The Astrologer (partially found Craig Denney film; 1976)
An ad for The Astrologer that ran in Ventura County, California newspapers in 1975.
Status: Partially Found
The Astrologer is a 1975 film directed by and starring Craig Denney as a hustler who works as a psychic at a traveling carnival along with his mother. The film is noted for its soundtrack, which includes Procol Harum and the Moody Blues. It has only been screened theatrically since its original 1975 theater run. Although Alamo Drafthouse currently has a DCP and 35mm print of the film, there are no plans to continue screening the film until further notice because of a rights dispute with Paramount Pictures.
Craig Marcus Alexander (played by Craig Denney), is a small-time con man who describes himself as a man born to “lie, cheat and steal”, occasionally works as a psychic at a carnival. One day he discovers his psychic abilities are real, and while working he meets his future wife, Diana Blair (played by Florence Marly). Longing for more financial stability, he gets swept up in an international diamond smuggling ring. After acquiring stolen diamonds, he utilizes his newly acquired wealth to establish a sprawling "Astrology Empire" based on his talent. He also uses his newfound wealth to rescue his former lover, who has fallen into a life of squalor and prostitution. During this time, Alexander also begins to make a movie about his own life as well, as the film begins to become introspective of its own production.
However, Alexander begins to overexert his empire and tarnish business relations, and soon both his business and his love life crumble. After a tumultuous fight with his wife at a restaurant (with the scene set to Procol Harum’s Grand Hotel), she walks out of his life and Alexander is left completely alone. The film ends with a quote from King Lear.
Background on Craig Denney/Production
Before directing The Astrologer, Craig Denney ran a New Age company called Moon House International, an astrology company that provided digital Horoscopes. After successfully acquiring 4 million dollars, he would shoot The Astrologer in several locations, including Kenya and Thailand.
Denny would become involved in several other minor budget productions (such as Barracuda) and acquired licensing to Republic Pictures, during which they formally announced a public rebranding with Denney, which was named as Chief Executive. Denney’s last collaboration was a picture called Oceanic Opera: a Sea Odyssey. The film would remain unfinished, after a lawsuit threatened production and forced him to relinquish the film negatives.
The Astrologer aired on Television on CBS back in the early 1980s, shortly before Craig Denney mysteriously “passed away”. It is unknown when exactly Denny died and where his body is located. Various sources allege that Denny may have staged his own death to avoid paying taxes to the IRS. His death remains a mystery.
Last Known Screenings
One of the few known existing prints for The Astrologer is currently being held at the American Genre Film Archives (both in 35mm and a widely circulated DCP format). There is also a rumored 16mm print possessed by the company Something Weird Video but this is unconfirmed. Alamo Drafthouse originally planned a nationwide screening for The Astrologer after screening it as apart of the Endangered Fest in Austin, Texas on March 23rd 2013. However, because they owned only one 35mm print and could not successfully locate others, Alamo Drafthouse was hesitant to further screen the only copy they had, as the film would continue to degrade. After successfully starting a formal Indiegogo campaign to digitally convert the film, it would go on to be screened in England, Canada, Scotland and Atlanta, Georgia. Alamo heavily marketed a nationwide screening of The Astrologer in participating Alamo Drafthouse theaters throughout the US as well during their Indiegogo campaign, even going as far as to offer Tarot Cards and Astrology readings to those who donated.
Plans fell through as Paramount Films refused to allow them the right to screen it nationwide (as Republic Pictures has since folded and their library was acquired by Paramount Pictures). According to Alamo, Paramount did not want to license out the film unless it was apart of a package deal that included other titles. Alamo Drafthouse declined, arguing that the film’s value was largely “niche” to justify such a deal.
The last known screening of The Astrologer was in September 2019 at Vulcan Video in Austin, Texas as apart of their Taps and Tapes "Mystery" screenings. It is believed that the copy screened was the same DCP scan from 2014.
- Matchbox Cineclub article on Craig Denney and his life before and during the filming of The Astrologer. Retrieved 02 Jan '20
- Temple of Schlock Blogspot page on the Endangered Fest in Austin, Texas. Retrieved 02 Jan '20
- Indiegogo page on the efforts to screen The Astrologer nationwide. Retrieved 02 Jan '20
- Birth Movies Death article on The Astrologer. Retrieved 02 Jan '20
- Letterboxd page on The Astrologer. Retrieved 02 Jan '20