René Navarre, who had played Fantômas in the Feuillade serials, and writer Gaston Leroux, the creator of Rouletabille, to launch the Société des Cinéromans, a production company that would produce films and novels simultaneously.

The absolutely brilliant 1963 version of Judex by Franju, available from Amazon for $8.99!



March 2, 2012

NEW SOUNDTRACKS

Screen Archives Entertainment has announced their new soundtrack releases. With The Ipcress File topping the list for me, there are a number of titles that should appeal to Spy Vibers. From Screen Archives:


The Ipcress File by John Barry

"If you want to see an example of what music does for a movie, go and see 'THE IPCRESS FILE'. Then you'll understand what John Barry's all about." - Michael Caine

CD re-issue of one of John Barry's most memorable film scores from the 1960's composed for the seedy and realistic spy thriller starring Michael Caine as Len Deighton's great anti-hero, Harry Palmer.

For his inspiration for the music John Barry looked to one of his favourite films "THE THIRD MAN" and its famous solo zither score by Anton Karas. With THE IPCRESS FILE he wanted to achieve an equally distinctive, repetitive yet haunting sound. In this he chose the Hungarian cimbalom as his lead instrument for his "Man Alone Theme" backed by an orchestra in a series of swing, jazz and blues variations.

Michael Caine made the first of three appearances as novelist Len Deighton's bespectacled British-spy Harry Palmer in "The Ipcress File". Palmer has no real love of espionage, but he doesn't really know any other life. With studied insolence, he takes on the case of locating missing doctor Radcliffe (Aubrey Richards), who has in his possession a valuable file that would prove injurious to the Free World should it fall in the wrong hands. The government also fears that Radcliffe will be brainwashed by the enemy, as has happened to two previous British scientists. While Palmer is off doing everyone else's dirty work, his superior, Nigel Green, is making a deal with duplicitous information "broker" Frank Gatliff to win Radcliffe's release. The price for this would seem to be Palmer, who is captured by the enemy and subjected to a grueling brainwashing session. Palmer escapes, whereupon he confronts a traitor in his midst in the climactic exchange of gunfire. Advertised as the thinking man's "Goldfinger", "The Ipcress File" offered a far more realistic view of the morally ambivalent world of espionage than did the James Bond films. Also stars Gordon Jackson (Hudson, the butler from "Upstairs, Downstairs"). 1965

The H-Man, Secret of Telegian, The Human Vapor

Three Complete original soundtracks from TOHO's transformed sci-fi horror movie series on triple disc!

BIJO TO EKITAI NINGEN (aka THE H-MAN, BEAUTY AND THE LIQUIEDMAN): When a narcotics deal goes sour and a suspect disappears, leaving only his clothes, Tokyo police question his wife and stake out the nightclub where she works. His disappearance stumps the police - until a young scientist appears who claims that H-Bomb tests in the Pacific, evidenced by a ''ghost ship'' that has turned up in the harbor, have created radioactive creatures - ''H-Men'' - who ooze like slime and dissolve anyone they touch. Director: Ishiro Honda, Stars:Yumi Shirakawa, Kenji Sahara and Akihiko Hirata. Music by Masaru Sato.1958 TOHO.

DENSO NINGEN (aka THE SECRET OF THE TELEGIAN): Detectives must stop a homicidal madman called the ''Telegian'' from his killing rampage, while trying to save the intended victims and solve the mystery of the madman's true intentions and origin. The Telegian uses a mind-transmitting machine to teleport himself to his victims, whom he is out for revenge. Director: Jun Fukuda, Stars:Koji Tsuruta, Akihiko Hirata and Yoshio Tsuchiya. Music by Sei Ikeno. 1960 TOHO.

GASU NINGEN DAI ICHIGO (aka THE HUMAN VAPOR): A librarian is subject to a scientific experiment which goes wrong and transforms him into 'The Human Vapour'. He uses his new ability to rob banks to fund the career of his girlfriend, a beautiful dancer. The Human Vapour is ruthless in his quest for money and kills anyone who stands in his way, especially police. He soon becomes Tokyo's most wanted criminal. Can he be stopped before he kills again? Director: Ishiro Honda, Stars:Tatsuya Mihashi, Kaoru Yachigusa and Yoshio Tsuchiya. Music by Kunio Miyauchi. 1960 TOHO.

Sherlock Series Two by David Arnold

Screen Archives carries the first season soundtrack to this incredible series, as well. See a complete list of their complete Sherlock Holmes-related titles here.


Gungala La Pantera Nuda


The music of "Gungala La Pantera Nuda" uses a wide range of sounds, which makes us to a score rich in musical ideas as well as varied and suggestive. The work is dominated by the beautiful Gungala’s theme that appears over the edition with different arrangements, including superb vocal version, which this edition is included in English and Italian versions. Special importance is the careful orchestration of the string used to accompany the loveliest sublimely Africans music, the lounge themes and the melodic jazz tracks.


The Mechanic by Jerry Fielding

La-La Land Records presents composer Jerry Fielding’s (STRAW DOGS, THE ENFORCER, THE GAUNTLET, SEMI-TOUGH) classic original action score to the legendary 1972 MGM action-thriller THE MECHANIC, starring Charles Bronson and Jan-Michael Vincent and directed by Michael Winner. An atmospheric marvel of sonic textures and experimental approaches, Fielding’s chilling score truly is the stone-cold-heart of this classic hitman/apprentice tale. Aside from perfectly capturing action and suspense, Fielding’s score gives the film a depth and resonance beyond its celluloid. Aside from some audio enhancements, a slightly different track order and new packaging and liner notes, the audio content is the same as the Intrada release, so this re-issue is geared for fans who do not currently own that previous release. Produced by Ford A. Thaxton and mastered by James Nelson, this release features in-depth, exclusive liner notes by film music writer Randall D. Larson. Limited to 1200 units.
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