Question: Back when I was a young lad - mid- to late 1960s - WWOR-TV in NYC used to run something called Million Dollar Movie. They would play the same movie for the entire week. I remember one movie that was based on the opera Carmen. At the time, of course, I didn't know the movie was based on the opera. I don't remember seeing it since then. I only remember the last scene: The male lead (dragoon) is about to be shot when the female lead - Carmen, I think - gets in front of him and gets shot instead. She dies in his arms and he dies shortly afterwards from an earlier injury; then there's a rush of dragoons into the bandits' hideout and the movie ends.

I thought it was the Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford version of Carmen, but when I saw that a few years ago it wasn't the one I remembered. There have been several movies based on Carmen, and I couldn't even tell you if the movie was foreign and dubbed. If you have any idea about the movie and who was in it, I would greatly appreciate it. - Ted


FlickChick: This is a real puzzle, and it intrigued me in part because I have such fond memories of the Million Dollar Movie - a number of New York- and New Jersey-born directors I've interviewed vividly recall studying movies they liked on Million Dollar Movie and getting their first lessons in how to use editing and camera placement to tell a story in visual terms. WOR came up with the Million Dollar Movie in 1954 as a way of filling up airtime inexpensively; it started out showing only RKO films - the same parent company owned both WOR and the RKO library - but later branched out. I'm surprised no one has devoted a website - or at least some pages - to the Million Dollar Movie series, given the Web presence of, say, ABC's The 4:30 Movie (a favorite of mine because it showed a lot of horror and sci-fi films - click on the link just to see and hear the groovy show-opener!).

In any event, I can't give you a definitive answer about your Carmen, but I can make an educated guess: The Devil Made a Woman (1959), which is the U.S. title of the Spanish movie Carmen, la de Ronda. The other two versions of Carmen that fit the time frame - aside, of course, from the 1948 Hayworth/ Ford Loves of Carmen are Carmen Jones (1954) and a 1945 French/Italian film called simply [ i]Carmen, with the charmingly named Viviane Romance as Carmen and Jean Marais, star of Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast (1946), as Don Jose. That Carmen was only distributed in the U.S. in subtitled prints and wouldn't have been part of a package destined for a U.S. TV station. I think you might have remembered if the film you saw had an all African-American cast, and since you didn't, that eliminates Carmen Jones.

Carmen, la de Ronda/ The Devil Made a Woman was distributed in the U.S. in 1962 by Medallion pictures in an English-dubbed version - the posters and lobby cards promised "Lusty Exciting Action in Technicolor" (not to be nerdy, but it was actually shot in Eastmancolor). Carmen, la de Ronda was a musical (it featured original songs rather than selections from Bizet's opera), which is no surprise in that star Sarita Montiel was as famous as a singer as she was for her sultry good looks. But most references to The Devil Made a Woman allude to the fact that it's a Carmen with no songs, which suggests that Medallion cut the singing sequences.

There are also apparently two versions of the film, one aimed at the Spanish market and the other tailored for the French market. In both Carmen is a cabaret singer rather than a worker in a cigarette factory (which makes the "no songs" thing odder still) and her lover ( Maurice Ronet) is a sergeant in Napoleon's army - a dragoon. In the Spanish version she falls in with Spanish resistance fighters, and in the French version they're bandits, which is closer to the Merimee's original smugglers.

Were the movie available, I'd check for myself. But it looks as though the only version ever put out in the U.S. was in 1992, by a small Spanish-language video company.

If anyone knows more, please speak up!

Question: I'm looking for a horror movie I saw on TV in the mid- to late 1970s. It might have been made for TV, but I'm not sure. It was about a film crew making a movie in an old house where everybody who ever owned it had died mysteriously. The last owner was supposedly a witch. First a cat gets killed, and then someone gets shot, and there's a graveyard nearby. - Gerry

FlickChick: I'm going with House of the Seven Corpses (1974), a movie that has its fans but which I find unbelievably boring, especially since the seven corpses are the previous seven owners of the house; their demises are chronicled in a short montage at the beginning of the film, and then no one else gets killed for what seems like forever.

Not that I'm a gorehound or anything, but the title strikes me as more than a little deceptive. John Carradine plays the creepy caretaker who spends an inordinate amount of time lurking, and more than an hour of the movie is devoted to the cast and crew of a B movie being screamed at by their horrible director. There's a book of Tibetan chants lying around, and they substitute something from the book for the second-rate ritual chants in the script, thereby unleashing some kind of bad juju that takes its sweet time actually doing anything.

Yawn.

Question: All right, Maitland, here we go two questions: How excited are you that il padrone Dario Argento is completing his "Three Mothers" trilogy this year? And what did you think of Do You Like Hitchcock?, assuming that you've seen it? - Ray

FlickChick: I await Mother of Tears with a queasy mixture of dread and hope, because Argento's last several films have been, shall we say, disappointing. And the reviews from Toronto aren't making me less uneasy. In fact, the positive reviews disturb me more than the negative ones, because they're predicated on the notion that Mother of Tears is great because it's camp and goofy and not torture porn. Uh-oh

But of course, I'm still dying to see it, because it's Argento, because it closes out the trilogy he started with Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980), and because it's crawling with old-time Argento associates. It stars his daughter, Asia, and her mother, his former companion, Daria Nicolodi - Asia's mother, the cowriter of Suspiria and costar of Deep Red (1975) and many other Argento films - reprising her role from Inferno. Also on hand: Coralina Cataldi Tassoni, from Demons 2 (1986), Opera (1987) and Phantom of the Opera (1988); Udo Kier from Suspiria; and Massiomo Sarchielli of Phantom and I Can't Sleep (2001). The music is by former Goblin Claudio Simonetti, the effects are by Sergio Stivaletti, and Argento's brother, Claudio, is one of the producers the gang's all here! But though I hear mutterings about a U.S. release early next year, I think the odds are good that I'm not going to see Mother of Tears until it comes to DVD.

As to Do You Like Hitchcock?, which Argento made in 2005 for Italian television, I can't say I think much of it, but it was a hell of an improvement on The Card Player (2004). And there is a certain pleasing symmetry to the fact that Argento, dubbed "the Italian Hitchcock" way back at the beginning of his career, pays homage to Strangers on a Train and Rear Window through a story about a Hitchcock-obsessed movie fan who witnesses a murder. Needless to say, I bought a copy as soon as it came out on DVD here - my Argento shelf must be complete!

Question: I remember seeing a Movie of the Week when I was a kid about a guy living behind the walls in a house. Everyone told me that was Bad Ronald, but when I finally found a copy I realized it's not the one I remember. Do you know of another movie with that plot? - Stu

FlickChick: I think you may be looking for Crawlspace. Not the notorious 1986 movie with Klaus Kinski, but a 1972 made-for-TV movie in which a childless older couple ( Arthur Kennedy and Teresa Wright) befriend a strange, reclusive young man who takes up residence in the basement crawlspace of their isolated house. Things don't go much better in this film than they do in Bad Ronald (1974), but it's more sympathetic to the high-strung young man - the unfortunate things he winds up doing are prompted by persecution by bigoted locals who peg him for a dirty hippie and a misguided desire to protect his new "family." By fortunate coincidence, Crawlspace has just come out on DVD from a small company called Wild Eye; it's part of the company's "TV Movie Terror Collection," which also includes the Rosemary's Baby-influenced The Devil's Daughter (1973), with Shelley Winters and Joseph Cotten.

Send your movie questions to FlickChick.

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