Little Shop Of Horrors, COLORIZED!

Written by Joe D on November 2nd, 2018

two geniuses- Chuck Griffith and Mel Welles

I am not a fan of colorized movies, I love B&W films! But I must say I enjoyed this vcolor version of the Chuck Griffith/Roger Corman classic. Probably because the original B&W photography was not the greatest. They shot the movie in 4 days or something so not much time to nitpick the lighting. Anyway Enjoy it IN COLOR!

The Pit And The Pendulumn

Written by Joe D on November 26th, 2017

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Here is a short film of E.A.Poe’s great story, The Pit and The Pendulumn. Made by the illustrious animator/ filmmaker Jan Svankmajer. Super creepy, great sound effects, wonderful design by his talented wife, it’s a masterpiece. It does take a few liberties with the original story, in Poe’s version the walls of the room come together like a flattened box, forming a narrower and narrower lozenge, the metal walls of which are red hot, ay the center of the lozenge is the Pit which the victim is forced to fall into, devilishly ingenious. Svankmajer has the metal wall push one towards the Pit, a slight difference, also the end of the story turns out differently. But the subjective viewpoint he uses does match the internal monolouge of Poe’s version, without a voice over. I think it’s an interesting creative choice. The fiendish decorations seem inspired by Hieronymous Bosch and are beautifully realized. What a cool film. So wonderful it was made, there aren’t enough works like this these days, personal, artistic, artisinal. Check it out.

P.S. Here is a translation of the Latin quote at the begining of the piece, it is from Poe’s story as well.
Here an impious mob of torturers, insatiable, fed their long-lasting frenzies for innocent blood. Now that the fatherland is safe, now that the cave of murder has been destroyed, in the place where foul death once was, life and health are open to all.

The Long Haul Of A.I. Bezzerides

Written by Joe D on October 16th, 2016

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Being a huge fan of Robert Aldrich’s noir masterpiece “Kiss Me Deadly” I have been wanting to see this documentary about the man that wrote the screenplay, A.I. Bezzerides. I had heard about it a couple of years ago, I think it was going to play at the Egyptian but I missed the screening and the film disappeared. But now lo and behold you can see it on a website called Snag Films. Just push THIS. What a character, he also wrote Jules Dassin’s “Theives Highway” and “They Drive By Night” a Warner Bros. melodrama with Bogey, George ,I never watch my own films, Raft and the sublime Ida Lupino.
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The Best of the bunch is “Kiss Me Deadly” starring mega meathead Ralph Meeker as Mike Hammer, I grew up watching this film on Channel 5 , WNEW in NYC. I loved it, I’d watch it every time it was on, great sports cars, great women, extreme violence, Atomic mystery box, 50’s L.A. locations, Angels Flight, Bunker Hill, the stuff dreams are made of, and Albert, Dr. Cyclops, Dekker.
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Anyway if you haven’t seen Kiss Me Deadly watch it now! Then check out The Long Haul of A.I. Bezzerides.
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Also the great Jack Elam, way before he caught a fly in his gun barrel in Once Upon A Time In The West

Grandfathers Of Crime- Boileau Narcejac

Written by Joe D on October 9th, 2016

These guys wrote Vertigo and Diabolique. An incomparable collaboration that shaped Crime Novels and Crime Films.

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The Making Of The Misfits

Written by Joe D on February 22nd, 2016

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Here’s a wonderful documentary about the making of The Misfits, a classic B&W film. What an amazing collection of talent! Arthur Miller, John Huston, the cast, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Monty Clift, Eli Wallach, Thelma Ritter, the brilliant crew including the genius cameraman Russell Metty and the spectaculer editor George Tomasini.

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Russell Metty with Orson Welles

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The Great George Tomasini
What a group. Out in the middle of nowhere making an existential Western. Wow, I wish I could have been there. I first saw this film back on the WOR Million Dollar Movie, it fascinated me as a young movie nut. I loved Marilyn and I had never seen Gable in a movie like this. The incredible cinematography blew me away, especially the mustang catching sequence. Metty had shot such masterpieces as Orson Welles Touch Of Evil, Douglas Sirk’s Magnificent Obsession, Kubrick’s Spartacus, to name a few. George Tomasini was best known for his work with Hitchcock, including, Vertigo, Psycho, Rear Window and North by Northwest. One of the greatest editors of all time. Anyway here is Part one of the doc. Check it out.

D.O.A.

Written by Joe D on January 4th, 2016

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This is a classic movie, iconic L.A. locations, a twisted noir plot, amazing San Francisco street footage, a crazy bebop Jazz sequence and Neville Brand. Where to begin? Well I had a friend in town visiting frome Rome, Italy that is, Trevi Fountain, Cinecitta. Anyway I wanted to show him around downtown L.A. and one of our stops was the amazing Bradbury building. Most people recognize it as the location in Blade Runner, where Harrison Ford fights Rutger Hauer but I think equally as important a use for this location was in D.O.A.
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I recommended to my Italian friend that he watch D.O.A. and see how the building we just visited was used in that film. I wound up watching it again and I realized that Russel Rouse was one of the writers and Harry Popkin was the producer.

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These guys were responsible for some of the hippest 50’s noir to hit the silver screen of your local drive in. I did not know they were part of the D.O.A. team. Popkin and Rouse worked on The Well, a searing indictment of racism, ahead of it’s time and The Thief. Rouse made Wicked Woman, a film I recently wrote about. So that got me re-interested in D.O.A. , Let me just vsay it right out front I am not a big fan of Edmund O’Brien, but his scene chewing style works pretty well at times in this film and he runs like no one in Cinema! His frenzied run for your life performance on the streets of San Francisco, crashing into innocent bystanders is a highlight of the film.
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Other wonderful elements include an incredible sequence aboard a city bus, where the gangsters that want to kill O’Brien are following the bus he’s on and you can see them out the window of the bus at night as they stalk him. A beautiful nightmarish sequence. Actually the nighttime photography of downtown L.A. is particularly great, Neville Brand taking O’Brien for a ride especially.
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I think it would be educational to compare this sequence to some that Robert Siodmak did, like the crazy jazz jam session in Phantom Lady or the dance scene in Criss Cross. The D.O.A. scene is really great performances, great shots and great editing, Siodmak’s reveal a planned out sequence that works beautifully, it was created in the director’s mind while the D.O.A. scene was put together in the editing room.
Rudolph Mate’ the director of D.O.A. started as a camerman in Europe, shooting such masterpieces as Dreyer’s The Passion Of Joan Of Arc, this is the movie that Anna Karina watches in Godard’s Vivre Sa Vie. Mate’ also directed a film that was a location on another stop of my downtown tour, Union Station, a noir that takes place at perhaps the most iconic downtown L.A. location.

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Rudy at the camera films Dietrich
Mate’ was director of photography on many, many classic Hollywood films, Pride Of The Yankees, Dante’s Inferno, Foriegn Correspondent, Stella Dallas, Sahara, Gilda and The Lady From Shanghai, to name just a few. He delivers a fast paced ( 83 minute) gem that never let’s up and has many especially well directed scenes, take for example the final confrontation, at The Bradbury Building. It is shot just like a classic shootout from a Western, incredible.

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Draw, Motherfucker!
Whenever a director can put another subtext or layer of meaning onto a scene and it is harmonius with the action not obtrusive, it’s a wonderful thing. Watch it for yourself, a film class in 2 minutes. Then there’s Neville Brand, so over the top as Chester the thug or maybe goon is better, Sadistic, simple minded, evil but with a lot of personality.

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Chester doesn’t like Bigelow. He’s soft in the belly!

I like Neville Brand, check him out in the underrated Eaten Alive by Tobe Hooper. And as Quentin Tarantino once told me, the second most decorated soldier of WWII after Audie Murphy. So check out D.O.A. then go down and visit the Bradbury building, you can park across the street at the Grand Central Market and have lunch.

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P.S. Here it is on YouTube.

Too Late For Tears

Written by Joe D on January 27th, 2015

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Here’s a noir bombshell from1949. Byron Haskin directed it, he was a special effects guy at Warner Bros. and later directed The War Of The Worlds for George Pal. He also directed some of the best episode of The Outer Limits, Demon with A Glass Hand, and The Architects of Fear. Hunt Stromberg produced this “cookie full of Arsenic”. He had a long run as a successful producer at MGM, he came up under Thalberg and worked with Selznick, then he got into a beef with Louis B. Mayer and went independent. This is one of his independent creations. The script was by Roy Huggins, based on his novel and it’s a winner, great characters, excellent dialog, everything top notch except the very end, oh well. Huggins went on to be a giant among TV creators/Producers with such shows as The Fugitive, Run For Your Life and The Rockford Files.

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But the real heroes of this opus are Lisabeth Scott as the one of the coldest killers ever to grace the silver screen and Dan Duryea, the slime king. Best known for slapping women onscreen, the poster for this film is Dan slapping Lisabeth! They marketed the film on his woman beater appeal.
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I have a theory about noir, WWII is over, soldiers are returning home, a lot of G.I.s got Dear John letters, their wives left them while they were at war. Tokyo Rose would broadcast stories of infidelity by Statebound brides to the soldiers overseas. This led to the creation of the Noir Femme Fatale, the false female, who’ll smile , seduce, and kill without missing a beat, sure they can turn on the waterworks, shed tears at the drop of a hat, but underneath, all business. So here is the returning soldier’s nightmare come true. What’s the one thing a desperate soldier, far from home could think about to give himself some relief from killing, mayhem, explosions? Little Sally Jean, the girl he left swinging on the garden gate. What if Tokyo rose was right? She’s evil, corrupted. His dreams are all Lies! Well, here she is, the beautiful blonde with the morals of a scorpion. Lisabeth Scott is amazing in this film. She turns from a bitchy but seemingly happily married woman in an instant all because of money, the old do re mi, a lot of it that drops in her lap. I don’t want to ruin the story but there are some depraved scenes of her and Dan Duryea getting it on just because he can make her do it, they hate each other! It’s deliciously perverse! According to Eddie Muller, the czar of noir, almost all of the budget went to the two big stars, they were worth it!

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It was later re-released under this title
So the production of the film was low budget, a lot of the action takes place in Scott’s apartment but it makes the film psycologically more real in a way. You feel trapped in that nest of evil. There are some scenes in Dan Duryea’s flop, it’s perfect as the dump a small time creepy crook would hang his hat in. Another couple of great locations are Union Station, maybe the most beautiful building still left in L.A. and the lake at McArthur Park, called WestLake Park in the movie. A one time high rent district that’s now kind of funky. Silent Film director William Desmond Taylor was murdered in his bungalow just around the corner. Anyway the film is in poor shape, Eddie’s Noir Foundation did a restoration with UCLA but I don’t think that’s out on video yet so you have to make do with what’s available. But next time it screens at the Noir Festival, I will be there.

Here’s the best looking Youtube version I could find.

Griffith and Corman’s Little Shop Of Horrors- Happy Halloween!

Written by Joe D on October 29th, 2013

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I’ve always loved this movie ever since I saw it on ABC’s afternoon movie or whatever that show was called. I watched it again recently and I still dig it. First off the music of Fred Katz, kooky, idiosyncratic Jazz brilliantly arranged and a lot of fun. And unique I can’t think of any other music that sounds like it. The credits are sort of animated to the music with theses appearing, disappearing dots and then this pan of a gigantic drawing of skid row in a kind of Gottlieb style, super cool.

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Chuck Griffith about to be eaten, he also supplied the voice of the monster plant

The writing of Chuck Griffith is at it’s off beat comic peak, so many bizarre character names, so much wordplay, really inspiring and funny. It’s kind of a re-tread of Bucket Of Blood, a nebbish becomes a famous Artist but has to kill people to create his Art, that character Walter Paisley is portrayed by Corman stalwart Dick Miller, who appears in LSOH as a flower eating buddinski Burson Fouch. There is some great wriying in BOB as well especially the Beatnik poetry that opens the film. Another thing about LSOH, the wonderful Bunker Hill locations featured in the scenes outside Mushnick’s Flower Shop.

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“Bunker Hill is old town, lost town, shabby town, crook town.” Raymond Chandler.

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Chuck’s real life Grandmother,Myrtle Vail, played Seymour’s mother

Seymour Krelboyn’s rooming house is right out of Kiss Me Deadly, the scene where Seymour meets Leonora Clyde, the hooker, looks like it was shot at the top of Angel’s Flight.

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If you look closely you can see Seymour getting off an Angel’s Flight car.

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“My name is Leonora Clyde”. Mel Welles (Gravis Mushnick’s) real life wife, Meri Welles.

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Then Seymour runs by a bar on a corner at the top of a steep hill, the bar has glass brick windows and I’m sure it’s in either Act Of Violence or Cry Danger, I’ll check and see.

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It’s funny when I was a kid I loved certain movies and always tried to catch them on TV, LSOH, Kiss Me Deadly, The Indestructible Man, all shot on Bunker Hill! The neighborhood that got erased. Anyway give yourself a Halloween Treat and watch Little Shop of Horrors, check out Jack Nicholson’s appearence as the maschostic mortician. Crazy Man.

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Added Halloween Bonus – Color Still from Griffith and Corman’s Attack Of The Crab Monsters

Samuel Fuller’s Park Row

Written by Joe D on June 28th, 2013

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Finally! I have been waiting for a good copy of this film for a Loooong time. Masters Of Cinema has put out a beautiful presentation of this great film, Fuller’s personal favorite. I love newspaper movies and this is one of the finest examples of the genre. Right up there with Deadline U.S.A. another masterpiece. Fuller spent his own money to make this film and I for one am glad he did, he survived and the resulting work of art is immortal. I really admire artists, especially filmmakers who pay for their own projects and make something great! Francis Ford Coppola has been doing this for his past few films and I say “Bravo”. Fuller was a maverick when they’re weren’t any maverick’s, maybe Jean Pierre Melville but he was in France. He wanted to make this film and Darrel Zanuck said OK, in Technicolor, a musical comedy. “No” screamed Fuller. “The paper is grey, the ink is black, it has to be B&W!” “It won’t make a dime.” Zanuck sneered. Well maybe DZ was right but at least Fuller got to make his film his way and we get to enjoy it, thanks to Masters Of Cinema! There are some amazing tracking shots in this film, and long takes where the camera follows actors from one building, down the street to another building and the scene continues, really cool Orson Welles kind of stuff. It also reminds me of some of the classic Playhouse 90s, long takes , great scripts, great actors. Not an easy way to make a film, it takes vision and preparedness. But you should see it for yourself, Fuller grew up working on newspapers in NYC, they shaped him, this film is his love letter to the newspaper business that took a kid in off the street and turned him into a great storyteller. It’s especially poignant right now, with the state of the Press today, we need to cherish and protect our free press, the barrier between us and Fascism.

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Once I borrowed a VHS of this film from Quentin Tarantinio, I watched it but it suddenly stopped before the film was over! I checked the tape, it was a 60 minute VHS ! The movies 84 minutes! Thanks a lot! So now I have my own copy , he can borrow it from me if he wants.

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More Val Lewton!

Written by Joe D on July 9th, 2011

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As promised, I’m posting a scan of another article about the great Val Lewton. This one is from Liberty magazine back in 1946. This was just after Lewton left RKO for Paramount, where he would be morassed in political intrigue and backbiting. It was not a good move for Val. This article is  sort of an overview of the Horror film  genre with special emphasis on Lewton. By the way I just got another old film magazine with an article on Curse Of The Cat People and a remembrance by DeWitt Bodeen, writer of said film. I’ll post that one soon as well.

Here’s the linkLiberty Horrors

Robert Enrico’s An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

Written by Joe D on February 15th, 2011

I saw this film as a kid on The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling really dug it so he made it into an episode of his show, the only time he ever did such a thing. It was made as part of an omnibus film, Chickamauga, a film comprised of three short films based on the writings of Ambrose Bierce. I’ve never seen the other two parts of this film but I will track them down one day. An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge should be studied by young filmmakers, it offers many insights into economy of style, simplicity, artistry. It’s beautifully made, a study in tension and fantasy. And thanks to the miracle of Youtube you can see it as it was presented on The Twilight Zone oh those many years ago.

The Night Stalker, Michel Hugo

Written by Joe D on December 2nd, 2010

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Here’s a TV movie from the 70’s that is a classic. The Night Stalker is about a vampire in 70’s Vegas, how cool is that? The score by Robert Cobert is super funky, wah wah guitars, jazzy drums, just great, one of my personal favorites. Check out the free form jazz when the cops are fighting the vampire by the swimming pool, it’s like Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew! The film has some real talent attached, Darren McGavin stars as Kolchak, The lovely Carol Lynley appears as well. Not to mention Simon Oakland, Claude Akins, and the perennial favorites Ralph Meeker and Charles McGraw! And by Golly Elisha Cook, Jr. is in there too!

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The script is by the genius Richard Matheson. And the DP is a man I once took a cinematography class from , one Michel Hugo. A very nice French exile living here shooting TV movies, I looked him up and was sorry to see that he recently passed away. He had been teaching cinematography at a college in Vegas, the site of his greatest artistic triumph.

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R.I.P. Michel Hugo