R.I.P. Bud Ekins

Written by Joe D on October 9th, 2007

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Bud Ekins in The Great Escape

Bud Ekins, the champion motorcyclist and stuntman has died. Probably his most famous stunt was doubling for Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. Bud did the jump over the barb wire fence at the Nazi POW camp. Everyone thought McQueen did the stunt himself but it was Bud.
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He also did a lot of the riding in the opening credits of the television series Then Came Bronson starring Michael Parks. It’s hard to get copies of this show but it’s definitely worth it, a very cool show and some of the shots of Bud, driving across an incredible bridge over Bixby Creek in Big Sur, zipping along the beach just at the edge of the breaking surf, are inspiring.

Bronson commercial featuring Bud

By the way Michael Parks is one of the stars of my film One Night With You. Joe Montgomery, my DP, grew up in Hollywood and told me he used to go to Bud Ekins motorcycle shop and watch Von Dutch pinstripe bikes. Bud Smith, an old friend and great editor, was an associate producer and editor on William Friedkin’s Sorcerer. Bud Smith was good friends with Bud Ekins. Ekins did stunt driving on Sorcerer and Smith told me he was in the cab of the truck with Ekins driving when they crossed the rope suspension bridge. If you look at the poster for Sorcerer there’s a picture of the truck on the bridge, it’s a frame enlargement from the 35mm original picture negative. In the next frame the truck falls off the bridge into the river.

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The Truck goes over in the next frame!

The two Buds were in the cab. Bud Smith said Ekins was cool as a cucumber, remembering to hold his radio and his cigarettes up over his head so they didn’t get soaked. Bud Ekins did the motorcycle stunt in Bullit as well, sliding across the highway during the great chase scene just before the climactic finish.

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That’s Bud doing the jump

I heard him on the radio one time telling of how Steve McQueen would buy whole batches of motorcycles from him, then he’d forget to make payments, Bud would have to go up to Steve’s house and repossess the bikes, then McQueen would find out , come down to Bud’s shop, yell at him, pay up, take his bikes back and they’d be friends once again! Goodbye Bud, you led a colorful life and gave us a lot of thrills at the movies.
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Check out the dents in the front wheel!
Here’s a quote from Trailblazers about Bud’s racing career:
“In the 1950s, Bud Ekins was one of the first Americans to compete in Europe in the World Championship Motocross Grand Prix circuit. He also earned gold medals in the International Six Day Trial (now International Six Day Enduro). When he returned from Europe, Ekins dominated desert events. In 1955, riding a Triumph, Ekins won the Catalina Grand Prix. He also won the Big Bear Run - three times!”

R.I.P. Charles B. Griffith

Written by Joe D on October 3rd, 2007

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A Real Gone Cat

We’ve lost another rarity, an original voice in the Galaxy of Film. Charles B. Griffith, the creative motor behind some of Roger Corman’s best, most original films.
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Bucket Of Blood, Not Of This Earth, Little Shop Of Horrors, and a weird one I liked as a kid The Undead, it had a ton of atmosphere maybe because a lot of it was filmed in an old ice house, also a lot of the dialog is in verse.

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A Scene from The Undead, shot in an Ice House

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Bucket Of Blood is a very funny film that also documents the Venice Beach beatnik scene and the whole bongo playing coffeehouse artiste genre. Not Of This Earth is a super creepy evil alien takeover story with some excellent voice over and a cast of crazy characters. Check these out if you get a chance.

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Charles B. also wrote some seminal biker flick’s for Corman and American International. Check out John Cassavetes and Mimsy Farmer in Devil’s Angels and Peter Fonda with Nancy Sinatra in The Wild Angels.
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Cassavettes in a Biker Flick? How Cool Is That!

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Looks like a Jack Davis Drawing to me

Griffith would crank these scripts out in a week or two days or however much time Roger gave him maybe that’s why they’re so full of “spontaneous poetry”. Yeah daddio he was the Jack Kerouac of B movies or as Quentin Tarantino dubbed him “The Poet Laureate Of The Drive-In“.

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Groovy Graphics
So Fare Thee Well Charles B. Griffith. They’re all laughing and snapping their fingers at The Big Drive-In in The Sky.

Trailer For A Bucket Of Blood

Here’s a cool interview with him:http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/05/35/charles_b_griffith.html

The Born Losers

Written by Joe D on August 30th, 2007

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I guess the biker movie motif has got me. Writing about The Wild One got me thinking about this other biker flick The Born Losers. It’s pretty badly made, some of the worst grade Z lighting in any flick ever! Especially the scenes with Jane Russell. ( What is she doing in this movie???) But what it does have going for it is , Billy Jack, the first appearance of this drive- in icon. Part Indian, part Green Beret he’s a back to nature ass kicker. There’s a scene where he’s standing off the whole biker gang at a gas station, he uses the cardinal rule of street fighting, make a weapon out of whatever’s at hand, ( car antenna, bottle, etc.) in this case he douses a downed biker with gas and threatens to light him up with a Zippo unless they let him and his chick get away. The lead chick , Vicky Barrington, is a strange one, she rides around on a motorcycle in a bikini and boots, she’s a spoiled rich brat, she is constantly wisecracking, even to the bikers that want to rape her! And she wrote the script! Several young girls get raped by the polymorphously perverse biker gang. Vicky gets it from a singularly unappealing deaf mute who goes around making noises like ” Unnnggghhhhoooouuuuggggnnn!” Wacko!

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Dig those white shades on The Leader Of The Pack
The gang members tounge kiss each other and one hirsute member is always asking the other guys to take a shower together! Where other movies skirt around the piratical homosexuality this movie embraces it with a big sloppy kiss! The greatest scene by far though is where a badly beaten Billy Jack returns to rescue Vicky from the bikers, he’s got a gun and he tells the leader he’s going to count to 3. Danny calls his bluff, Billy Jack: “One!” Danny:”You can’t get all of us”Billy Jack :”Two!” Danny: “I’m going to rip your guts out, half breed” Billy Jack: “Three!”, BLAM!!! He shoots Danny right between the eyes! Splitting his groovy white sunglasses in two! Insane! We’ve all seen this scene before, it never ends with the bad guy getting shot! Except this time! It’s a mind blower! This movie was very successful, it was made for zilch and looks it but it raked in mucho dinero at the box office, probably at Drive-Ins across the USA. I can’t really recommend it, it’s up to you, I’m posting the trailer YOU make up your mind. It definitely falls into my new category: CRAPTASTIC.

Lee Marvin Blog-A-Thon/ The Wild One

Written by Joe D on August 29th, 2007

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Today is the 20th anniversary of Lee Marvin’s death, to celebrate the greatness of Mr. Marvin a group of bloggers are writing about him and some of his films. I’m taking on The Wild One. Wait a minute, you might say, isn’t that a Brando film? Well yeah but Lee comes in and steals the show!
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Scene Stealer
Brando looks like he was drawn by Tom of Finland. His costume is so fetishized , boots, tight jeans, black leather jacket, black leather gloves, motorcycle cap, tee shirt, slave bracelet! Did this film give birth to this homoerotic costume? Guys were wearing this in Friedkin’s Cruising.
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Vision Of Homoeroticism

But Lee is all crazy macho clown prince of anarchy. The coolest striped shirt in Cinema. A WWII leather flight helmet and goggles. He’s like the Trickster character of Mythology.
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The Trickster
Crazy, violent, with a wild sense of humor. His first words to Brando are ” Hello Sweetheart!” and he keeps saying ” Johnny, I love you. Let’s drink some beers and then I’ll beat the Christmas out of you!” Crazy man!
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Let’s drink some beers and I’ll beat the Christmas out of you!

These bikers are sort of like crazed Beatniks, more than savage killers. They’re almost proto-hippies, talking jive, dancing, playing. This film was a huge cultural phenomenon.
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Slip me Some Skin, Pops!
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The Juke gets a lot of Screen Time. Dig that crazy 78 it’s playing

One of my older friends told me that when lt came out, his older brothers went to see it and the next day they all bought motorcycles. Brando is driving a 1951 Triumph Thunderbird. A cool machine.
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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, That’s where the band got it’s name

I heard he was taught to ride by a black stuntman named King Kong. I also heard that Mr. Kong was having a red hot love affair with blonde bombshell Barbara Payton! Back in the uptight 50’s, Zowie! Lee looks to be driving a stripped down Harley Flathead. Also cool. The movie starts off with the usual motorcycle antics. Riding, run in with the Law, terrorizing a tiny town, then Brando meets the uptight girl. They’re about to leave, the energy’s getting low when Big Bad Lee Marvin shows up! He kicks the film into overdrive, really boosting the octane with his crazed, funny, dangerous portrayal of Chino. Once he and Johnny were in the same gang but alas no more. Now they must kick the shit out of each other everytime they meet. Super Psycho Timothy Carey shows up as a henchman of Lee’s, he throws a beer in Lee’s face to wake him after Brando knocks him out.
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Wake up Chino!
Carey is great in Kubrick’s Paths Of Glory and really chews up the scenery in de Toth’s Crime Wave, another noir in the Vol. 4 collection I’ve been writing about. But really this movie is more important as a cultural landmark than a great piece of Cinema. It changed our society in several ways. It was based on a story in Life magazine about a group of bikers that terrorize a small California town and from what I’ve heard the story was exaggerated to sell more magazines.
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Ring Around the Square Chick!

The top stars of this time, at least the ones that appealed to the teenagers like Brando and James Dean, exposed their sensitivity, they cried,they were a bit gender confused, Brando always wanted to be beaten in every role he played back then.
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Beaten Brando

Not Lee Marvin, he was 100% macho, take it or leave it. Michael Parks, one of the stars of my film One Night With You and star of the late 60’s motorcycle Television series Then Came Bronson told me that when he saw The Wild One he didn’t care for Brando, it was the other guy, Lee Marvin that he wanted to be like. Happy Anniversary Lee, we miss you down here on Terra Firma.
p.s. Check out more Lee Marvin blogs at:
http://www.moviemorlocks.com/blog?action=detail&entry_id=8a258bcb14afce0a0114b0216bed0002
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Save me a place in Valhalla, Daddio!