9/26/19

MOVIES TIL DAWN'S MAIDEN VOYAGE: ANDY GARCIA AND JOHN AVILDSEN


As explained in the previous blog entry, my new podcast 'Movies Til Dawn' has finally launched. The show is a series of in-depth conversations between me and a variety of legendary, accomplished and always fascinating directors/actors/producers. The first two episodes are two-part interviews, one with Andy Garcia and one with the late John G. Avildsen ('Rocky', 'The Karate Kid', 'Lean On Me'). You can listen by going to https://moviestildawn.transistor.fm Once there, you'll find the episodes embedded on the site. Or if you prefer to listen via your favorite podcast platform/supplier/app/whatever just go to 'Subscribe' and you'll be given a list of many glorious options. You may be a Stitcher person, an Apple Podcasts guy, a Soundcloud girl, a Spotify sort, a Tune In type or a Youtube...whatever. Or maybe you don't really have time to listen to another podcast, in which case forget about the whole thing.

But I think you'll enjoy this new and enjoyable use of my phone book (still leather, non-electronic) in which I've accumulated the names/phone numbers/e-mails of a lot of filmmaking greats who I admire and whom I've badgered into participating in this venture.

This blog will now exist as a 'support' to the podcast. I'll be posting videos of the subjects of the interviews, beginning right now. See below for a series of clips from the work of Andy Garcia and John G. Avildsen. Enjoy!

Here's Andy Garcia and Cher discussing their work together on 'Mamma Mia 2'.


Here's Andy and his daughter Donimik Garia-Lorida discussing working with each other in my movie 'City Island'.

Here's a clip from Andy's movie 'The Lost City' which he starred in as well as directed and which we discuss at length in the podcast. And below that, a clip from his breakout role in 'The Godfather 3".



And now for John Avildsen. Here's John winning the best Director Oscar for 'Rocky'.

Here's the lovely scene of Rocky and Adrians first meeting in 'Rocky' and below that a clip from 1974s 'Save The Tiger' featuring Jack Lemmon's searing Oscar-winning performance.



And finally perhaps Avildsen's most beloved scene from 1985s 'The Karate Kid'.

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9/17/19

"MOVIES Til DAWN; HER FALL AND RISE"


May 29 through September 17. A more than generous summer vacation for this old, increasingly creaky blog. If indeed there are any readers left (aside from you of course) they must have come to the conclusion that all motivation to continue posting was drained from me over time, that the lack of any income resulting from this long-running hobby-project became too dispiriting, or that I simply ran out of things to say or write about. All are true. Though none of them are the real reason I haven't been posting.

The real reason is Twitter. It is infinitely easier to find a video of interest on Youtube and simply share it with my meager but friendly bunch of followers than it is to write an entire paragraph on the same video and receive not a whit of satisfaction that anyone has watched it or even noticed its presence. The 'blog' (always hated that word--'weblog' is better but only just) has probably run its course in a general sense, belonging to an earlier on-line world where people's attention spans were less cluttered. Hard to believe that I began writing this blog a full year before the appearance of the I-Phone. I'm not sure what I expected out of it except to share the joy and admiration I feel for so much of the cultural ash heap of the past that can be culled and enjoyed on Youtube.

The Weblog has been more or less replaced over the past few years by Twitter and, yes, Podcasts. Twitter fits the international attention span much better. And podcasts can be listened to while doing other crap, like driving dangerously or working out on one of those awful machines. And so I'm moving with the times (sort of, not really, more than usual though) and launching the MOVIES 'TIL DAWN PODCAST'. It will turn up in a couple of weeks. More soon.

The podcast will feature lengthy, in-depth conversations with filmmakers, actors, producers etc., all of whom I know (at least a little) and enjoy talking with about the work we do. Featured among them will be Andy Garcia, Peter Bogdanovich, John Sayles, Jerry Schatzberg, Mary Harron, Griffin Dunne and more. The podcast will officially launch in one week--September 23.

But this won't actually spell the end of this blog. For with each monthly interview I post I'll be adding supporting videos about the artist being interviewed to this site. Over the years, this blog has morphed from time to time, changing its format and/or purpose to suit my own changing needs. So this isn't goodbye to my old on-line journal, my bid for Hellinger/Winchell/Sullivan/Wilson column greatness. It's merely time for it to serve the next phase of my online life--or, to put it bluntly, to help me make even less money doing something cool than this blog brought me. Stay tuned...

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5/29/19

BEVERLY HILLS PROPERTIES OF THE 1950s: AN AL HERD JOINT



Here's a real weirdie. Back in the 1950s a real estate broker named Al Herd, who apparently specialized in Beverly Hills properties, made a promotional film consisting of shots of him showing two very 50s-esque youngish ladies various houses he was representing. Or was the film actually ever really made? From the look of the above sound-free reel, it appears that footage was shot but possibly never edited. Certainly the odd assortment of shots and lack of any attempt at continuity suggest that these are unedited dailies that probably never found an actual final form. Was Mr. Herd the auteur behind this production? And who exactly forgot to press the little sound button, rendering the film mute and depriving us, sixty-plus years later, of hearing what the prattling pitch of a real estate agent of the past sounded like? Still, there are nice period shots of very 'flats' style BH houses, some canyon ranch houses and a couple of awfully large pools. Strangely, even in black and white LA then looks like LA now--scrubby, mephitic, debilitating. And that's in the good neighborhood...

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4/25/19

SUNSET STRIP DRAG



Take a little spin down the Sunset Strip in 1964, courtesy of the above clip. While the uniformly low buildings of the time have now given way in many cases to mega-hotels, there are still quite a few recognizable ones. My family moved to LA four years after this and even though I was quite young, I feel like I remember this iteration of the Strip. Just watching this evoked the smell of the Barbecue place on the corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights (where the big nasty mall is now once stood a small nasty strip mall). The cars are sparser of course and much more pleasing to the eye. The City National Bank building looms at the end of the strip through the entire ride and the northwest corner of Doheny and Sunset is the exact same liquor store that it is now--that makes at least 58 years of boozing on that corner. Just as the driver passes the store (no doubt wondering if he should stop in for a bottle) he blows a light and almost crashes into a car that has to stop short. The driver gives him a nasty look, as well he should. And thus ends this little jaunt down the Strip of Dreams...

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3/13/19

CELEBRITY SHILLS: A RETROSPECTIVE



It's been over a month since I've posted anything on this blog and I can place the blame for my laziness squarely on the shoulder of Twitter. After being on Twitter for something like eight years and barely ever glancing at it, I finally found out what is so addictive about it and have lost hours on it (along with an online Bridge game that I've devoted far too much time too as well). I'm not going to opine on the matter. I just confess to having grown addicted to Goddam Twitter. Aside from its addictive nature, it allows me to post things such as the above video compilation of 'Celebrity TV Commercials' from the 50s through the 70s without feeling guilty that I'm not writing a windy blog entry such as this one. But as I'm a writer by profession (and perhaps by nature, though lately my fondness for nature is waning) I might as well keep this muscle tuned up. Or in shape. Whatever.

Among the celebrities featured in the above vintage ads are Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (shilling for Phillip Morris cigarettes), Dean Martin (selling his own branded golf balls), the cast of Hogans Heroes (Jello?), Johnny Cash (can't remember), Jack Benny (gasoline...seriously), Farrah Fawcett (hair products) and others. Perhaps the most poignant and more than a little spooky of those others is John Wayne who appears in two commercials. The first, from the 50s, is for Camel Cigarettes. The second, from the seventies, is a call to support the American Cancer Society, for whom Duke had become a spokesman after contracting the lung cancer that would eventually kill him. And on that cheery note...

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