Camp David


By • Oct 1st, 2000 •

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There is a great possibility I can now take credit for creating a name for the new gay comedy from the U.K. which premiered at the Palm Springs Film Festival earlier this year. Originally it was titled Rhythm & Blues, set in a fantasy Great Britain circa 1980. It marks the directorial debut of Stephen Lennhoff who acquired the backing from Freddie Mercury’s lover after Freddie’s death. In attendance for the festival were writer Michael Jones and Producer Hugh Bysott-Webb, who both appeared on my radio show . After the screening of the film, it became obvious to me that it would be better appreciated if the title were not so obscure. The original title came from a line of dialog out of Rebel Without a Cause which goes over the heads of most of the viewing audience. So, I suggested to Hugh (the producer) over several gin martinis to change the title to Bad Daddy after Angus A. Macinnes, a character actor who appeared in several films including Star Wars. Will keep ‘Camp David’ readers abreast as to how the film will appear in your local video stores over the summer.

The Festival also debuted the latest adaptation of Stevenson’s The Suicide Club which looked like the most expensive Hammer Film ever made, with the great Jonathan Pryce, from Roger Corman’s New Concorde Entertainment. A must see on the direct-to-video circuit.

I was surprised and delighted to get a review copy of Michael Winner’s I’ll Never Forget What’s ‘is Name with Oliver Reed and Orson Welles in peak form supported by Carol White and Marianne Faithfull on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment. If eccentric British sex comedies are your cup of tea, this is at the forefront. The film holds the distinction of introducing oral sex and harsh language to British cinema and was condemned by the ratings board at the time of release.

Also forthcoming from Anchor Bay on DVD shall be Mario Bava’s last feature horror film Shock followed by Freddie Francis’s The Vampire Happening with Ferdy Mayne as Dracula. One of the Wiggier horror films to come on DVD has to be Possession with Isabelle Adjani and her wild sexual escapades with a Lovecraftian octopus. Lastly, from Spain, The Blood-Spattered Bride, available for the first time, completely uncut and letterboxed, quite possibly the goriest adaptation of ‘Carmilla’ yet.

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting the last surviving cast member of the 1931 version of Svengali, which starred the great John Barrymore. Her name is Marian Marsh, who, at the age of 17, portrayed Trilby opposite the ‘The Great Profile.’ She is now known as Marian Henderson, lives in Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs and devotes her time to various charities. I made her acquaintance at an event for an organization she founded called “Desert Beauty” which is dedicated to keeping Palm Springs and its environs free of billboards and debris.

She arrived in Palm Springs back in 1938 and remembers when Garbo and Clark Gable made the desert a playground for stars who wanted their privacy. Very active in her mid-eighties, she remembered the birthday party John Barrymore had on the set of Svengali when she turned 17. Barrymore was so taken with her beauty and vulnerability that he cast her in his next film The Mad Genius, directed by Michael Curtiz. She also created an impression in Von Sternberg’s adaptation of Crimes and Punishment with Peter Lorre. And lastly, her appearance in Columbia’s The Black Room in 1935, with Boris Karloff in dual roles. Four films made unforgettable with her presence.

I am trying to persuade her to do a series of audio commentaries, and I hope by showing her these films, which she has not seen since she made them, that it will stimulate her memory and give us an oral history of a golden age long gone.

Sadly I was informed of the passing of director Roger Vadim whom I felt never got the recognition he deserved because of the notoriety of the beautiful women in his life.

Blood and Roses (Et Mourir Avec Plaisir)
, made in 1960, is probably the finest adaptation of “Carmilla”. For those not familiar with this novella from Sheridan LeFanu, it is basically the female version of “Dracula” with a distinct lesbian subtext. Paramount has released Blood and Roses only on VHS and in the EP Mode (!) This ia a major faux pas on their part because, seen in its proper ratio and the correct speed, the film is glorious. The photography by Claude Renoir and the music, very 16th Century, make Blood and Roses a classic.

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