Jack Nicholson, James Hong, Jere Huggins, The Two Jakes

Written by Joe D on November 5th, 2007


They’re releasing a new DVD of Jack Nicholson’s directorial effort The Two Jakes. I always liked this movie, maybe I’m a sucker for anything set in 1940’s/50’s L.A. but I enjoyed it when it came out and thought it was unfairly condemned by critics. Sure it’s not Chinatown but what is? Only Chinatown! There are a lot of cool elements to this film, the locations (the Dresden Room!),

Are Marty and Elaine Still There?

the actors,( James Hong reprising his role as the faithful Manservant Kahn),

Jack & James, Hey! Wasn’t that guy in One Night With You!

the kind of overall melancholic atmosphere set against the boom town oil/real estate bonanza that was Los Angeles. I even like Van Dyke Parks music. I once had lunch with him and my old pal Bud Smith at Musso & Frank’s. He is a very funny guy!

But let me get on to Part II of my tale. Jere Huggins is an old friend. He’s an editor, he worked on Woodstock and a lot of other films. He worked with Robert Towne on Personal Best and was hired to edit The Two Jakes when Towne was going to direct and the two Jakes were to be Nicolson and Robert Evans. Jere was even going to play a small part in the film. He looks like a guy from the ’40’s tall, all American, a little Clint Eastwoodian. So Jere goes to work on the first day of shooting, he gets his period costume goes to the set, nothing happens, finally they call lunch. The caterers serve steak and lobster. After lunch they call a wrap for the day. Jere goes home, he gets a call, the film is cancelled! I guess Towne would not proceed with Evans playing the other Jake. So the film languished in turnaround for a while until they hashed out a compromise- Evans doesn’t act, Towne doesn’t direct. Jack does and Harvey Keitel plays the other Jake. And Jere Huggins doesn’t get to edit or play a bit part. That’s Hollywood!

I knew this re-release was in the pipeline a while ago, I know the brother of the colorist who did the new transfer for this DVD, he said Nicholson was supervising the color correcting himself so I figured it was for something big. I haven’t seen The Two Jakes for a long time, so I’m looking forward to this new release, why don’t they make a new print as well and show it in the theaters too! Hey Jack, my friends over at Triage Motion Picture Services will give you a great deal! But seriously, I love the attention to detail in this movie, I think it’s Nicholson’s directorial masterwork. You can tell he took this story to heart and gave it his all. It shows in every frame. I especially like the ending , it’s emotional tone is unique in Cinema. It expresses loss in a rare human way for such a larger than life character. There’s a third screenplay Towne wrote called Cloverleaf. The unproduced third act of the Jake Gittes Trilogy. I hope they make it soon.

Two Jakes Trailer

Alessandro Alessandroni, Super Genius

Written by Joe D on November 4th, 2007



Here’s a clip of Alessandro Alessandroni performing in Italy. Once you hear the music you’ll know who he is. One of the Unsung Heroes Of Italian Soundtracks. He plays that great gigantic Electric guitar on the Leone/Morricone Westerns. He also whistles, plays ocarina, sitar, mandolin, etc. etc. He had a vocal group called I Cantori Moderni and they did all the chorus singing on these soundtracks as well. Thanks to Daniele Luppi I was fortunate enough to meet this great man, so humble and unassuming, and get him to perform on the soundtrack of my film One Night With You. I can never thank him enough.

And here’s the opening credits to Sette uomini d’oro(Seven Golden Men), check out I Cantori Moderni’s super jazzy singing!

Comment Snafu

Written by Joe D on November 4th, 2007


It must be some kind of conspiracy!

My new spam filter has deleted all comments sent in the past few days so if you commented but didn’t see it, please resubmit. Thanks and sorry about that.

Bob Dylan, Murray Lerner, The Other Side Of The Mirror

Written by Joe D on November 2nd, 2007


I went to the American Cinematheque to see Murray Lerner’s filmThe Other Side Of The Mirror. It’s a film about Bob Dylan. It was shot at The Newport Folk Festival in 1963, 1964,& 1965 and it shows how Dylan changed over that time period.

He starts off as a young folksinger. Singing songs about oppression , social iniquity, racism and other divisive techniques used by politicians. Anti-War songs, beautiful stuff. He does one of my favorite early Dylan songs, The Chimes Of Freedom Flashing.

If you’re a Dylan fan I recommend this film. But gradually Bob changes, he becomes more of a Media figure, more of an icon. His music becomes more abstract, more personal, more about himself in a way and less about oppressed people.

Finally in 1965 he performs with an electric band, Mike Bloomfield on guitar, Al Kooper on Organ, Sam Lay on Drums. The crowd boos him!

They were upset that he was playing amplified music, they wanted Mr. Tambourine Man. But I have to say watching the film this time, I agreed with them! Seeing that young Bob Dylan, so pure, so talented, just him, his guitar, his voice, his lyrics, entertaining thousands of people, singing about inequality, about people being the pawns of government, about life in a mining town, was so moving and inspiring. Especially today when such voices are not allowed to be heard.

Then seeing him with his rock band, Bleah! Commercialism, Sell Out! It just wasn’t as good! In 1963 he looked like an androgynous Pixie. his hair piled on top of his head, his skinny face, he was like Snap, Crackle, & Pop, a magical figure, not of this earth. Then suddenly he’s Lou Reed’s cousin, playing with junkie geniuses, down in the mud of existence. No wonder they booed. Lerner interviews some very young fans and they said ” Who needs Dylan anymore. He’s here, part of the establishment” He rode the folk scene until he was big enough to become an icon, a God not a human. He went to the other side of the mirror.

Joan Baez sings with you know who

A very young Johnny Cash appears in this film and comments on what a great songwriter Dylan is, and performs a song. Very Cool!

Murray Lerner makes a profound statement about the nature of fame, Art, Perception, and human frailty.

And he makes it in a deceptively simple way. That’s what makes it so powerful. It took Murray 44 years to get this film released. Bravo for not giving up.


Keith Robinson & Murray Lerner, two veterans of 630 9th Avenue, The Film Center Building

Like I said if you’re a Dylan fan, check it out. If you don’t know anything about Dylan it’s still worth seeing, you may learn something about the culture of those days and about the incredible music Mr. Dylan was making then.