I Walked With A Zombie to screen at LACMA

Written by Joe D on December 6th, 2010

Treat yourself to a Holiday Zombie Afternoon. Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur’s classic I Walked With A Zombie will screen Tuesday Dec.7th at 1pm, how delicious an afternoon screening! When you come back from your trip to Zombie Island it will still be light outside, be like Woody Allen, share his guilty pleasure of seeing a movie in the daytime. Plus it’s a rare opportunity to see this gem in glorious 35mm B&W! Movie theaters are turning more and more to digital projection soon you’ll only be able to see film at museums and revival houses, Bah! Humbug!

I want to see it in 35mm!

Here’s all the info. This is a great example of how Art Directors Albert S. D’Agostino and Walter Keller were able to create a poetic mystical world on a shoe string budget, ably abetted by Cinematographer J. Roy Hunt. So check it out, see for yourself what all the hubbub about Val Lewton and his gang of tricksters is about. Too Bad the Tiki Ti is closed or we could all meet there for a post screening Zombie.


Food Party!

Written by Joe D on May 17th, 2010

I love food, I love to party, I love Food Party.

Sweet Smell Of Success & The Lost New York

Written by Joe D on September 1st, 2008

SSOS just showed on TCM as part of a Tony Curtis retrospective.

Sidney Falco on the threshold of Success, the entrance to “21”

This time it really brought back memories of Lost New York. Some of the spots are still there but they’re not the same. First off, this is an incredible movie. Great classic performances out of Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. Great dialog, “Match me Sidney.” ” I’d hate to take a bite out of you, you’re a cookie full of arsenic.”

One of Burt’s Greatest Roles
There’s more quipping in this movie than any other that I can think of. ” Here’s your head, what’s your hurry.” It does not stop. James Wong Howe’s cinematography is amazing, they went for a reverse, long lenses to shoot long shots, exteriors of NYC stacked up in a telephoto lens, wide angle lenses for close ups, distorting, paranoid, powerful images of the characters and this technique works incredibly well. The characters jump off the screen at you with all the dynamism of a Steve Ditko comic.

Pure Genius!
The environs of New York never looked better. Great locations! Shots of a bygone NYC. There’s a scene at A Times Square hot dog stand, you can picture Jack Kerouac walking in. It reminds me of Papaya King, a stand I used to frequent. Two dogs and a papaya drink for $1.50! That was a deal!

Time Travel via HotDog Stand!

Hey Kerouac! Pass The Mustard!
All that stuff in midtown, the 40’s and 50’s , the “21” club, the Ed Sullivan Theater, the crummy offices, the streets, J.J.(Burt Lancaster) lives in the Brill Building, 1619 Broadway. I used to work there, there were a lot of editing rooms in that building. Saturday Night Live had offices there, I once had a run in with a belligerent John Belushi on the service elevator.

Sidney in the lobby of The Brill Building, 1600 Bway was right across the street
Reverse on the Brill lobby. This was it, Tin Pan Alley!

Across the street was 1600 Broadway, the National Screen Services Building. They had a ton of cutting rooms in there as well and it was one of the last buildings in the city to have elevator operators! Next door was the Rincon Argentina, a great restaurant, full of editors at lunch time, half a chicken, french fries, salad for $3.59, plus a demi boutee of house red for a buck! Those were the days. So to see J.J. and Sidney cruising my old neighborhoods blew me away. I worked up the street at my friend’s company “CineHaven”, 254 W.54th street. Rumor had it that Marlon Brando and Wally Cox were roommates there in the 50’s.

I used to work (and crash) right up the street!

Just up the street from Studio 54 and Trans Audio , a mixing studio with a lot of cutting rooms. But back to SSOS, the bar that Martin Milner plays at when Sidney sets him up, I think it’s by the old West Side Highway, the location is so cool, Sidney up on the overpass signaling Kello the bad cop to get Martin. Incredible!

West Side Highway Location?

Evil Cop Harry Kello beats up Jazz Guitarist Martin Milner
Life imitates Art, Miles Davis was beaten up by a cop on 52nd Street while standing outside a gig

The great Chico Hamilton Quintet appears in the film and they are excellent. Great score by Elmer Bernstein, great screenplay by Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets, great direction by Alexander Mackendrick.
Chico Hamilton on drums, the guy on cello is Fred Katz, he wrote the super cool score for Roger Corman’s Little Shop Of Horrors!

Great characters, supposedly J.J. was based on Walter Winchell, the influential columnist. It’s an interesting character, he wraps himself up in the flag spouting a lot of rhetoric about patriotism, all the while spewing vitriol on everyone he doesn’t like, and if anyone complains, they’re un-American! A petty tyrant whose motivations are his personal vendettas and small minded attacks pretending that he’s doing it for the good of his “60 million readers”. I think this is a very timely character, as relevant now as back then, even more so. We’ve got a J.J. Hunsecker in the White House, only without the witty quips. The movie introduces the wonderful Susan Harrison, what happened to her?

If you want to get a feel for that old lost New York check out this guy, Jean Shepherd. He had a late nite radio show broadcast from NYC, I’d listen to him when I was a kid. Sometimes he talks about NYC and it doesn’t get any better than this. He also wrote the Christmas Story film. Here’s a link to some of his shows. Here it is : Jean Shepherd Shows
flatiron.jpgI used to live around the corner from the Flatiron Building, an early structural steel building in NYC courtesy of Chicago architect Daniel Burnham

New video store downtown-Old Bank DVD

Written by Joe D on January 8th, 2008


What a Deal!

My pal Mark Boone Junior turned me on to a great DVD store, Old Bank DVD. It’s down on 4th and Main and it has a great selection of films to check out. I’ve been in need of a new place to rent stuff since Jerry’s video closed a few months back. It’s next door to a great little cafe where they make excellent coffee, have an impressive selection of wines by the glass, and make a mean panini. The Banquette Cafe, very nice. But check out what I got at Old Bank DVD, 3 dvds for $10, on a table by the front door are some on sale specials from an Art Walk or something. I got Hercules Unchained, Italian peplum starring Steve Reeves and photographed by the great Mario Bava, Crime Boss, directed by Alberto DeMartino and starring Telly Savalas, and Deep Red by the master of Italian horror, Dario Argento! What a deal! I haven’t watched them yet so I can’t speak for the quality but still, $3 and 33 cents each! Score! I was talking about Bava to the guy running the place and two other guys asked if I liked Bava. They turned out to be filmmakers from Italy and we had a great conversation about Italian film, Cinecitta, and Bud Spencer! How cool is that! I’ve found my new video spot, I can get there on my scooter in 10 minutes and pick up a DVD. So head down to 4th and Main across from The Barclay Hotel, have a glass of wine and check out the excellent selection at Old Bank DVD. I’ll post some photos soon.

Battle Of The Beignets

Written by Joe D on October 22nd, 2007


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!

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.

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.

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- 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.

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!

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!

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!

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!


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

Casamento’s, Pal’s Lounge

Written by Joe D on October 16th, 2007


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.

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, King of New Orleans Oyster Shuckers!

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

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!

Wine, Good!

Written by Joe D on October 5th, 2007


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.

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!

The little Old Winemaker, Me

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