Italian Crime Double Bill at The Egyptian!

Written by Joe D on July 21st, 2008

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Come one, come all to the Egyptian Theater this Thursday July 24th at 7:30 pm. It’s the Grand Finale of their Italian Grindhouse Festival. First up Sergio Sollima’ Citta Violenta ( USA Violent City). starring Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland and Kojack himself, Telly Savalas! A great score by Maestro Morricone and incredible stunt driving in tiny Fiats by the master of all Euro stunt drivers, Rémy Julienne, also editing by the great Nino Baragli! Then they’re showing, Fernando DiLeo’s masterpiece Milano Calibro 9. Great Score by Luis Bacalov and the rock band Osanna! Check them out , I’ll try to make it if I can. Here’s the trailer for Citta Violenta!

P.S. Here’s the wonderful Barbara Bouchet dance scene from Blood and Diamonds but she does a very similar dance in Milano Calibro 9!

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.
budekn.jpgMr. Triumph

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!”

Bullitt, Peter Yates, Pablo Ferro, Steve McQueen, Bill Hickman, Bud Ekins, Bruce Lee

Written by Joe D on August 5th, 2007

Here’s the title sequence from Bullitt. It was done by, guess who, the amazing Pablo Ferro. Steve McQueen saw a Peter Yates film called The Great Train Robbery and hired Peter for this movie. McQueen knew Pablo’s work and hired him for the credits. It’s a super cool credit sequence. Check it out.

Peter Yates told me that when they shot the finale to the great car chase, where the bad guys crash into a gas station and get blown to Kingdom Come, they had 5 cameras shooting it. At the last minute they decided to put one more camera in a cement filled industrial drum in the station, in harm’s way. Well as usual with a big pyrotechnic rig something went wrong. A stunt driver was towing the bad guys car with a cable and was to release it just before the gas station. The car was supposed to hit the gas pumps and a pyro guy was to hit the button blowing everything sky high. The car was released a little prematurely, the pyro guy hit the button, everything went KA-BOOM, but you could clearly see the gas station exploding before the car hit the pumps, they cursed their luck, thinking of what a drag it would be to rebuild the station. The next day at dailies, lo and behold, the footage from the camera added at the last minute, the one in the cement filled drum looked great, you couldn’t tell everything blew up too soon and that is the shot used in the final movie!

Good Luck Trying to Remake This Chase

The great stunt driver Bill Hickman drove the Mopar chase car, he was a driver for James Dean’s race team and was driving the station wagon follow car when Dean was killed. Hickman also did the car chase in The French Connection, another classic. Bud Ekins did the motorcycle stunt in Bullitt, sliding on the highway, he also did the motorcycle jump in The Great Escape and drove the truck on the rope suspension bridge in Friedkin’s Sorcerer. Bud was a good friend of Steve McQueen’s.
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McQueen at the wheel of his killer Mustang

Recently McQueen’s first wife re-released a book she wrote about him. In it she says (and I agree) “Steve was like a wild animal” his screen presence always reminded me of footage of an animal in the jungle. The actor who I think was most like a wild animal though, would have to be the great Bruce Lee. He’s like a Cheetah or a leopard when he strikes and I think this phenomenon has a lot to do with both actors undying popularity.

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Lee driving a Shelby Cobra