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KPBS Midday Edition Segments

How Godzilla Changed Italian Cinema

 January 8, 2020 at 10:15 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 Now Beth Huck Amando is the KPBS arts and culture reporter, but she also volunteers as a film programmer with film geeks, San Diego and co-hosts, a pair of annual film series at digital gym cinema. This Sunday marks the launch of a monthly series on Italian Shondra cinema and Monday night is the start of gearhead cinema. And Beth is here to discuss the films. Welcome vet. Speaker 2: 00:25 Thank you. To begin, tell us a little about film geeks, San Diego. Sure. This is the sixth year that film geek San Diego has been programming at digital Jim's cinema, and my main partner in crime for this is Miguel Rodriguez of horrible imaginings film festival. So we've volunteer as programmers and through our film geeks Facebook page, we pull followers about themes for our year long series. And this year people voted for Italian Shara cinema and gearhead cinema. So our goal through this is to present films in some kind of a context, be it film history, or a more social perspective. Speaker 1: 01:00 This Sunday you start the Italian Shara series with Colossus of Rhodes, and here's a little of the trailer you sent. Speaker 3: 01:09 Fabulous Colossus. Let's try the Harbor of road. City of sin, a pagan fortress with an evil purpose behind its eyes. Cruel warriors watch the devastation they have run within its walls, the temple of the devil worshipers as the great God molec incites its followers into our raging Peoria of ecstasy and error and behind the wicked heart of the Colossus of fiendish torture chamber. Yeah. Fighting back against terror like this was almost shore death when one man gambled his fantastic strength and pallor Dario, the daring portrayed by a Rory Calhoun star of the Texan racing at the head of a band of reckless horsemen, Eve pieing, the treachery of a beautiful princess. Speaker 2: 01:51 Now it's a flesh, lots of sword fights. And it's an Italian film in English. Yes. So these are really fun. The Italian film industry was looking to cash in on the popularity of the American biblical epics, like Cecil B to mills, the 10 commandments. And they wanted something that looked like a Hollywood product since that appealed to Italian audiences. And they also wanted something that they could export back to America to cash in on an additional market. So these films were called peplum films and that's a Latin word for robe of the state. So Italy had been producing these sword and sandal films since the silent era, but the second world war devastated the film industry and it rebounded with highly respected neorealist films, but also more popular genre film like low budget comedies and these sword and sandal films. So while they're inspired by Hollywood's biblical epics, these peplum films took a more fun tax, shall we say. Speaker 2: 02:50 So instead of trying to serve up profound dramas steeped in history, most peplum films aimed a little lower and went for lavish spectacle and sensuality mixed with fantasy. So Colossus of Rhodes is the first feature of Sergio Leoni who would also go on to define the spaghetti westerns in the following decade. And you, since your series is called Italian genre cinema, I guess we can't expect spaghetti westerns. Absolutely. And we are going to have one from one of the masters, which is Sergio Leoni and he's the one who gave Clint Eastwood his overseas stardom. And the film we're going to be showing is for a few dollars more, which is actually the sequel to a fistful of dollars, which kind of started the entire spaghetti Western genre. So here's a little taste of that film. Speaker 4: 03:39 Well, such a big reward offered under you gentlemen. I thought I might just tag along and the next robbery might just turn you into the law. Naturally. I'll be in the Tavern, the around his things anyway, just like the food. But the month will go fast. Speaker 5: 04:03 [inaudible] Speaker 2: 04:06 the series is designed to trace the evolution of Italian Shara cinema and these are films aimed at the masses, so we only are able to show 12 films, one a month. So it's a quick journey. But we go from sword and sandal films to comedies to spaghetti westerns in the 60s and then geologists and police thrillers in the seventies and eighties and to put these films into a context in terms of both the Italian film industry and the politics of the time, we'll be partnering with the San Diego Italian film festival and having its artistic director, Antonio and NATA provide introductions. Great. The Italian films are one Sunday a month at 1:00 PM at digital gym cinema and gearhead cinema is one Monday night a month. How do you define gearheads cinema? Well, we are going to be offering a diverse range of films in which the cars are the stars. So there are cult films like vanishing point and road warrior classy racing films like grand Prix art house films like Walter Hill's, the driver, and then a special delicious kind of cheese ball film like hot rods to hell. And that kicks off the series on Monday. And here's a scene with some kids trying to run a family car off the road Speaker 5: 05:24 going 55 [inaudible] Speaker 2: 05:50 55 no, that sounds like one of the films with juvenile delinquents, the 1950s it's a film that's a bit out of step with time because it was made in 1967 with Dana Andrews as the square dad. And it's really a fun piece of B-movie cheesiness with the actors acting their heart out. And it's very different from the more serious car films like grand Prix and Lumon. But we wanted to showcase the broad range of car movies that have been made and we'll be having a stunt driver, Steve leper, come and introduce select films and provide insights into how a film like rom pre was made and why gearheads like him are so enamored with it now. How can people get more information on these films? You can either go to the digital gyms cinemas website or you can check out our film geeks SD Facebook page and for Sunday films, I always make themed dessert treats to go with the movies. It sounds like a total experience. It's great fun. Beth will be on hand to cope present the films in this series and you can find out more about the films on her cinema junkie blog and podcast. Beth, thank you. Thank you.

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In addition to being the KPBS arts reporter, I also volunteer as a film programmer through Film Geeks SD and co-host a pair of annual film series at Digital Gym Cinema. This Sunday marks the launch of a monthly series on Italian Genre Cinema and Monday night is the start of Gearhead Cinema.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments