Where Are They? American Hot Wax

An occasional series on missing films. They are rarely, if ever, shown on TV and have never been released on video in any form. If anyone has any knowledge where these films have been shown, TV, a film festival or in a basement in your house please let me know.

Released in 1978 “American Hot Wax” has never seen the light of day on home video in any format. Based on the life of Alan Freed who started as a DJ in Cleveland and eventually moved to New York.

Tim McIntire’s portrayal of Freed is arguably the best performance of his career. McIntire would ironically die at almost the same age as Freed in 1986.

Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frankie Ford and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins perform and portray themselves.

The film also stars Lorraine Newman, Fran Drescher and Jay Leno.

Kenny Vance, original member of Jay and the Americans also appears with The Brooklyn Dreams as  The Planotones,  a fictional group. Later on Kenny Vance would use The Plantones name to perform and is still doing live shows as Kenny Vance and The Planotones.

Freed did appear in some early rock and roll films as himself.

Rock Around the Clock

Go, Johnny, Go

Mister Rock and Roll

Don’t Knock the Rock

Where Are They? Baby Face Nelson (1957)

An occasional series on missing films. They are rarely, if ever, shown on TV and have never been released on video in any form. If anyone has any knowledge where these films have been shown, TV, a film festival or in a basement in your house please let me know.

 

The next film in this series is “Baby Face Nelson” directed by Don Siegel.

 

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Siegel’s other films include the original 1956 verison of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”,  “Coogan’s Bluff”, “Madigan”, “Dirty Harry”, “Two Mules for Sister Sara”, “The Shootist” and many other great films. Mickey Rooney stars in the 1957 film about the violent and uncontrollable Baby Face Nelson, bank robber and killer. His real name was Lester Gillis and he became a member of John Dillinger’s gang participating in numerous crime sprees. After Dillinger’s death outside a movie house, Nelson became Public Enemy Number 1.

 

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The film co-stars Leo Gordon as John Dillinger who starred earlier in another rare Siegel film, “Riot in Cellblock 11.” The film also co-stars Carolyn Jones as Sue, Nelson’s girlfriend.

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In 2006, the Film Forum in New York City had a Don Siegel retrospective and “Baby Face Nelson” was given a rare showing. Elliot Stein in a review of the series in the Village Voice, said, “a ferocious Mickey Rooney gives the finest dramatic performance of his career.”

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 The film received mostly negative reviews when first released (see New York Times review here ) however, since then the film has been praised by many film critics for Rooney’s performance and it violent action scenes. See this short review in the Chicago Reader.

 

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The late 1950’s and early 1960’s saw a rash of low budget gangster films. Along with “Baby Face Nelson”, there was “Al Capone”, “Machine Gun Kelly”,  “The Purple Gang”, “The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond” and “Mad Dog Coll.”

 

 

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In addtion to the Film Forum Don Siegel retrospective, “Baby Face Nelson” has been shown at a few other venues including a 2005 salute to Don Siegel at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The real question is when will this film be released on home video or shown on TCM?

 

In fact, many of Siegel’s film are among the missing, the previously mentioned “Riot in Cell Block 11”, the teenage gang film  “Crime in the Streets” with John Cassavetes, Sal Mineo and Mark Rydell, “The Lineup” with Eli Wallach, which had a rare showing on TCM last year and “Private Hell 36” with Ida Lupino to name a few. 

 

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I saw “Baby Face Nelson” at the time of its original release. We (my father took me) saw it at the Loew’s Commodore on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  The Commodore in the 1960’s would gain legendary status when it became the Fillmore East  rock venue.  

   

Here is a list of the films mentioned in this post that are not available on home video.

 

Crime in the Streets

Riot in Cell Block 11

Private Hell 36

Mad Dog Coll

Al Capone (released on VHS OOP – No DVD release)

The Purple Gang

The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond  (released on VHS OOP – No DVD release)

The Lineup

Machine Gun Kelly (released on VHS OOP – No DVD release)

 

  

OOP VHS can still be found in some video stores and local libraries. Certainly worth checking out.

Where Are They? The Victors (1963)

 “Where Are They?” will be an occasional series on missing films. They are rarely, if ever, shown on TV and have never been released on video in any form. Some films I may have seen years ago and some I have never seen.  If anyone has any knowledge where these films have been shown, TV, a film festival or in a basement in your house please let me know.

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Directed by Carl Forman, “The Victors” is a film that has disappeared off the cinematic map. Unusual film for its time, a serious uncompromising anti-war film that was a big production for Columbia Pictures who had aspirations of Academy Awards for the film. Released during the prestigious Christmas holiday season at almost three hours in length, the film is a grim, epic anti-war drama with an all-star cast.

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The cast includes Vince Edwards, Melina Mercouri, Albert Finny, George Hamilton, Jeanne Moreau, George Peppard, Maurice Ronet, Romy Schnieder, Elke Sommer, Eli Wallach, Peter Fonda and Senta Berger. With this kind of cast it is strange this film has not seem a home video release.

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For Carl Forman this was the only film he ever directed. Better known as a writer (and some time Producer)  of such films as “The Guns of Navarone”,  “High Noon”, “A Hatful of Rain”, “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and “MacKenna’s Gold” among others.  

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Part of the film touches on the true life story of Private Eddie Slovik who was the only American solider executed during World War II.

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There are unofficial copies of this film available on the web. Beware! According to IMDB the film has a running time of 175 minutes. Some copies I have seen for sale are closer to 150 minutes. Then again, since Columbia/Sony is not releasing the film it may be the only version we can see.    

 Attached below are a couple of  interesting articles on the film.

Joe Baltake article on “The Victors”

1963 New York Times Review