Pull My Daisy

Written by Joe D on August 24th, 2020

 

Here is the Beat Film to end all Beat Films, written and narrated by Kerouac, directed by Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie. It gives you a view into the Art Life of 50s NYC. I lived there in the late 70’s. It was pretty similar. I remember being at Guffanti Film Lab and seeing this film, they were making a print for Marty Scorsese. I think this film was a big influence on him. This version has Italian subtitles so you can practice your Italiano.

Silent Hollywood

Written by Joe D on May 16th, 2020

Here is a great BBC produced series about the early days of the Movie Business and how it wound up in Hollywood USA. Great interviews with the real Silent Movie people done back in the late 60’s I’d guess. Narrated by the great James Mason who in real life bought Buster Keaton’s old house and lived there for a while. Anyway it’s a great series chock full of amazing information and fascinating characters. Check it out!

 

Wanda

Written by Joe D on June 8th, 2019

Here is the trailer from a cool independent film made by Barbara Loden in 1970. An amazing film, sort of a feminist Cassavettes trip. Great acting and an incredibly tense bank robbery made on a shoestring budget. Impressive. At one point Wanda the main character goes to a Spanish language movie theater and there is a poster for a film I love, The Brainiac, a Mexican Horror Film. Also you see billboards for TastyKakes, an East Coast delicacy of my childhood. Watch this film and be prepared to be blown away. Actually this is the whole film with Portuguese subtitles.

The Tree of Wooden Clogs

Written by Joe D on January 7th, 2019

The Genius Of Cinema-Ermanno Olmi

 

I saw this when it was released in 1978 with my best pal Frank G. Host. We talked about it for a long time. It is a masterpiece! One of the best films ever made! Made by a true genius of Cinema, Ormano Olmi. He wrote, photographed , directed , and edited it. Damn! And all for a very small budget with non actors! Be inspired filmmakers of the future! See the Power of Cinema!

Bukowski! Taylor Hackford documentary

Written by Joe D on December 15th, 2018

BUK VS. HACK

 

Here is in my opinion of course, Taylor Hackford’s best film. A 1973 documentary on the legendary Charles Bukowski, patron saint of the dive bars, library stacks, post offices and racetracks of Los Angeles. I saw this film years ago and it was very hard to find for a long time but now thanks to the wondrous miracle of YouTube , here ’tis. Check it out amigos, borrachos!

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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downtown.jpgThere is a great wild man jazz sequence that has frenetic performances of Black Jazz musicians that is outstanding. I love musical sequences and this one is a doozy.
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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.