Camp David


By • Dec 1st, 2004 •

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As the last shadows of 2004 fall before us I must try and catch up from my last communiqué to this column’s readership. Life’s little setbacks prevented yours truly from staying on track with all the latest from Hollywood. First and foremost I must thank once again all my friends at the American Cinemateque for allowing me to enjoy The Sam Peckinpah retrospective adroitly conducted by Nick Redmond to celebrate the release of a most important body of Sam’s amazing work on to DVD.

The guests that came down to the Egyptian to share their memories about “Bloody Sam” included Stella Stevens, Bob Hoskins, Burt Young and Peckinpah expert Paul Seydor. The prints were pristine and to screen THE WILD BUNCH and especially the uncut “PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID, as they originally were premiered was a special thrill for the directors many admirers. The documentary SAM PECKINPAH’S WEST was also shown along with the early TV series “The Westerner” giving some perspective to a great filmmaker’s vision.

A few weeks’ later actor Clu Gulager and I made a pact to see every one of Fellini’s feature films together over a month’s time and in spite of many obstacles we did it. Clu’s son, John Gulager got his first feature film to direct, a horror thriller entitled FEAST during the festival so there was much to celebrate. My favorite moments were sitting in between films and listening to Clu remembering his many exploits in the film business. For my money he stole the remake of THE KILLERS from Lee Marvin and Ronald Reagan. Clu should have been huge after that film but his career has had its share of highs and lows as many veterans have before him. He was cast in the two hour TV pilot of “Falcon Crest” opposite Jane Wyman and was replaced when the show went to series for asking the same salary Jane Wyman was getting! Clu realized if he had just stayed with that show he would have been a millionaire, however hindsight is 20/20.

Your humble servant has just agreed to do the liner notes for the DVD uncut director’s presentation of Harry Kumel’s MALPERTUIS from Barrel Entertainment. A 90-minute conversation with Harry Kumel and myself will also be part of the supplemental material on the disc. The film, long a legend in the genre of Fantasy and Horror, features Orson Welles and Susan Hampshire. Once released in a badly cut version known as THE LEGEND OF DOOM HOUSE, Jean Ray’s fantasy novella is the source for a brilliant cocktail of Belgian surrealism from the director of DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS.

Since my last column VCI has restored Luis Bunuel’s ROBINSON CRUSOE to its original glory and my conversation with Oscar nominee Dan O’Herlihy is showcased to great advantage if I do say so myself!! Dan and I spent a wonderful afternoon way back in 1985 at his beachfront in Malibu recording his thoughts about his years as a working actor. The film, shot in color in the early 1950’s, has never been on any format until now and the result is spellbinding for those who love not only Bunuel but also a classic retelling of the Crusoe legend.

There is a great new website from my pal Bill George, well known to fans from the days of magazines like Cinefantastique and especially Femme Fatale, which had Bill as editor for all the seasons it remained on top of its game. Now Bill has put his considerable talents toward. This is an elegant tribute site for those who admire classic horror and fantasy and in particular the ladies of space and time…check it out!

One of my favorite cult films has always been the very underrated Cornel Wilde’s THE NAKED PREY, directed by the man himself. In the time since his death there seems to be a growing interest among film buffs to rediscover his work. A rather advanced young nusic company called Locust Music is releasing the soundtrack on CD for THE NAKED PREY. I am pleased to be a part of its release in so far as I am told my interview with Wilde is featured as a side bar. I met him during the last five years of his life and remember how proud he was of his films. Cornel was negotiating a sequel to THE NAKED PREY to be done by Paramount who released the first film worldwide. He wanted to star his real life son as the character similar to his original role. Sadly Cornel passed away from Leukemia before this dream could be realized. Please examine his other films like BEACH RED and NO BLADE OF GRASS to further appreciate this master filmmaker for yourself.

Peter Bogdanovich is likely the most informed authority of film history we have in America and of the 13 books he has created over the years his latest “Who the Hell is in it?” is a must have for anyone who loves cinema. I met up with Peter after many years of missed opportunities and reminded him that we met at the beginning of his career when TARGETS was making the rounds of film festivals and giving the great Boris Karloff a swansong worthy of his legend. Karloff has a wonderful essay in the book as does James Cagney, Jimmy Stewart and surprisingly Jerry Lewis! It turns out they are the best of friends from days gone by, and Lewis even gave Peter a car when he was new in town and struggling. At 58, Bogdanovich is still creating and very active in the film world, so rush out and start reading this man’s extraordinary journey through show business.

After liking and then disliking INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE the film for years, I have finally decided I very much like it, all its flaws notwithstanding. The director of the film, Neil Jordan, is an Irishman with a great flair for story telling and at a recent screening of THE CRYING GAME I caught up with Neil and his new book about ghosts called “Shade”.

He made the fascinating COMPANY OF WOLVES a few decades ago and told me the inspiration for the film was the little known Sarrgossa Manuscript that also uses the tale within a tale motif to great advantage. I can’t wait until Neil makes a film out of his well-crafted novel, which is going to happen, and remember you read it in Camp David first!

A&E has the best selection of British television on the planet and I am so addicted to their presentations of crime dramas that each new offering is a treat! ‘Sapphire and Steel’ is a gem of a cult series with the sublime Joanna Lumley and David McCallum as time traveling detectives with a 70’s flair for costumes and plots. ‘A Touch of Frost’ with David Jason is now in four volumes and counting. ‘Rumpole of the Bailey’ with the fab Leo McKern is now on DVD, not to mention all the 70’s television I had forgotten I enjoyed at the time. A special thanks to the incomparable Miss Lemon and her many kindnesses.

Until another column remember may all your dreams be in 70mm!

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