Film Noir Collection Vol.4, Decoy

Written by Joe D on October 31st, 2007

title.jpg
Another gem from this wonderful noir collection.
sink.jpg
Decoy is a great little film, in a similar vein to Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour. Low budget but bursting at the seams with creativity, Decoy was recently re-discovered by a neighbor of mine, Bill Rush, who works at Warner Brothers. It hadn’t been seen since 1970 and it’s screening at the American Cinematheque Noir Program caused a sensation. Okay let’s begin at the beginning! A great weird opening! Close up on a battered, chipped porcelain sink, dirty hands come into frame, turn on hot water, steam blasts into the sink! Cold water will do, pan to a roll of paper towels suspended on a piece of twine, pan and tilt to a chunk of broken mirror revealing a disheveled zombie looking guy. We later find out he’s a dishonored doctor(Herbert Rudley).
doc-mirror.jpg

Is this a Zombie Movie or a Film Noir?

He exits the gas station rest room, stumbling like the undead, ignoring the cheerful good morning patter from the pump jockey, Hitching a ride into the city. He goes into a snazzy apartment building , followed closely but not close enough by Sheldon Leonard who plays Sgt. JoJo Portugal. By the way Leonard looks exactly like Mickey Cohen in this movie, his hat, his suit, his manner.
shel.jpg

Sheldon Leonard as Mickey Cohen…I mean, Sgt JoJo Portugal!
mc.jpg

Mickey Cohen as Mickey Cohen, The Mickster

Portugal follows the Zombie but misses the elevator. When he gets off at the 2nd floor he has his gun out but he puts it away upon hearing a shot fired in a nearby apartment. Portugal busts in, the maid is crying, the zombie is finally dead and lying mortally wounded is one of the most evil females ever captured on Celluloid. Margot Shelby (Jean Gillie)
miss-jean.jpg

Beautiful, Ruthless, Deadly

She tells Portugal the story in flashback, a story so heartless and calculating, it makes you question your sanity. Let’s get this straight right now, this film is out there, crazy!
flashabck.jpg

Let the Flashback Begin!

Margot wants money, she lives for the finer things, and she will do anything to get them, I mean anything! Her older beau is in stir, he killed a bank guard while stealing $400,000 and now he’s gonna get the big whiff! Cyanide gas up in Q.
prison.jpgShe’s playing with the old letch, Robert Armstrong ( He was Carl Denham in King Kong!)

Trouble is he hasn’t told Margot where he stashed the loot and he won’t tell her unless he gets out. She hatches a diabolical plan with the aid of a gangster named Jimmy Vincent. But there’s a catch Vincent wants her and half the money.
jimmy.jpg

Tough Guy Jimmy Vincent, just another sucker

She needs a doctor to help with her plan to spring her death row beau, Frank. They’re going to revive him after he’s pronounced dead! OK, this evil, amoral monster finds a dedicated doctor, he works in a poor neighborhood, he volunteers at a clinic. He cares about curing people not making money.
hair.jpg

Fetishistic Detail #1 The Nurse’s Hair

But our femme fatale seduces him, not only does she seduce him, he falls so in love with her he sacrifices his ideals, his career, his life, everything for her. As a matter of fact every man in this film falls for this icy goddess of evil! They all want her for themselves and this enables her to destroy them all. Frank gets the gas chamber, the scene is shot from his point of view and the audience watching the execution looks like people in a movie theater watching a film! Maybe the director was holding up a mirror to the audience as if to say” Look at yourselves, entertained by watching a man suffer and die!”.
pov.jpg

Mirror, Mirror

They steal Frank’s body and Dr. Craig brings him back to life.
revive.jpg

Elements Of A Horror Film

He draws a map of where the money is hidden and then they kill him! They brought the guy back to life and 5 minutes later they kill him! Insane!
strap.jpg

Fetishistic Detail #2- Jeweled Hands Strap A Dead Man’s Ankle To An Operating Table

They go to dig up the cash, along the way they stop for a quick bite and a drink. Dr. Craig gets drunk. Margot exits before the boys and let’s the air out of a tire. They drive a ways and it seems like they have a flat. Jimmy Vincent gets out to fix it and after he finishes, she runs him over! She’s not sharing the boodle with anyone! In the print shown at the Cinematheque she runs him over, backs up over him, then runs him over again! This is cut to just one run over in the DVD, too bad! She coldly takes the map and a gun from Jimmy’s dead body, gets back into the car where the doctor says ” I want to kill you!” She hands him the gun,but she has faith in her power over this yutz, he can’t do it!
kill-me.jpg

Even Though she destroyed his life, killed a man in front of him, and will soon kill him, he can’t kill her, he still loves her and she knows it!

Margot drives gleefully to the buried treasure burial spot, paces it off, and goes crazy with gold lust, scratching at the ground and shrieking for the doctor to get something to dig with. He comes up with a huge knife, he raises it over his head, it looks like he’s about to kill her, but he drops to the ground and begins digging like a madman.
kill2.jpg

It looks like he might kill her, but no! He drops to the ground and digs like a will-less puppet!

He hits paydirt in the form of a small trunk. Margot laughs and screams like a delighted Banshee, then she pumps several slugs into the doctor. She grabs the trunk and splits, hysterically laughing in ecstasy.
laughkill2.jpg

The Ecstasy Of Gold

This is where we came in, the doctor wasn’t dead, he made it back town on willpower and sheer hate, and blasted Margot with his last bit of strength. The flashback ends, JoJo the cop has placed Margot on a couch. She looks up at him, flutters her eyelids. “Do you love me, JoJo?” she whispers. Jojo stops, looks at her, he does love her! He moves in for a last kiss. She laughs in his face! Makes a fool out of a man with her dying breath!
end.jpg

She died as she lived, laughing at foolish Men

Jean Gille gives a tour de force performance. She is incredible. This movie was made at Monogram Pictures, a low budget outfit that cranked out Bowery Boys films and some of Bela Lugosi’s final films. But the cheapness of this production actually adds something to this film. A mysterious element of inevitability, like we’ve seen it before but there’s nothing we can do about it. Jack Bernhard’s direction is top notch. Excellent understated camera moves, scenes that play in one shot. Fetishistic details that add an eerie underlying atmosphere of a Horror movie, a cross genre fertilization. The lighting is great, all broken light with shadows of leaves, venetian blinds etc., real noir touches. I also liked the props and the clothes, rings, jewelry, all felt hand picked. Once again the low budget gave the filmmakers a freedom to explore dark depths, to shed light on idiosyncratic psychology, to show us something we hadn’t ever seen before. Jean Luc Godard was a big fan of this movie and Monogram Pictures in general. He even dedicated his first film Breathless to Monogram. So once again I heartily recommend the Warner Bros. Film Noir Classics Collection, Vol.4, every film in this set is great!

Professor Longhair, Zulu King Of New Orleans

Written by Joe D on October 29th, 2007

Here’s something in honor of our recent trip to New Orleans. Professor Longhair laying down one of his seminal hits, Tipitina.

Jean Pierre Melville, Le Deuxième souffle

Written by Joe D on October 27th, 2007

deuxieme_souffle.jpg

Good Luck trying to see this one! I was able to see it last night at the American Cinematheque aka The Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd. next door to the famous Pig & Whistle. It was great, such a treat to see a beautifully shot Black and White movie on a big screen.
amcin.jpg

The opening is a study in economy and atmosphere as three men make a break from a prison. The image is very dark and the setting stark, a few high walls, a watch tower with spotlight, some guards walking a narrow alley between the high walls. One of the three escapees dies in the attempt. The other two make it and after running through a deserted forest board a moving freight train. the older of the two almost doesn’t make it, he’s helped by the younger guy, who pulls him onto the moving train. Gus( Lino Ventura) lies there struggling to catch his breath and we feel for the man, getting older, on the run, with nothing in his pockets. Maybe this is illustrative of the title The Second Breath or second wind, where after being exhausted one gets a renewed burst of energy. Gus will soon put this energy to use but first we are plunged into a vortex of underworld connections, deals, murder, police procedures, and in the process we meet the rest of the players in this drama.

1966_der_zweite_atem1.jpg

Manouche with Inspector Blot

Manouche ( Christine Fabréga ) runs a chic Parisian restaurant, she is very concerned when she learns of Gus’s escape. Is she his girlfriend? An ex-lover? No, she is in fact his sister and their relationship is an intriguing and unique one.

foto02.jpg

The Great Melville!

In Melville by Rui Nogueria, Melville says that in French gangster slang “sister” is a term for girlfriend. I believe Manouche is really Gu’s sister but the implied incest adds a compelling dimension to their relationship and Melville says “If I’ve let it be understood that Manouche is Gu’s sister, it’s because of the Enfants Terribles part of me- or rather because of the great homonyms Pierre or the Ambiguities.”
book1.jpg

A Great Book, Rare these days!

We also meet Inspector Blot (Paul Meurisse) a wise and very human police chief. He comes across almost as a father figure trying to understand these criminals and guide them to justice rather than smash them to bloody bits. He respects their code of ethics, maybe even admires them. He first appears in a tour-de-force scene right after a murder, where he explains how each witness didn’t see anything. It’s a long, complicated scene with a lot of movement and it’s done in one take. Brilliant!

figures.jpg

Figures In A Landscape
caper1.jpg

Setting Up The Heist

There’s also a armored car heist, pulled off with calculated ruthlessness that includes the cold blooded assassination of two motorcycle cops. Brutal.
masks.jpg

These Masks will appear in Melville’s Masterpiece- Le Circle Rouge

And a torture scene, like something from Melville’s resistance film Army Of Shadows.
torture1.jpg

Give Him A Drink!

Except in this film it’s the French police doing the torturing. The censors didn’t like that so the scene fades out as the torture starts and fades in when it’s over. We have stills of the missing footage but can’t someone locate the original footage and restore it to the way Melville intended? It must exist somewhere, even just a workprint. It would be a wonderful addition to a great film.
iorture2.jpg

A Still From The Missing Scene

The end of the film has an element reminiscent of Out Of The Past. When Gu lies dying, his last word is “Manouche!”. Later when Manouche asks Inspector Blot if Gu said anything, he says “No”. Trying to free her from a hopeless obsession. Like the deaf boy in Out Of The Past telling Jeff’s girl Jeff wasn’t coming back for her but was running off with the other woman when he was killed. A beautiful touch, one of the greatest endings in Cinema. This film was made at Studio Jenner. Melville’s own film studio in Paris. Unfortunately it burned a few years later and I understand there is no trace of it left today. I don’t think that Rue Jenner even exists. What a shame.
lino1.jpg

Lino Ventura, He and Melville didn’t get along but they made great films together

Le Deuxième souffle has never been released here in the USA. It’s not available on DVD here (I think it is in France). I was fortunate enough to see it through the good graces of the excellent programmers at The American Cinematheque during their French Crime Series. See it if you can. And to those that don’t think much of this film I can only say, open your eyes, you’re missing the Cinematic Part.
melville2.jpg

Battle Of The Beignets

Written by Joe D on October 22nd, 2007

int-church.jpg

St. Alphonsus Deconsecrated Church, where Angel Heart was filmed

We’re back from the great City Of New Orleans! It is an amazing place and I encourage everybody to visit, some people go for Mardi Gras and never leave!
water-meter.jpg

The City is fueled by alcohol, music,sex, murder and beignets! I saw a sign on a building that said something like ” This is a government of LAW not of MEN.” Maybe the government is of law but the people are all passion. The law does not carry that much weight down there. I mean the police will arrest someone for committing a crime but that does not deter people from committing the crime.
quater-window-1.jpg

Shop Widow in The Quarter

The Ethos is a hot blooded one, a patois of Tchapitoulas Indian, African slave, French, Cajun, Creole and whatever else got tossed in the gumbo pot. “Iko, Iko” was an Indian war cry that the local musicians picked up on.
quater-window-2.jpg

This is New Orleans!

But don’t get me wrong, I love this city, the music, the cuisine, the bars, the buildings and the people. They are very friendly and willing to talk, it’s really refreshing.
central-grocery.jpg

Central Grocery- Home of the Muffaletta!

Everything there is pretty intense although usually in a laid back way. The tropical atmosphere, the lush plant life, the rain that can come and go 5 times in a day. It’s intoxicating. The wonderful smells of the city, they brought back memories of my childhood, aromas I haven’t come across in 30 years.
morning-call.jpg
int-mc.jpg

But down to business! Which Beignet is better? Cafe Du Monde VS. Morning Call! Beignets are kind of like archetypal donuts, like the zeppole that was sold at Italian street fairs or Feasts, that celebrated a Saint’s name day. They’re fried dough with powdered sugar and they’re good!
dumonde-beignets.jpg

3 A.M.- Cafe Du Monde Beignets

Cafe Du Monde is in the French Quarter, Morning Call was moved lock, stock and countertop to Metarie, just outside of NO. We tried both and they’re both great but Morning Call’s Beignets are lighter, fluffier and just better!
mcbeignets.jpg

Morning Call Beignets

The ones from Du Monde come covered in powdered sugar, at Morning call you have to powder them yourself with a shaker. But check them out for yourself on your next visit to New Orleans, I’ll be back there as soon as I can!
rampart-and-dumaine.jpg

I’ll Meet You On The Corner Of Rampart And Dumaine!

P.S. Our screening of One Night With You was great! We met some super cool people there who really dug the movie! That was the cherry on top of the NO sundae!

ali.jpg

Me with the beautiful Ali Duffy, the Festival’s Executive Director

Peter Brook, Lord Of The Flies

Written by Joe D on October 21st, 2007

brook.jpg

Peter Brook directs a young amateur

This masterpiece is another film I was exposed to at a young age through the auspices of The Million Dollar Movie. It had to be fairly soon after it was released theatrically (1961) I think I first saw it around 1963 or ‘64. It made an indelible impression on me, I can still remember vividly many scenes and I have not seen it since back then! I found a Life Magazine article about the making of the film and the images here are from that. crowd.jpg

Still Somewhat Civilized

A plane crash during a future nuclear war strands a group of English school boys on a deserted tropical island. All the adults are killed and the boys must fend for themselves. They start off by being democratic, electing a leader, setting up rules and regulations, it seems to be going well. There is an unforgettable image of a group of choirboys marching up the beach, single file, dressed in their choir robes singing a Latin hymn, Kyrie Eleision. This music is perfect, eerie and unsettling in this context. Needless to say as time passes and the school uniforms turn to rags the boys revert to primitive forms of existence. The choir boys become hunters and begin acting wild, like Pagans. They kill a wild boar, roast it, and devour it in an incredible scene. The eating of meat turns the boys even more wild, setting their bloodlust racing. They find a “monster” living on top of a nearby hill and begin worshipping it.
piggy.jpg

The boy playing Piggy had to keep stuffing himself between takes to remain big, he lost weight anyway

Eventually sacrificing a weak boy named Piggy. He is overweight and subject to much ridicule, the hunters take his glasses to start a fire thereby incapacitating him and finally they crush him with a huge rock, toppled from a sea cliff. It’s pretty horrible.
naked.jpg

As the clothes disappear so does the morality

My hat is off to Peter Brook, he took amateur boys, some as young as 7 years old to an island for 3 months and created this whole brave new world, it’s nothing short of a miracle. The images and performances are absolutely superb.leaf.jpg

Peter Brook, maestro of theater, hand picked these boys and engaged in a bit of make-believe, play infused with ritual, the basis of all theater, cinema, art. A raw and savage creation, bursting at the seams with vitality, life force, nature. tom.jpg

Ralph, the duly elected leader is hunted like an animal by the film’s end

Lord Of The Flies was based on a book by William Golding. The article tells of the book’s history. It’s fascinating. The book was first published in the USA in 1955. It was a flop, all but ignored. The filmmakers went into pre-production in 1959 before the 1959 Capricorn paperback was issued. This paperback edition became a college campus bestseller, usurping Catcher In The Rye. How did the producer’s know this would happen? They didn’t. Film is a commercial medium, to be a success without major stars, a film must catch a cultural wave and ride it to popularity. Maybe they sensed the spirit of change, of youthful rebellion in the air.
2-page-spread.jpg

College campuses were influenced by the Beats, the Summer Of Love was nearing. The Vietnam War was heating up. Lewis Allen, Peter Brook and William Golding were in the right place at the right time. Below is a video someone posted on YouTube, It has music by Erik Satie and images from the film. Check it out, you’ll feel the primordial power of this film. Then rent it or buy it, but see it.

Mark Boone Junior, 30 Days Of Night

Written by Joe D on October 17th, 2007

30days-night-_24.jpg

Mark Boone Junior Kicks Vampire Ass!

Mark Boone Junior is getting rave reviews for his performance in 30 Days of Night but don’t take my word for it, read the quotes below. Maybe somebody in Hollywood will catch on and offer him a lead role, wait a minute! I already did! He’s the star of my film One Night With You, and I predict many more to come.

FROM SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE:
“While Danny Huston is appropriately creepy and menacing as the vampire leader, the standout performance once again comes from Mark Boone Junior, who plays a fearless town outcast who does the best construction equipment beat-down since Sigourney Weaver climbed in that “Aliens” forklift robot thing.”

FROM CINEMATICAL.COM:
“What could be better than Mark Boone Junior driving around in some kind of chainsaw-esque tractor, slicing through multiple baddies while simultaneously blowing away others with a shotgun? Exactly. Nothing could be better. In fact, I think I like this scene better than that sequence in Dawn of the Dead where they’re driving the modified bus around. But that partially has to do with my appreciation for Mark Boone Junior. He just looks like the perfect guy to be in charge of a task like this.”

FROM PULPSECRET.COM:
“In particular, Mark Boone Junior is great as Beau, creating a character that has excellent moments of both humor and pathos.”

FROM LATINOREVIEW.COM
“Although the film is supposed to be a vehicle for Hartnett, he isn’t the leading man you want to root for. Mark Boone Junior, best known as corrupt cop Flass in “Batman Begins” gives a great supporting performance as a grizzled townsman who fearlessly takes on the entire Vampire clan with a snow plow equipped with, flares, dynamite and bear traps. He has a full beard unlike Hartnett who barely grows peach fuzz after not shaving for a month.”

From 411Mania.com:
“The best character in the movie is town recluse and snow plow driver Beau Brower, played by the always cool Mark Boone Junior. His character’s back story is interesting, he’s got plenty of screen charisma, he can act and make you care about him, and he gets three great scenes kicking vampire butt. Why isn’t the movie about him? Why isn’t he able to redeem his death fighting vampires in “John Carpenter’s Vampires”?”

From Epinions.com:
The supporting cast is very nice with my favourite being the amazing Mark Boone Junior (Memento, Batman Begins) playing the stereotypical bad mutha effa who lives on the outskirts of town as a live-for-nothing drifter man’s man.

From SaveAngel.org:
“Mountain man Beau (an awesome Mark Boone Junior) embodies the strange stock that would choose to live somewhere like that…”

From TV Guide.com:
“Mark Boone Jr. makes a vivid impression as eccentric loner Beau Brower…”

What are you waiting for? Go see Boone in 30 Days Of Night and send fan mail to the studio demanding he star in the sequel!

Casamento’s, Pal’s Lounge

Written by Joe D on October 16th, 2007

934006598_l.jpg

Hey Y’all! We’re having a great time down here in N’Awlins, where the people are friendly, the food is killer, the music is inspiring and the scents, sights, and flavors of living are intoxicating! We went and met our friends, Skip and Mark over at Pal’s Lounge. The quintessential corner bar! It is a place you dream about having in your neighborhood. If you go to New Orleans, Go there! Check it out get a T- shirt or a hooded sweat shirt! I did and it is super cool! Then head over to Casamento’s , Skip took us there. It’s an old joint run by a family.
casamento.jpg

While we were waiting out front a nice guy introduced himself and invited us in! His name is Mike and he’s the 5 time Champion oyster shucker of New Orleans! A super guy!
mike.jpg

Mike, King of New Orleans Oyster Shuckers!

We had raw oyster, fried crab claws and an oyster Po’Boy. Man, that was good!
crabclaws.jpg

Damn! That was Good!

So if you find yourself down here in New Orleans here’s a night on the town, pre-designed, just add yourself, Pal’s for cocktails and Casamento’s for dinner. Then head over to One-Eyed Jack’s and tell Rio, Joe sent ya!

Raoul Walsh, James Cagney, White Heat

Written by Joe D on October 15th, 2007

titloe1jpg.jpg

From the first frame of this movie you know you’re in for quite a ride, A big 40’s car hurtling through the desert night, filmed in such a way that you think it’s going to come flying off the screen into your lap.

white_heat_buick_1.jpg

This movie is so well directed. Raoul Walsh effortlessly takes us on an epic adventure, train robbery, prison, escape from prison,etc. It seems like so many short scenes flowing into another, fast paced full of action, tons of details, at the prison , the machine shop and mess hall all play a role in the story.
3239561.jpg

Raoul Walsh lost his eye when a jack rabbit jumped in front of his speeding car

The high tech crime fighting tricks of the G men, radio co-ordinating, these scenes remind me of Fritz Lang’s M , where he shows the technology of the police opposed to the tricks of the criminals. Walsh was a master of this fast paced action storytelling. Check out Gentleman Jim starring Errol Flynn. The scenes fly by like scenery outside a train window. Walsh was a master filmmaker. He had a lion for a house cat.

library_walsh.jpg

Raoul and his cat

I read Walsh’s autobiography, it’s very good.I found out we both went to the same prep school (Seton Hall). He gives a lot of credit to James Cagney for his portrayal of Cody Jarrett. When Cagney sits on his mother’s lap and when he kicks Virginia Mayo off a chair and a lot of other great bits were all Cagney’s creation, according to Walsh.
0969_0022.jpg

Can you shorten the sleeves a little?

This is subversive filmmaking of the highest order! Walsh and Cagney show Cody Jarrett as a psycho killer, merciless to his enemies, able to coolly blast a guy trapped in the trunk of a car, while eating a chicken leg and making a joke! “I’ll give you some air!” Blam, Blam, Blam ,Blam!!! Great!

white_heat.jpg

Cagney grabs a Rat, I mean Edmund O’Brien

The feds are seen as hard working, tireless, prosecutors of criminals but Walsh has the head fed using a long cigarette holder, an effeminate if not depraved prop. Is this a dig at J. Edgar Hoover? The cross dressing tyrant of FBI fame? Later the Fed has his arm in a sling, is he less of a man? And what about undercover rat Edmund O’Brien? Infiltrating criminal gangs by pretending to be a loyal pal, a “kid brother” to Jarrett and others. Watch the way O’Brien escapes from the surrounded payroll office during the climactic end sequence. He runs out under the cover of tear gas and literally slithers on his belly like a snake or a worm to get through a narrow gap in some pipes and into the safe arms of his fed friends.
sjff_01_img05324.jpg

Come and get me ,copper!

Then he uses his sharpshooter skills to pump several bullets into Jarrett, who’s laughing his head off. “What’s holding him up!” O’Brien asks as he fires another round into his erstwhile friend. But Jarrett is buoyed up by his love for his mother, he’s finally fulfilled her lifelong prophecy, he’s made it to the top. “Top O’ The World, Ma!!” He yells triumphantly and he sees her watching him proudly, her eyes shining with admiration and love for a son only she can love, the flames of Cody’s immanent annihilation reflecting from those eyes that represent the whole world and everything in it to him.
whiteheat2as4.jpg

The End of The Hollywood Gangster Icon

New Orleans Film Festival

Written by Joe D on October 13th, 2007

noffopeningparty.jpg

opening Night Party!

Hey Y’all! Film Forno is here at the 18th annual New Orleans Film Festival! We’re having a great time thanks to all the nice people of the beautiful city of New Orleans. Everybody is so accommodating, they take the time to talk to you and are friendly as can be. We went to the opening night party and were blown away by Big Sam and the Funk Nation, a super band.

Big Sam and The Funk Nation with Charmaine Neville

They were joined by some incredible guests Ivan Neville, Theresa Anderson, and Charmaine Neville. They rocked the house. I felt the Spirit of the Wild Tchopitoulas rising through the floor of the nightclub!
cafedumondeclosing.jpg
cafedumondetakeout.jpg

Late Night Beignets at The Cafe Du Monde

We saw Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show last night and Mr. Vaughn was there and did a Q&A after with his producer Peter Billingsly ( He played Ralphie in Jean Shepherd’s classic A Christmas Story, directed by the late Bob Clark). Later we all went to One-Eyed Jacks, a crazy bar in the French Quarter, where they were projecting One-Eyed Jacks, Marlon Brando’s directorial debut and swan song.
oneeyedjack.jpg

One-Eyed Jacks Logo
It’s all one big party here in N’Awlins, so come on down, the festival continues through next Thursday. Our film One Night With You is screening Weds. night the 17tha at 9:15 pm at the Contemporary Arts Center. Check it out and Let The Bon Temps Rolle!

The H-Man, Ishiro Honda

Written by Joe D on October 11th, 2007

mz32.jpg

Ishiro Honda cops a feel off a Mysterian

Ishiro Honda created some of the most memorable images of my childhood. Rodan is an amazingly made film. Every shot looks like it was designed in the camera and the flashback sequence is one of the most powerful in Cinema. It’s an operatic monster movie. Ishiro was good friends with mega-director Akira Kurosawa and he directed 2nd unit on some of his epic battle scenes.

liquid_people_01.jpg

Look what a little radiation can do

The H-Man is another cool movie.I was lucky enough to see it projected in Technicolor at Film Forum in NYC, let me tell you, that is the way to see that film! The eye popping color and design. Delicious!. It has an incredible sexiness to it. The gangsters, their babes, the nightclub complete with Japanese Jazz and wild dance numbers. The super slick clothes everyone wears and the monster.

200px-h-man_1958.jpg

It’s a radioactive slime that slithers through storm sewers and dissolves people leaving only their clothes piled in a heap where they were taken. At one point a gangster kidnaps a woman and takes her into the sewer, he makes her strip and he gets naked so the police can find their clothes and think they were dissolvd into the collective radioactive slime that is The H-Man .

hman.jpg

Slime in the Sewer
It slithers into the nightclub office during a rain storm and threatens a performer. Sometimes it assumes a humanoid shape, rearing up on two gelatinous legs maybe some kind of sense memory of when it was a human. The best sequence of the film takes place on an abandoned ship. A trawler finds a ship adrift at sea, the crew board the ghost ship and look for survivors but they can’t find anyone. Unfortunately for them they find The H-Man.

200px-h-man_us.jpg

AKA- Beauty and The Liquid People
So open up a bottle of Nigori unfiltered Sake and checkout The H-Man, just remember you need someone to pour your Sake for you and you do the same for them, otherwise Bad Luck and you could wind up slithering in a sewer.

R.I.P. Bud Ekins

Written by Joe D on October 9th, 2007

1mmd.jpg

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.

sorcerer_mca10842a-706761.jpg

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.

hell.jpg

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.
1957-bud-ekins-big-bear-wi.jpg

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!”

Wine, Good!

Written by Joe D on October 5th, 2007

frankenstein.jpg

Thus spake Frankenstein after learning from the blind man about the finer things in life. I agree, not only do I agree but I go one step further, I make wine! My wife and I have a small vineyard next door to our house. We grow Syrah, We turn it into wine.
winepress.jpg

No, we don’t use our feet!

You can hear all about it tomorrow (Saturday) at noon and Sunday at 8pm on the KPCC, 89.3 FM show Off-Ramp (you can stream the show live from http://www.scpr.org or download the podcast from their website after the first airing). Here at Film Forno we love film but we love wine and food as well! And we’ll be writing all about it in future posts. So stay tuned in! Drink wine, watch movies, enjoy life!
joe-grape.jpg

The little Old Winemaker, Me

Check it out! The wonderful folks over at KPCC put up a video promo of the show!