September 24, 2011


Woody Allen transitioned as a gag-writer and stand-up comedian to become a prolific filmmaker with unprecedented freedom to write and direct his own projects. With a new movie out almost every year since 1965, Allen's body of work carries a unique voice that channels his interests in philosophy, music, and culture. Woody Allen directed his first feature film during the great spy boom when he re-mixed two Japanese films into a hilarious espionage yarn about egg salad, What's Up Tiger Lilly?, released in November 1966. In this clip, director John Badham (Dracula, Saturday Night Fever), talks about how the studio struggled to define the movie- as evidence in their chock-a-block "trailer from hell":

Woody Allen rode the spy wave into his next project,
Casino Royale. Truly a kitchen-sink movie with multiple writers and directors, the film does have its moments. The costumes included female guards with machine guns in Paco Rabanne-like gladiatorial garb, and the colorful space-age sets made it to some of the top-five spy sets in Spy Vibe's guest set event. Peter Sellers and Ursula Andress share an iconic scene to the tune, The Look of Love. Woody Allen played Jimmy Bond, the megalomaniac nephew of James Bond, with his characteristic slant on the quintessential baddie (dressed in Nehru jacket, of course!). In this clip, James Bond (David Niven) talks about his sex-crazed namesake on TV and introduces his nephew as a rather disappointing secret agent.

Woody Allen then made a mockumentary, Take the Money and Run (1969), about a criminal with great ambition (but zero talent). I can't imagine our current culture of parody without this seminal work. Allen returned to this form in his fantastic story of a human chameleon, Zelig, in 1983. In this classic scene, the main character's attempts to rob a bank are severely challenged by poor penmanship. (Check out the new reality show by fellow C.O.B.R.A.S. writer, Paul Bishop, Take the Money and Run here).

Crime and morality have continued to appear as themes in his films over the years, and these early comedies from the spy-boom era should appeal to Spy Vibers. I showed What's Up Tiger Lilly? to my high school students a year ago and they are still laughing about some of the scenes and dialog. If you are interested in learning more about Woody Allen, I suggest these excellent books: Woody Allen On Woody Allen by Stig Bjorkman, Conversations With Woody Allen by Eric Lax, Woody Allen Interviews by Robert Kapsis. This year's Midnight in Paris has been Allen's greatest box office success. If you haven't checked in with his movies recently, I recommend a double feature of Midnight in Paris (2011) and Scoop (2006). Allen is famous for his use of magic realism, and these two contemporary films are absolutely charming.

September 23, 2011


Breaking news: Guernsey's has cancelled the bulk of a major Beatles auction that was scheduled for tomorrow. Astrid Kirchherr's photographs of the band's early years in Germany, as well as the intellectual property rights to the images, were originally planned to go on sale in a historic auction Saturday. But at the last hour, the company posted an announcement on their website stating that the entire lot has been sold in advance to an undisclosed buyer.

There is much speculation about the identity of the buyer. Many fans wonder if Paul McCartney has stepped in to preserve and manage the archives. Spy Vibe will update readers as soon as there is more information. In the meantime, the auction will continue tomorrow with many Beatles and other music-related treasures. One of the most notable items is Elvis Presley's first guitar!

Some Spy Vibers have been able to purchase Kirchherr signed photographs through Snap Galleries. They have a few Hamburg-era images listed in a current auction. Now that Kirchherr's archives have moved ownership, signed photos will certainly become quite collectible. I have a number of signed Beatles (and Spy TV/movie) items in my collection that I might list for auction in the future. Stay tuned!

September 21, 2011


Sony has launched the Miles Davis Bootleg Series with Miles Davis Quintet Live in Europe 1967. The box set includes 3 CDs of these groundbreaking performances, as well as a DVD of all of the known film footage of the shows.

From Amazon: In the 1960s Miles Davis toured Europe several times with some of the greatest bands he ever led. As the first title in a projected series of boxed sets Sony/Legacy introduces MILES DAVIS QUINTET - Live In Europe 1967 - The Bootleg Series Vol.1 featuring Miles Davis Second Great Quintet featuring WAYNE SHORTER, HERBIE HANCOCK, RON CARTER and TONY WILLIAMS -- arguably the single greatest small group ensemble in jazz history.

The recordings from their 1967 European tour are some of the only existing documentation of the band performing compositions from the extraordinary series of studio albums they made between 1965-1967 -- E.S.P., Miles Smiles, Sorcerer and Nefertiti. Now fans can hear live versions of Agitation (from E.S.P.), Footprints" and "Gingerbread Boy ( from Miles Smiles), Masquelero" (from Sorcerer ) and Riot" (from Nefertiti); PLUS, Miles revisits some of the earlier classics he had been performing for years -- Round Midnight , On Green Dolphin Street , I Fall In Love Too Easily and No Blues -- all in strikingly different interpretations from the original studio versions. Seeing this band in action only further emphasizes their near supernatural rapport!

DVD Track listing:1. Agitation, 2. Footprints, 3. I Fall In Love Too Easily, 4. Walkin, 5. Gingerbread Boy, 6. The Theme, 7. Agitation, 8. Footprints
9. Round Midnight, 10. Gingerbread Boy, 11. The Theme

September 20, 2011


The Blu-ray website posted a review today of the new release of The 10th Victim (1965). A mostly-positive response with the added bonus of some of their fantastic screen-shots. Here are Ursula, Marcello, and Elsa in three memorable scenes from the film. I always loved the shot of Marcello's apartment decorated with pop art and a display rack of classic Phantom and other comic books- a great pad! How would you decorate your fantasy lair? What would be on your display rack?

Don't forget to enter to win a Blu-ray edition of the Elio Petri cult classic, The 10th Victim (1965), starring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress. Contest ends October 4th. Details here.


Looking for an Eero Saarinen, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, or Harry Bertoia piece for your secret lair? Design Within Reach has just opened their pre-sale list of many cool items from Knoll, including the Barcelona Chair below- designed in 1929 and winner of the Museum of Modern Art Award in 1977. Image from MOMA. Sale details here.

Don't forget to enter to win a Blu-ray edition of the Elio Petri cult classic, The 10th Victim (1965), starring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress. Contest ends October 4th. Details here.

September 19, 2011


The Criterion Collection has announced their upcoming Blu-ray titles for December. In addition to a vintage Hitchcock film, The Lady Vanishes, Spy Vibers can look forward to two 1960s cult classics by Seijun Suzuki!

From Criterion: Tokyo Drifter (1966): In this jazzy gangster film, reformed killer Phoenix Tetsu’s attempt to go straight is squashed when his former cohorts call him back to Tokyo to help battle a rival gang. This onslaught of stylized violence and trippy colors got director Seijun Suzuki in trouble with Nikkatsu studio heads, who were put off by his anything-goes, in-your-face aesthetic, equal parts Russ Meyer, Samuel Fuller, and Nagisa Oshima. Tokyo Drifter is a delirious highlight of the brilliantly excessive Japanese cinema of the sixties.

From Criterion:
Branded To Kill (1967): When Japanese New Wave bad boy Seijun Suzuki delivered this brutal, hilarious, and visually inspired masterpiece to the executives at his studio, he was promptly fired. Branded to Kill tells the ecstatically bent story of a yakuza assassin (chipmunk-cheeked superstar Joe Shishido) with a fetish for sniffing boiled rice who botches a job and ends up a target himself. This is Suzuki at his most extreme—the flabbergasting pinnacle of his sixties pop-art aesthetic.

Don't forget to enter to win a Blu-ray edition of the Elio Petri cult classic, The 10th Victim (1965), starring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress. Contest ends October 4th. Details here.

September 12, 2011


Spy Vibe release party! I was fortunate to contribute to the new Blu-ray edition of one of my all-time fave films, Elio Petri's The 10th Victim (1965), starring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress. The Blu-ray from Blue Underground will be released tomorrow, and I have four copies to give away to Spy Vibe readers! I have to say, this edition looks very cool. After seeing the menu ported over the last couple of DVD editions, it is refreshing to see the film get a whole new package. The new menu is a celebration of the film's Masoch Club, the famous scene where Andress dispatches her prey with her gun-bra silver bikini. The folks at Blue Underground picked lots of great scenes to run during menu selection. There are many special features, including my collection of stills and posters. The inside of the case sports a French lobby card that really highlights the film's costume design. I think you all will enjoy it! I'm very happy to see the film preserved with style.

OK, the contest: Send an e-mail to jason[at] with "10th Victim" in the subject line and include your address. I will pick 4 winners in a random drawing on October 4th. And for my recent poster contest winners, thank you for your patience. I've finally finished my move to the new pad and can ship your posters at last.

Thank you, Spy Vibers, and good luck!

September 3, 2011


Blue Underground has moved the release date of The 10th Victim (1965) Blu-ray edition to September 13th due to manufacturing needs. Spy Vibe will have copies to giveaway soon- stay tuned!