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Title: FILM FORNO 12
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Rank:Diamond Member

Status: RULER OF FIVE GALAXIES AND BOSS OF TV REMOTE
Score: 1763
Posts: 1763
From: Canada
Registered: 12/06/2008

(Date Posted:07/04/2010 8:33 PM)
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SALTO

Written by Joe D on May 6th, 2010

A black leather jacketed, sunglass wearing amnesiac Beatnik Jesus shows up in a small town in post WWII Poland and turns on the townsfolk with miracles and music. Novelist/filmmaker Tadeusz Konwicki conjurs up Salto from his novel A Dreambook for our Time. It expresses the inexpressible remarkably. Once again the proto Beatnik figure is seen as a semi Messiah, as in Cocteau’s Orphee. This was the psychic build up to the creative explosion of the 60’s. But just watch this clip, I dare you not to be impressed.

Furio Scarpelli, Screenwriter of Leone’s Classic The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly dies at 90 in Rome

Written by Joe D on April 29th, 2010

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Furio at his Olivetti

Arch Stanton, Bill Carson, Tuco Ramirez, Angel Eyes, Blondie, these are the names that only a lover of Westerns and Classic American Cinema could come up with and bring to life in a magnificent screenplay. An epic sweeping tale of Greed in the American West,our Holy Three search for Treasure, Buried Gold, and nothing, not a Prisoner Of War camp, a raging battle for a meaningless bridge, the burning sands of an impassable desert, nothing can stop them in their quest. One of the writers of THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE! has passed on. The Titans of Cinema await you Furio Scarpelli. they will take you by the hand and lead you to Paradise! Requiescat In Pace!

The Blue Dahlia Redux

Written by Joe D on March 9th, 2010

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The idiotic “Shoot the match and prove you didn’t kill my wife” Scene, although it looks like a cigarette, which is what’s written in the script but was changed to a match during filming, probably re-infuriating Raymond Chandler!

I got the published screenplay to Raymond Chandler’s The Blue Dahlia. It has an introduction by the producer John Houseman. Houseman tells the story of Chandler needing to get drunk to finish the film after a secret meeting with the head of production who offered R.C. a $5000 bonus to get the script done. Houseman claims that Chandler was blocked, that George Marshall had shot almost all the pages written, 93 or so, and that the attempted bribe by the studio head had so insulted and enraged Chandler that he wanted to quit. But rather than let a fellow veteran of the English public school system down, Chandler heroically opted to sacrafice his health by consuming vast quantities of alcohol which he assured Houseman would enable him to finish. Now there are a few points worth mentioning, the script was almost complete, Chandler had begun work on The Blue Dahlia as a novel, and we know from his correspondence that he had an ending in mind all along, that Buzz (William Bendix) the steel plate in the head veteran was the killer. The Navy objected to this most strenuously and Paramount agreed to change the ending. Houseman does not mention this fact in his introduction. So this is what I think happened, Chandler finished the script as he planned, with Buzz as the killer, the Navy objected, Chandler was called in to a meeting with the studio head, Mr. Head told Raymond to change his ending and offered him $5000 to make it go down easier. Chandler flipped out, he hated the movie business and couldn’t stand anyone telling him what to write. Chandler went to Houseman and threatened to quit. Then R.C. went home and thought it over, “I’ll write their crap ending but on my terms. ” He made his list of demands, he got to work at home, drunk, with round-the clock secretaries he could chase around, and limos waiting at his beck and call and a doctor on call to take care of him. He had to anesthetize himself to write that idiotic scene where Buzz shoots a match in Johnny’s hand to show he wasn’t the killer and then the captain tricks Dad the house detective into giving himself away. Oh Brother! I think Chandler hated that character,( the house dick) he has all the abuse in the movie heaped on him. Houseman acts as if this was the great ending Chandler came up with at the last minute, that Chandler didn’t have an ending in mind at all which we now know is untrue. So that’s my take on why old R.C. needed to get loaded to finish the script. Another point was revealed in Houseman’s intro. During a fight scene a heavy oak table fell on Don Costello’s toe and broke it. Director George Marshall staged the rest of the scene so Costello didn’t have to walk around, he fights Alan Ladd but on the floor. It was brilliant! A great example of taking an accident that could have shut down production and making something better out of it. Marshall really rose to the challenge and elevated the scene creatively. Bravo! More Myth and Magic in the Land Of Make Believe!

The Blue Dahlia

Written by Joe D on February 22nd, 2010

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The story goes that Paramount desperately needed to make a film in a hurry, Alan Ladd their box office giant was due to report for military service and they wanted a film to exploit his fame before he went in.

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Ladd, a grip turned actor, for a non-actor he’s very good

So they asked Raymond Chandler to write a script in record breaking time. He asked for and got a bunch of special conditions that he insisted were absolutely necessary for him to finish on time. He wanted to work at home, he needed two cars and drivers at his disposal, round the clock stenographers and nurses and an unlimited supply of alcohol. Chandler felt the only way he could deliver was to be constantly inebriated, I guess this got his creative juices flowing. He delivered the script. Is it a film noir? Maybe but it does veer from the form in certain significant ways. The story starts with three returning WWII vets arriving in Hollywood, U.S.A., Alan Ladd, William Bendix and Beaver Cleaver’s future dad Hugh Beaumont. They stop in a bar for a celebratory drink and we learn that Bendix has a “plate in his head” from a war wound, also he is driven to near insanity every time he hears “monkey music” or big band swing/jazz. A soldier playing a tune on a juke box is the object of Bendix’s maniacal ire. This is an interesting twist, I always felt that WW II era big band music was almost a drug, that it relaxed soldiers far from home, reassuring them with it’s soporific harmonies that everything was going to work out, they’d return home to Mary Lou and grow old under the apple tree. Here Chandler takes the musical promise of normalcy and shines a bright light of reality in our faces by having it inspire madness and murder in the damaged mind of a returned veteran. The other false promise, the faithful wife awaiting her returning husband is likewise demolished when Ladd finds a wild party in full swing at his wife’s “bungalow apartment”, not only that but he sees his spouse smooching on nightclub owner-racketeer Howard DaSilva.

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Evil Sparkly Doris with corrupt nightclub owner/paramour DaSilva

She delivers the coup-d’etat by informing Ladd that their son Jimmy died after she drove drunk and crashed. Doris Dowling plays the evil wife and she is pure nasty badness. OK, usually the femme fatale dupes the man, lies to him, appears sweet or sexy somehow lures him to his doom, like Eve with her Apple, not Doris! She is so nasty and evil she’s lucky Alan Ladd doesn’t kill her himself. She winds up dead pretty quickly which is another curve thrown in the noir structure, the femme fatale is killed in Reel One! Then we get some great Chandler set pieces, Ladd meets Veronica Lake in the rain, (Chandler called her”Moronica” Lake), the house dick (Will Wright) starts blackmailing everyone in sight and is treated like dirt by everyone in the film! He is at the absolute bottom of humanity, I found myself laughing out loud as one character after another insulted, degraded, and humiliated him, maybe I should say tried to humiliate him because he didn’t care, he just wanted a few bucks, or a cigar or whatever he could cadge from anyone in his path.

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Ladd and Lake in fake Malibu. The poor, beautiful junkie paid dearly for fame.

There’s an incredible character- Leo(Don Costello), he’s DaSilva’s partner in the night club and he is great, a true Chandler character, a gangster that wears thick glasses, he looks more like an accountant than the cold blooded killer that he is. I think he’s a truer picture of what a lot of these racketeers were like, they considered themselves business men and killing was simply a part of their business. A sharp observer like Chandler surely based this guy on a real gangster in the papers at that time. Then there’s the obligatory kidnap the hero, take him out of town, tie him up, beat him into unconciousness scene. Just like in The Big Sleep where it happens to Bogie. A great bit of action occurs when Leo, who has injured his foot in a struggle with Ladd, is soaking his toe in a basin of hot water supplied by his kind henchman, Ladd awakens from being slugged and tips a table over that smashes down right on Leo’s injured toe! The reaction from Leo is classic! And I’ve never seen that particular move in a fight scene, another Chandler stroke of genius. There’s plenty of snappy patter such as “I’m not that kind of a rat” “Oh,what kind of a rat are you? or when Lake picks up Ladd in the rain ” I guess you could get wetter if you lay down in the gutter” etc. Chandler knew how to write that kind of stuff. Another anti-noir element is the lighting, there’s no use of shadows, venitian blinds, smoky silhouettes in this film. It actually looks like a Monogram el cheapo. The sets are crummy, under decorated, limned in just a few shades of gray, they actually remind me of the sets from the Abbot and Costello television show.

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Cheapness Personified!

The whole production looks grade Z, which is kind of surprising since Ladd and Lake were big box office at the time, having recently struck gold in This Gun For Hire. Another weird aspect is the almost total lack of background music. The only music in the film is the big band stuff that drives Buzz (Bendix) into homicidal amnesiac rages. Most films of this era had incidental music playing under dialog scenes. This has none. Was this a budgetary consideration? I don’t know, the flat lighting and skimpy set design speaks more of the rapidity with which they needed to make this film, they were under the gun with Ladd’s induction looming. But I feel that the cheapness of the sets, the flat lighting and the lack of music works for this film, it makes it more creepy, it’s harder to dismiss it as a piece of fluff, it gets under your skin like the home movies of a serial killer. It’s more real, lifelike in it’s mundaneness, not movielike.

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The one prop they seem to have spent any money on at all is the neon sign that bedecks the front of DaSilva’s nightclub, a large gaudy Blue Dahlia. That’s the name of the club. I think it represents a lot to Chandler and this story. Da Silva publicizes his club by handing out Dahlias dyed blue. Veronica Lake picks at one absent mindedly in DaSilva’s office triggering an outburst from Buzz “She was picking at a flower just like that when I killed her!” Buzz the disturbed veteran is the murderer! The Dahlia, an exotic hot house flower represented sex,debauchery, corruption to Chandler. Just like the opening scene in The Big Sleep that takes place in General Sternwood’s green house. Exotic flowers are perverse to Chandler, decadent. The fatal combination of Dahlia and “monkey music homicidally unhinges Buzz. I think it played out like this, Buzz met Johnny’s wife in a bar, not realizing who she was. They went to her bungalow to have sex, he couldn’t perform, she taunted him, tore up the flower( masturbated?) drove him to murder.

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Femme Fatale Doris about to get her comeuppance from Shell Shocked Steel Plated Buzz

The film ends with Will Wright being named as the killer but in Chandler’s original script it was Buzz, the Navy intervened and demanded the script be changed, they didn’t want a veteran to be portrayed as a murderer. Chandler strongly objected to this but he was overruled. The film was a big hit and several spin-offs or rip offs were made in it’s wake, notably The Blue Gardenia by Fritz Lang. Shortly after this film’s release a young woman was hanging out in a drugstore in Long Beach, she had wavy black hair and a soda jerk referred to her as The Black Dahlia in a joking reference to this film. Thus pinning a name on one of the most famous unsolved murder cases in the history of L.A. and further assuring a place in history to this strange bit of celluloid.

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Beth Short bedecked with flowers, the real Black Dahlia

The beautiful Veronica Lake was in reality a troubled young woman. Her husband and director Andre deToth revealed that she was a heroin addict and an alcoholic during her meteoric rise to fame. She was found near the end of her life working as a bar maid in NYC. She achieved the fame girls like Elisabeth Short ( Black Dahlia) came to Hollywood to find yet she wound up working in a bar, a fate Beth Short might have shared if she’d lived.

Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451

Written by Joe D on January 24th, 2010

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A film of overwhelming moods, everything in this film seems filtered through a veil of sadness. Visually stunning, the art direction and cinematography are wonderfully rich. The colors jump off the screen in beautiful compositions. Director of Photography Nic Roeg really outdoes himself here. And Bernard Hermann’s music sinks you deeper and deeper into a state of lugubrious drugged oblivion, like a person slipping deeper and deeper into a bottomless vat of viscous oil. The powerful rhythms and images of dream logic make this film even more effective. For example the woman who burns herself with her books and Montag’s nightmare.

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Also I love films made in the 60’s yet set in the future for their take on design, it’s the 60’s taken to a super cool extreme, like they had reached the apogee of design and then found a way to show that somehow in the future it would be improved upon in interesting ways.

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The firetruck, the monorail, the doors that slide open on their own. Big flat panel TV’s hanging on your living room wall.Truffaut didn’t like this film that much although Ray Bradbury did. I think Truffaut is not always a fair judge of his own films since he didn’t like The Bride Wore Black either and to me that’s one of his best films. A fascinating depressing work of Art, check it out on a rainy Saturday afternoon. The opening credits are spoken over images of TV antennas, no writing allowed in the future! Montag forces a group of his wives friends to listen as he reads from a book by Charles Dickens, an emotional passage about the death of the writer’s wife. One woman breaks down in tears, the rest say he’s disgusting, “people aren’t supposed to upset other people, that’s why they did away with books in the first place!” This sounds to me like our politically correct society of today where you can’t say anything slightly off center without being pilloried. Also everyone takes massive amounts of prescription drugs, the whole population is medicated! The mindless totalitarian society hypnotized by Television and since there is no writing allowed, there can be no scripts for the actors on TV, sounds to me a lot like Reality Shows. Now The that the Supreme Court has allowed Corporations to spend as much as they want on political campaigns Fahrenheit 451 doesn’t seem so far away. I just heard that it will be re-made with Tom Hanks as Montag, Ray Bradbury is in frail shape this could finish him off. So check it out and see what you think, it is a very unique, disturbing film.

Dan O’Bannon - Space Maven

Written by Joe D on December 18th, 2009

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Dan O’Bannon beamed up today, creative force behind Dark Star, Alien, and a prime mover in Sci-Fi, Fantasy genres. Here’s a great piece written about him on another film blog: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2009/dec/18/dan-obannon-alien

Deadline U.S.A.

Written by Joe D on April 17th, 2009

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Last night I went to another screening, part of the 11th Film Noir Festival at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood USA. One of the films shown was Deadline U.S.A., the directorial debut of Richard Brooks, who shot to fame soon after with his mega hit Blackboard Jungle. Brooks had been a newspaperman and the veracity his experience brings into play is eye-opening. The scene at the paper are great, especially the scenes in the printing room, these were the days when the paper was printed on giant machines directly downstairs from the reporters desks. A lot of important action takes places right there in front of, over and in the enormous presses. It’s also a very timely piece as the subplot has to do with the selling and closing of a vital newspaper something we are being subjected to on a daily basis across our country, probably across the world. Eddie Mueller (programmer of the Noir Fest) spoke before the screening. He said his father was a newspaperman and this was his favorite film. Then he asked how many people in the audience were in the newspaper game, I would say about half of the crowd raised their hands, this film is beloved by journalists and I can see why. It’s really about the power of the press, about the principles of journalism that inspires a young person to pursue a career in that hallowed field. And never have I seen the ideals of reporting better illustrated, a sensational story of a nude blonde, wearing only a mink coat is fished out of a river, one paper plays it up in true tabloid style, Humphrey Bogart’s paper “The Day” reports it unsensationally.
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Bogart plays editor Ed Hutcheson, a tough, obsessed genius newspaperman, unafraid to take on the biggest gangster in town, uncompromising, a beautiful performance. The supporting cast is loaded with great character actors, Kim Hunter as Bogie’s ex-wife, Ed Begley, Jim Backus, Paul Stewart, you’ll see a gallery of faces that you recognize from many films. But the real stand out for me was the dialogue, some of the best, funniest, on the money verbiage I’ve heard in any film. Brooks really knew what he was talking about or should I say writing about.
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Brooks on the Right
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Michael Cimino was a friend of Richard Brooks and he told me a story about him once. It seems Brooks had just come to Hollywood and he got a gig writing something for Orson Welles. Welles was making Jane Eyre at the time over at Samuel Goldwyn Studios in Hollywood ( across the street from the Formosa Bar) Brooks lived nearby and one night as he was typing feverishly in his apartment, he heard someone yelling his name. He looked out the window and there was Welles, in full Jane Eyre makeup, driving a horse and buggy from the film, out in the street in front of Brooks apartment. ” Brooks, where are my pages! I want my pages!” Welles shouted, urging the young writer to hurry up and finish his assignment. Welles had just taken off from the set still in character, driving a horse and buggy he drove in the film out the gate and down the streets of Hollywood to check up on his writer. Those were the days! But see Deadline U.S.A. if you can, it’s not out on DVD but somebody at Fox should take note and release this wonderful film for the world to enjoy and treasure.annex-fontaine-joan-jane-eyre_01.jpg

Welles in the Buggy with Joan Fontaine

The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane

Written by Joe D on November 17th, 2008

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TCM has done it again, screened a somewhat obscure film I’ve never seen. The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane is a stylish thriller (sort of), a psychological fairy tale chess game, the board pieces consisting of a precocious blonde angel, sexy, innocent brilliant, deadly, an evil Prince, sadistic, pederast, coward, bully, with pretensions of refined debauchery, a teen aged limping magician, complete with top hat and cape, accomplice, lover, confidant, defender of his lady’s virtue, a large village policeman, slow, good natured, (later to write Jacques Brel is alive and living in Paris) and a racist Queen of a landlady, driving in her Bentley like the wicked witch.
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Beautifully directed and photographed TLGWLDTL feels like a EuroHorror film, not quite a giallo ( no black gloved killers) but definitely closer to the Italian style of filmmaking than the American. Complete with a glimpse of a nude 13 year old Jodie Foster ( really her older sister Connie, body doubling her) that was cut out of the American release. Martin Sheen is excellent as the pervert neighbor who covets Jodie’s nubile body, but Jodie is amazing, a captivating, mesmerizing performance that dispels the incredulity this tale could easily raise. It’s worth watching sheerly for her genius. She has a magnetic, feral/angelic quality that makes it hard to take your eyes off her. The camera loves her would be one way to express it but it seems to me that some people can project their thoughts through the Cinema Eye (the camera lens) much more powerfully than others. Is that Acting? I think it’s more a psychic phenomena than a learned craft. The director,Nicolas Gessner, a Hungarian, does an excellent job. A true Euro director. He understands Film and manipulates it beautifully. One of the things I look for in a great filmmaker is a memorable image for the last shot of a film. True Cinema creators always have this, and this movie has a beaut.
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The score is interesting, Chopin concerto played as source from a record, and wah wah guitar funk, so 70’s, another aspect that draws comparison with the Italian thrillers of that era. This film also serves as an example of how to make an excellent film with basically one location and only a few actors, it’s a great lesson in restrained resource filmmaking. It was based on a novel and the author(Laird Koenig) wrote the screenplay, so there was a lot of thought put into the story before the cameras rolled, you can tell. It won a Sci Fi award but I think Jodie should have gotten an Oscar for her work.
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Alain Robbe-Grillet Films to screen at UCLA

Written by Joe D on November 6th, 2008

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Mr. Cool -Maestro of the Nouveau Roman

They’re screening two rare Robbe-Grillet films at the Billy Wilder Theater on Friday Nov.7. L’IMMORTELLE and TRANS-EUROPE EXPRESS.

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Scene From L’Imortelle ( The Immortal Woman)

These films are almost impossible to see so go if you can, I’ll be there. Here’s the details. I’ve been reading a lot of Robbe=Grillet’s novels recently, very inspirational stuff, creatively inspirational. The way he plays with plots making intricate patterns out of genre plot devices. “Generators” he called them, elements of genre storytelling that are now part of our collective unconscious from years of pulp magazine writings, grade B horror films, film noirs, etc. I’ve never seen these films so I can’t write about them. But they are showing Last Year At Marienbad on Sunday Nov. 9th, an influential structural film Robbe-Grillet wrote that was directed by Alain Resnais. I’ve seen that one. I went to see it at the Bleecker Street Cinema back in the late 70’s. There was a sign at the door to the theater, it read something like this.”Dear Patrons, The catalog lists the running time of this film as 107 minutes. We’ve timed the print we have at 93 minutes but we can’t tell what’s missing.” That should give you an idea as to what the film is like. It’s very cool, definitely worth seeing, there’s a famous long shot of a formal garden, people stand here and there in tuxedos and gowns and their shadows were painted in.
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A Famous Image That Conveys Robbe-Grillet’s Prismatic Approach To Storytelling

The Sound Of Fury, aka Try and Get Me

Written by Joe D on February 27th, 2008

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I just watched a powerful film noir. Made in 1950 it features some great locations and an outstanding performance by Lloyd Bridges. For my money this is one of his best. He plays an amoral killer named Jerry and he steals the show.
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Is This The Same Alley Where The Dude Would Learn To Bowl?

We start out following the story of Howard Tyler( Frank Lovejoy). he’s an out of work regular schmoe whose wife is pregnant and who owes the grocery store and the landlord. He can’t get a job to save his life and when his wife starts bawling he grabs his coat and hits the street. Unfortunately for him he drops in at a local bowling alley for a beer and bumps into Jerry Slocum (LLoyd Bridges). If only he hadn’t gone into that particular bowling alley at theat particular moment. But it’s a Noir Universe our schlubby hero has fallen into and as such, he’s Out Of Luck.
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Don’t go in there! Get out while you can!

Howard watches Jerry roll a strike and they start talking, within instants Jerry is ordering Howard around. ” Get My shoes, will ya.” He tantalizes the poor schnook with the offer of a potential job and Howard is hooked like a trout in a lake.
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The Reporter and The Incipient Criminal coincidentally rub elbows at the Bowling Alley Of Destiny.

Meanwhile in the very same bowling alley Gil Stanton (Richard Carlson), Ace Reporter for the local paper is kibitzing with the barkeep. His story is told in parallel with Howard’s although you don’t know why until later. So by now Jerry has Howard back at his flat where he proceeds to show off his expensive wardrobe and treat Howard like his personal valet. ” That’s real silk! Feel it. Those cufflinks are platinum, button’em up for me.”
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The composition of this Shot says it all!

Jerry plays Howard like a fish and when he tells Howie the job he has in mind for him is driving the getaway car while Jerry sticks up gas stations, Howard gets cold feet. But Jerry gets mad, calls Howard a loser, throws 10 bucks at him and tells him to beat it. It plays out like a seduction and Lloyd is amazingly good at it. His character is so well drawn, so true, it’s a mind blower.
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The 1st Stick-Up

The heat builds and Jerry and Howard pull off a kidnapping. This is the big score, they can make some real money now. Unfortunately Jerry smashes the trussed up young rich guy’s head with a rock before the horrified Howard’s eyes.
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Murder Most Foul!

The newspaper man writes a sensationalistic piece calling for blood and when the two crooks are caught a lynch mob descends upon the jail and tears it apart.
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Sensationalistic Journalism, Go Peddle Your Papers

Just before this happens the reporter has a change of heart, due partly to an emotional visit from Howard’s wife. He tries to change his latest bloodthirsty editorial but the greedy publisher just wants to sell more papers and he’s not about to change his headline!
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The Wife’s Best Scene, where she confronts the rabble rousing reporter

This movie is a real indictment of mob violence and the social responsibility of the media.
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The Mob Wants Blood!
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Jerry in Jail with a Lynch Mob Howling For His Head!
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Here’s a switch, The Mob Uses A Fire Hose On The Cops!
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Howard is carried like Jesus to Golgotha!

It also hit home for me on a personal note. I had a friend , a very nice guy, he was a musician. Like a lot of musicians he augmented his income by dealing drugs, pot, then blow. He turned a big rock star onto some coke and the guy reciprocated by turning my pal onto some high grade heroin. My buddy got strung out in no time flat. The rock star had to suddenly split and my pal was cut off, no dope. He was cracking up. He told me he drove a getaway car for a stickup guy, a junkie like himself, just to get some money so he could score drugs. Now this was a guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly. He was an artist, peaceful, really a great guy. So when I see Howard roped into crime because of need, I flash on my pal. I could see how it could happen. My buddy’s dead by the way. He straightened up, got sober, got married and then found out he was HIV positive from sharing needles.
Sound Of Fury was directed by Cyril Endfield. He ended his days in England, forced to move there after he was blacklisted in the 50’s for being a Commie. This story was concerned with Society and the different types of people interacting in it, and how they viewed their morality , their responsibility to society, their identity. Cy Endfield later directed the excellent Zulu, the film that launched Michael Caine’s career. And if you think about it, Zulu is about a microcosm of society, a regiment of soldiers, hopelessly outnumbered, that perseveres through working together, a great story for a Socialist to tell.
Also of note, this film was written by Jo Pagano, based on her novel. I’d like to find out more about Ms. Pagano. A woman writing this ultra violent noir in the 50’s? She sounds pretty unique to me.
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After writing the above line I captured this frame, it says based on his novel, so I guess Jo Pagano was a man. Although there is some confusion on the IMDB.

Ernie Pyle, The Story Of G.I. Joe

Written by Joe D on February 4th, 2008

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A Man Falls Dying Only Once

This is pretty wild. The Army just released this picture of War correspondent Ernie Pyle’s corpse. It was taken minutes after he was shot and killed by a sniper on a Pacific Island in 1945. The Army didn’t relesase the picture until now out of concern for Ernie’s widow. Ernie wrote my favorite WWII movieThe Story Of G.I. Joe, he didn’t live to see it released. I wonder if William Wellman ever saw this picture. It reminds me of a shot of Robert Mitchum at the end of G.I. Joe. The role that would make Mitchum a star. Ernie Pyle, I salute you. You gave a voice to the dog soldiers, the guys slogging through the mud and freezing while being shot at with Howitzers. In the photo it almost looks like you’re sleeping. Rest Easy, you earned it.

Il Boss vs. Mafioso

Written by Joe D on January 17th, 2008

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I picked up a copy of Peter McCurtin’s 1970 pulp novel Mafioso. This is the book Fernando Di Leo adapted for his 1973 film Il Boss(USA Wipeout). The main reason I got it was to see if the story continued beyond the ending of Il Boss, because at the end of Il Boss, there’s a title that says CONTINUA (to be continued).
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I figured the story in the book must go on for a while to a conclusion. But I found out, although it has a different ending, the film actually has a few more scenes than the novel. Let’s start at the beginning. Nick Lanzetta (Henry Silva in the movie) is a rising star, ultra cold blooded killer, his first hit, blowing up a rival gang in a movie theater with a grenade launcher fired from the projection booth, is lifted right out of the book, the main difference being in the movie the Don and his cohorts are watching a porno film, in the book a gangster film. By the way the book takes place in Brooklyn and the author uses a lot of real locations, I lived there for a while and could easily picture where things were happening, the movie takes place in Sicily. The other main differences are, the head of the rival gang is a black guy named Coakley, in the movie he’s an Italian named Cocchi. Don Corrassco (Richard Conte in the movie) does not want to make peace with the rival gang because they’re not Sicilian, in the book because they’re black. In the movie the corrupt cop (Gianni Garko) wants to maintain order in the mafia that’s why he helps them, sort of a proto-fascist. In the book the corrupt cop is an old Irish guy, he’s just looking for some extra money.
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Pignataro Kills Don Corrassco. This is where the film really differs from the novel and for my money the film’s ending is vastly superior.

The main differences are at the end. In the book Lanzetta and his lieutenant, Pignataro recruit the other gang members and do a air/ sea assault on the Don’s Long Island compound. It’s the worst thing in the book. Di Leo’s denouement is far superior. Then Di Leo goes one step further, he has Pignataro try to kill Lanzetta, egged on by the lawyer who seems to represent the Pope! In the book Lanzetta and his men kill Don Corrassco and Lanzetta assumes control of Corrassco’s family. I think Di Leo found this unbelievable to an Italian audience. In America you can fight your way to the top of the heap, a guy starting out with nothing can become rich and powerful. In Italy with all the centuries of family history, it’s much more difficult to jump above your station. Case in point, when I was in Rome I met a lot of up and coming directors. A few complained to me that they couldn’t get their films produced while their contemporaries, whose families had been in the film business for generations got theirs produced right away. It’s just the way it is. Also I was surprised at how similar the scenes between Lanzetta and Daniello’s daughter Kate were. The arguments they have while shacked up in Lanzetta’s apartment are almost verbatim in the film and they’re great.
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Silva and the Dead Don’s Daughter

Great Art often comes from transplanting an idea from one culture to another and back again. This is an interesting study in cross cultural fertilization. Comparing the film and the novel was fascinating and I recommend the book to any fan of the film.

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RE:FILM FORNO 12
(Date Posted:07/04/2010 8:35 PM)

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

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SSOS just showed on TCM as part of a Tony Curtis retrospective.
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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.”
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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.
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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!
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Time Travel via HotDog Stand!
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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.
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Sidney in the lobby of The Brill Building, 1600 Bway was right across the street
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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.
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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!
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West Side Highway Location?
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Evil Cop Harry Kello beats up Jazz Guitarist Martin Milner
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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.
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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?
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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

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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

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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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!
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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!
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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!

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

Casamento’s, Pal’s Lounge

Written by Joe D on October 16th, 2007

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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.
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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!
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Mike, King of New Orleans Oyster Shuckers!

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

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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.
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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!
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The little Old Winemaker, Me

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

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