Nukso Nang Nukso (1960)

July 31, 2008

Story and Screenplay by Virgilio ‘Beer’ Flores, based on the radio program ‘Sebya, Mahal Kita’
Directed by Fred Daluz




Mariano Contreras & Ben Cosca aka Pugo & Bentot
Mariano Contreras & Ben Cosca aka Pugo & Bentot

The series of successful comedy films starring the incomparable Pugo and Togo team came to an abrupt end in 1952 with the sudden death of Togo. Without Togo, Pugo’s career entered a sort of limbo. He continued to appear in movies, kept his bald look, but without Togo, his comedy seemed forced, his roles relegated to playing sidekicks to big stars like Nestor de Villa, or father to rising young ‘upstarts’ like Lou Salvador Jr and Luz Valdez.

Television was still in its infancy, but radio was as popular as ever and in the latter part of the 50s, soap operas and radio sitcoms enjoyed unprecedented nationwide appeal. One of the most popular radio sitcoms was Sebya, Mahal Kita, which not only helped give Pugo’s career a new boost, but introduced or re-introduced future film and television stars like singer-comedian Sylvia la Torre, Eddie San Jose, Rosa Aguirre, and Ben Cos ca, who later became famous as Bentot.

The studio made a film version of Sebya, Mahal Kita (1957) but turned it into a Nida/ Nestor starrer, with Pugo and Bentot given supporting roles. Audiences did not appreciate the reformatted version of their favorite radio show.

Quickly recovering from its bad judgment, the studio used the original radio cast in the movie, My Little Kuwan (1958). It was a resounding success and the same cast appeared in film after film depicting the hilarious misadventures of the Biscocho and Batekabesa families.

In Nukso nang Nukso, Pugo is Mang Nano Batekabesa, the wily but lovable ‘manggagantso’ who concocts the most ingenuous scams to finance his little vices, like jueteng or cockfighting. Bentot is Bitoy, his overgrown child who unwittingly exposes the scams, perenially getting his father into trouble with Aling Rosa (Rosa Aguirre). Sylvia La Torre is Mang Nano’s daughter, Sebya, whose trademark is her fine singing voice and habitual use of cliche English expressions. Eddie San Jose is Aling Ro sa’s dim-witted son Eddie Biscocho, married to Sebya, a fact Mang Nano never fails to exploit in perpetrating his scams.

Nukso nang Nukso (1960), the second to the last of the series that the studio produced, is best described as a series of comic situations, with hardly any narrative thread, only held together by the the film’s mainstays, the families of Mang Nano and Aling Rosa, and the presence of occasional guest stars – equally famous radio personalities like Dely Magpayo, and Ric Tierro.







Romeo and Juliet

July 21, 2008

Romeo and Juliet
Genre: Drama, Romance
Duration: 2 hr. 18 min.
Starring: Leonard Whiting, Michael York, Milo O’Shea, Olivia Hussey, Paul Hardwicke,
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Producer: Anthony Havelock-Allan, John Brabourne
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: October 8, 1968
Writer: Franco Brusati, Franco Zeffirelli, Maestro D’Amico, William Shakespeare

Italian director Franco Zeffirelli stunned the screen world when he cast two young unknowns to portray the star-crossed lovers in Romeo & Juliet, but it was a gamble that resulted in one of the most popular motion pictures of all time, winning international acclaim and four Academy Award. nominations. Shakespeare’s classic romance comes to stunning visual life in a refreshingly modern interpretation, bringing new vitality and insight to the most enduring love story ever written. 


a movie review by: Steve Rhodes

RATING (0 TO ****): ****
In honor of my wife and my twenty-seventh wedding anniversary this past September the thirteenth, I am going to do something I’ve never done before. I am going to review a film I have not seen in ten years. Since the true mark of a great movie is its ability to forever cast an indelible mark on our memory, reviewing a picture you haven’t seen in a decade actually makes some sense.
Late in the year of 1968, Franco Zeffirelli released a new version of the most well known love story in the English language, William Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET. The film had a long run and was still playing the summer of 1969 when my wife Sally and I got married. To this day, it is the only film I have seen more than four or five times. Like Trekies, we want to see the film constantly doing our courtship and could quote most of the lines. Although I have long since lost count, I know the number of times we have seen the picture is between fifteen and twenty. We frequently would stay to see it twice in a row at the local mutliplex. A more romantic and realistic rendition of the nature of love, I have never seen.

Although the play “Romeo and Juliet” has been made into movies many times before and would be made again, no one has ever captured young love as Zeffirelli did. First, the casting of two photogenic, talented, but unknown actors of the right age was the foundation upon which he created a masterpiece. With Olivia Hussey as Juliet and Leonard Whiting as Romeo he had the basic ingredients, but just having the right cast does not a masterpiece make. It only makes it possible.

To this casting, he rounded it out with other equally talented but unknown actors including, Roberto Bisacco as Count Paris, Paul Hardwick as Lord Capulet, Pat Heywood as the Nurse, John McEnery as Mercutio, Milo O’Shea as Friar Laurence, Natasha Parry as Lady Capulet, Antonio Pierfederici as Lord Montague, Bruce Robinson as Benvolio, Esmeralda Ruspoli as Lady Montague, Keith Skinner as Balthazar, Robert Stephens as the Prince of Verona and Michael York as Tybalt. The only major actor was Laurence Olivier who was the narrator.

All of the supporting cast were excellent, but Pat Heywood, John McEnery, Milo O’Shea, Michael York were especially brilliant. McEnery’s Mercutio was a complex and bizarre reading that fit the spirit of the character perfectly. York’s Tybalt was excellent as a character not seeking a fight, but more than confident of his ability if forced by circumstances.

It is interesting to note that only a few of these actors, including the stars, had much success after this film. Hussey and Whiting basically faded into oblivion.

When Romeo feels the rush of love swell up in his veins during a party, the audience vicariously experiences that same rapture. When he presses Juliet’s hand at the dance, it is more erotic than many a scene today where the actors are all buck naked. Finally, the balcony scene, which every student knows and probably thinks is trite, is made fresh in Zeffirelli’s capable hands.

The morning after Romeo and Juliet’s love making, there is the briefest of scene where they are both naked. I liked the way Zeffirelli handled this. He included it to show the reality of the situation, but editor Reginald Mills trimmed it down to just flash the scene on the screen before moving on.

Although it is clear from the beginning that this is a love affair that is destined for tragedy, when the tragedy does strike, the audience is crushed anyway. By the middle of the picture, it is impossible not to be in love with the two protagonists and thereby not want any harm to come to them.

The ending is sad, but effective. This is the richest and most moving of any Shakespeare play I have ever seen made for the screen, and as a critic, I have seen a lot of them.

I can not leave this tribute to one of my absolute favorite pictures without mentioning a few of the outstanding technical aspects of the film. The lush and hazy cinematography by Pasqualino De Santis deservedly won the Academy Award that year. From the very first image, the audience is alerted that something special is about to unfold.

The script by Franco Brusati, Maestro D’Amico, and Franco Zeffirelli is true to the play. Brief sections of the play were removed to get the play down to the right length and pacing for a movie, but Shakespeare’s poetic language was not tampered with.

The editing was flawless. The action sequences are full of energy, but never too choppy. The love scenes stay with the character perfectly.

The Academy Award winning costumes by Danilo Donati are gorgeous. Especially well done are the clothes worn at the dance and all of Juliet’s clothes. They are naturally lovely without being showy.

Finally, the music by Nino Rota is so memorable it leaves you with music and songs forever in your subconscious. I love the theme song and still hear it being played today.

There is another remake coming of “Romeo and Juliet” this year. This time it will be set in modern day Florida and start Claire Danes (LITTLE WOMEN) and Leonardo DiCaprio (WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE). Although I am sure I’ll see it, it will probably feel like a sacrilege to this fan of Zeffirelli’s version. As always as a critic, I’ll try to keep an open mind.

ROMEO AND JULIET runs a fast 2:18. It is not rated, but would probably get a PG today for the extremely brief nude scene and for the tragic theme. There is no sex or bad language. There is a little violence of sword fighting and poisoning. The picture would be fine for any kid old enough to be interested which is probably eight and up. I give this picture my strongest recommendation and my highest rating of ****.





The Towering Inferno

July 21, 2008

Saturday Night Fever

July 21, 2008

Plot Synopsis

John Travolta graduated from minor celebrity to superstar with Saturday Night Fever. Travolta plays Tony Manero, a Brooklyn paint-store clerk who’d give anything to break out of his dead-end existence. In life, Tony is a peasant; on the disco dance floor, he’s a king. As the soundtrack plays one Bee Gees hit after another (including “Stayin’ Alive”), we watch white-suited Tony strut his stuff amidst flashing lights and sweaty, undulating bodies. Tony’s class aspirations are mirrored in his relationship with his dance partner, Stephanie (Karen Lynn Gorney), a secretary eager to move into the glamorous world of Manhattan. Saturday Night Fever‘s huge success grew meteorically thanks to the towering popularity of its soundtrack; during the first half of 1978, when the movie’s disco songs saturated the singles charts up to four at a time, it was no longer clear whether the hit movie was feeding the hit songs or the hit songs were feeding the hit movie. This crossover between music and movies set the pace for many movies to come, as it also marked the rise and fall of 1970s disco culture. Two versions of this film exist: the original R-rated version and a PG version, edited down to more “family-friendly” fare and fed to the public with the tagline, “Because we want everyone to see John Travolta‘s performance.”

Wuthering Heights

July 16, 2008

Back to the Future

July 16, 2008

Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson, Claudia Wells, Marc McClure, Wendie Jo Sperber, George DiCenzo, Frances Lee McCain
Plot: Marty McFly is your average, slacker teenager, who is friendly with a wacky inventor named Doc Brown. When Doc creates a time machine out of a DeLorean car, Marty is accidentally transported into the year 1955. There, he stumbles upon a younger version of his parents, disrupts the meeting, and must get the two together so that they would get married and have him!
Genre: Action / Adventure / Comedy / Sci-Fi

  • Watched this movie several times:  on the wide screen, betamax (it has for sometime been obsolete),  VHS and lastly on compact disc.

The Godfather

July 16, 2008

“The Godfather Trilogy” which consists of “The Godfather” (1972), “The Godfather: Part II” (1974), and “The Godfather: Part III” (1990), is arguably the greatest film trilogy of all time, and “The Godfather” DVD Collection includes all three films. Also, the DVD Collection provides audio commentary tracks by director-cowriter Francis Ford Coppola for all three films. The three movies take up four DVDs, and the Collection has a fifth DVD that contains bonus materials. I love all three movies, and I think “The Godfather” DVD Collection is absolutely terrific.

“The Godfather” takes place in 1945-55 and chronicles the last years of Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), who heads up a Mafia organization in New York City. Before he dies, Vito transfers his power to his calculating son Michael (Al Pacino). About a fourth of “The Godfather: Part II” recounts how Vito (played as a young adult by Robert De Niro) came to New York from Sicily in 1901 and gradually built the Corleone family crime business from scratch. But the main story in “The Godfather: Part II” tells how Michael relocates the family to Nevada and runs casinos in 1958-59. As “The Godfather: Part III” opens in 1979, a much older Michael seeks redemption by donating some of his ill-gotten wealth to charity, but in doing so he runs afoul of another Mafia chieftain. When Michael’s health begins to fail, he turns the Corleone family business over to his nephew Vincent (Andy Garcia).

The DVD features audio commentary by director-cowriter Francis Ford Coppola for all three movies in the trilogy, totaling nearly nine hours of commentary. Coppola reveals that in “The Godfather” the severed horse’s head was real — they got it from a dog food factory. Also, Coppola claims he narrowly avoided being fired in the first few weeks of production because the Paramount execs didn’t like his work. He says things went smoothly on “The Godfather: Part II,” but years later he got in big financial trouble when he made the box-office bomb “One from the Heart” — which I loved — so he reluctantly agreed to do “The Godfather: Part III” for Paramount. Also, Coppola talks a lot about the negative press over casting his then 19-year-old daughter Sofia in a major role. I find her performance substandard, but she’s not so terrible as to ruin the movie.

“The Godfather” is on one DVD, “The Godfather: Part II” takes up two DVDs, and “The Godfather: Part III” is on a single DVD. The fifth DVD in the Collection contains a rich selection of special features. There are 34 (!) additional scenes, including an alternate opening to “The Godfather: Part III.” The “Behind the Scenes” option includes such things as the cast and crew reminiscing, Coppola describing how he worked from an annotated copy of Mario Puzo’s novel, the music of Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola (Francis’ father), Coppola and Puzo on screenwriting, Gordon Willis on cinematography, and storyboards.

The Seven Year Itch

July 16, 2008

The Plot

In the 1950s, when most women didn’t work outside the home, and air conditioning was a luxury, not a given, the wives and children of Manhattan businessmen would leave the sizzling city for woodsy resorts and beach houses. Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell), publisher of cheap paperbacks, resolves to stop smoking and drinking and eat healthy foods while his wife and son are away. And he certainly won’t play the field like the other summer bachelors left behind in the city.


Then he meets his upstairs neighbor: dizzy, ditzy, luscious Marilyn Monroe (known only as The Girl), subletting for the summer. His resolutions go out the window fast, and he finds himself a happily married man tempted by the “seven year itch.”

The Players

Ewell reprises his role in the hit Broadway play, as an average guy with an above-average imagination, engaging in Walter Mitty-esque flights of fantasy. Faithful to his wife for all the seven years of his marriage, he imagines giving in to the “animal magnetism” he engenders in other women. One minute he‘s playing From Here to Eternity on the beach with his wife’s best friend, the next he’s fighting off his amorous secretary. And then he imagines his wife pooh-poohing the whole thing and putting it down to his overactive imagination.

He’s sweet and completely harmless. The audience begins to wonder whether Marilyn has actually appeared in his apartment house, or is just another figment of his vivid imagination.

As The Girl, Monroe is bursting at the seams in a well-chosen wardrobe that makes the most of her assets, but she manages to seem sweet throughout. She dunks potato chips in champagne and thinks it’s “just elegant,” and keeps her undies in the fridge to beat the summer heat.

Monroe‘s image as a sex goddess too often overshadowed her chops as a fine comic actress. She was completely irresistible, and very good.

The Backstory

It’s too bad the Hollywood bluenoses and the Hays Production Code made it necessary to change the play’s actual affair into a simple flirtation. A lot of funny lines and some depth of plot were lost, and it frankly strains credulity that this plain man wouldn’t give in to one of the most desirable women in history.

But director Billy Wilder was a fine and witty writer, and he collaborated with playwright George Axelrod on the screenplay. The movie, bowdlerized though it was, became a huge hit in 1955, and is still considered a classic comedy. The phrase “the seven year itch” became part of the language, and has even been used in scholarly research by psychologists and sociologists.

The Bottom Line

An artifact of the days when women stayed home and men were the breadwinners, The Seven Year Itch has lost some of its luster, and some of its laughs. But it’s still enjoyable, and a must-see for the subway grate scene alone.

Recommended for You:

If you liked The Seven Year Itch, you may like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, Some Like it Hot or other Billy Wilder movies.

Just the Facts:

Year: 1955, Color
Director: Billy Wilder
Running Time: 105 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox

  • I hope I can get a copy of the movie soon.

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July 16, 2008

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