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Sunset Gun
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I wasn’t certain what to except when I ventured up to Winnipeg with Bing Crosby and Bela Lugosi on my mind. I did know that I would be working on a short film with Guy Maddin, something both exciting and anxiety-inducing. We had been hatching an idea together. Since we both love Crosby and Lugosi, we were intrigued that these two titans had been buried... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2014 at Sunset Gun
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My pop, the pugilist. Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2014 at Sunset Gun
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“A sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing. But if I’m going to be a symbol of something I’d rather have it sex than some other things they’ve got symbols of.” -- Marilyn Monroe Jack Garfein vividly remembers first seeing Marilyn Monroe in person. She was almost overwhelming to him. It wasn't just that she was gorgeous, there was something... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2014 at Sunset Gun
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Marilyn. Return of the Silve Witch. On the eve of her birthday, here's my piece from last year for the LA Review of Books. Happy Birthday, Marilyn. One of the most arresting images I’ve ever seen of Marilyn Monroe came not from a movie or newsreel footage or one of her many photographs. It came from a blanket. Driving through Death Valley on a long... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2014 at Sunset Gun
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“Starting to see pictures, ain’t ya?” -- Major Marquis Warren Without seeing a shot of it, not one spectacular sweeping frame, not one lovely snow-covered panorama, not one majestic vision of horses, “rip snorting through the bottom of the landscape,” I got it. I got it on stage with chairs and actors and pantomimed guns and imagined stagecoaches and blue coffee pots laced with poison.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2014 at Sunset Gun
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Here's an excerpt from my piece, "The Endless Push and Pull of Lindsay Lohan's Reality Show" at Vulture. Happy Easter. I love watching Lindsay Lohan sort through clothes. It's strangely soothing, like sitting on the bed watching your older sister prepare for a date. Lindsay sorts through boxes of things, her ciggie dangling, stopping once in a while to put on a jacket, moving her... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2014 at Sunset Gun
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I asked the easy, but often hard to answer: "Who was the greatest director you ever worked with?" He answered, without hesitation, "John Huston." That was Michael Caine and this was 2009, when I sped up from an away-from-LA respite in Joshua Tree to talk to the legendary actor among a small (surprisingly small) roundtable of film writers. When he walked into the suite, he... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2014 at Sunset Gun
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2014. Oscars. I've been behind here for over a month. Apologies to those who read me and who believe I should post, at the very least, twice a month. I should! But I've been working on other projects, keeping me away and in some cases, ridiculously stressed. To relax reading has trumped extra writing and so I've devoured seven books in less than two months.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2014 at Sunset Gun
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Happy Jack Benny's Birthday! Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2014 at Sunset Gun
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Mike Tyson has been a long standing fascination for me. From first seeing his explosive power in the ring to this new kind of palpable excitement (he was so electrifying, so young, so real...) to witnessing his terrible downfall (and downfalls, and then, revivals, good and bad), to me, he's one of the most intriguing American figures of the last thirty years. I've just read... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2014 at Sunset Gun
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It's often those little moments. What happens while waiting for the train, walking with a girl, sitting at the desk, working your tedious job. Those little things -- they work so beautifullly in Italian filmmaker Ermanno Olmi's maserpiece Il Posto (1961), a film that observes work (“Il Posto" means "The Job") through the orbs of a teenager (the saucer-eyed and touchingly languid non-professional actor Sandro... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2013 at Sunset Gun
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Another Christmas, another posting of one of my favorite holiday movies -- Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut starring Nicole Kidman and that bizarre force -- Tom Cruise. A movie star and a fascinating, sometimes, brilliant actor, Cruise is an actor who thinks he's sincere. And he is. But is he? You really believe that he thinks he's sincere but... there's something off. Something he doesn't... Continue reading
Posted Dec 25, 2013 at Sunset Gun
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This year marks the 50th anniversary of Joseph L. Mankiewicz's's 1963 Cleopatra, a grand spectacle beset with production hell, hirings, firings, budgetary insanity and one of the most legendary affairs in Hollywood history. Re-released to coincide with Cleopatra's 50th is the book "My Life with Cleopatra: The Making of a Hollywood Classic" by Cleopatra producer Walter Wanger. Wanger's journals offer some intriguing inside information, but... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2013 at Sunset Gun
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How in the name of Felix E. Feist did I manage to miss the wickedly efficient The Threat until 2011? What a bracing, lean and mean movie this is; a tense, simple, yet vigorously acted action/hostage picture with not an ounce of flab on it. Current action pictures or, really, any modern motion picture (not all, there are exceptions, of course) with their frequently abused... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2013 at Sunset Gun
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Revisiting Dale Hawkins' "Ruby." "She’s leavin’ now ’cause I heard the slammin’ of the door. The way I know I’ve heard it slam one hundred times before. And if I could move I’d get my gun and put her in the ground. Oh Ruby, for God’s sake turn around." Just reading those lyrics gives me chills. And depending on who is singing them, the chills... Continue reading
Posted Nov 24, 2013 at Sunset Gun
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Each week, The Dissolve "designates a movie of the week for staffers and readers to watch and discuss, with a leadoff essay on Monday, a roundtable-style forum on Tuesday, and another related feature to follow." This week, they chose Ernst Lubitsch's Trouble in Paradise and asked me to write their related feature. Here's an excerpt from my piece on the pre-Code comedies of Lubitsch. Read... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2013 at Sunset Gun
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“Come on dad, give me the car tonight.” Some of my most vivid teenage memories are wrapped in chrome and steel. My first accident in my VW baby blue Bug found me breaking the windshield with my 16-year-old face. I recall stumbling out of the wreckage dazed, suffering a then-unknown concussion, staggering silently through the scene, curiously observing the unscathed, enormous Lincoln Town Car and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2013 at Sunset Gun
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“Wally Reid was a 180-pound diamond…” –Cecil B. DeMille Wallace Reid loved cars. When not working in pictures, the silent screen star would speed through Hollywood in a choice automobile, wildly tearing up roads in anything from a Marmon Coupe to a Stutz Convertible. Not just a well-heeled showboat Reid actually understood cars. He knew how to work on cars, he comprehended their mechanics and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2013 at Sunset Gun
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After finding this wonderfully tripppy Joan Crawford Pepsi promo, I've got Joan on my mind. With that, here's a repost of my piece on later-era Joan and Queen Bee. When Joan Crawford is angry, it's serious business. Many viewers may laugh at her ire, most especially later Crawford and her Straight Jacket-style histrionics (a movie I revere), but one should pause when doing so. Pause... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2013 at Sunset Gun
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From the archives: Today would have been Frances Farmer's 100th birthday. Here's a look at Frances, the movie, and Frances, the actress and icon. Oh, Frances Farmer. She was born 100 years ago today and for those of us who love cinema, the power of performance and brave, talented, intelligent "bad girls" who do not go gentle into that good night, we should feel a... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2013 at Sunset Gun
Posted Sep 4, 2013 at Sunset Gun
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I love Tuesday Weld. I'm going to sound melodramatic and swoony Tiny Tim here but, I love her so much it almost hurts. Lord Love a Duck, Wild in the Country, The Cincinnati Kid, Play It as It Lays, Who'll Stop the Rain, A Safe Place, I Walk the Line, Once Upon a Time in America, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Thief and on and on.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2013 at Sunset Gun
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Porter Wagoner shakes me up. He sings of the cold hard facts (of life), the promise of murder, lock-downs in rubber rooms, and the power of the lord. When he was alongside the beatific, brilliant Dolly Parton and her sweet face, her glittering peroxide hair and her plentiful bosom there was just something... profound. There always was with the blonde, Nudie-suit-wearing, murder-balladeering Wagoner. American, but... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2013 at Sunset Gun
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I blame Warren Oates. Or rather, his white suited, blood spattered beautiful loser named Bennie. This is the man who ruined me for all others -- romantically, sexually, heroically, pitifully, existentially, all of it -- throw in the filthy kitchen sink soaking a seeping red sack. I may never find a romantic paramour as powerful as Oates’ Bennie, or by extension, Sam Peckinpah, the man... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2013 at Sunset Gun
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Kim Morgan on "Tribute." From my piece at The Los Angeles Review of Books. One of the most personally arresting images I’ve ever seen of Marilyn Monroe came not from a movie or newsreel footage or one of her many photographs. It came from a blanket. Driving through Death Valley on a long road trip, I stopped in a tiny town for gas and a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2013 at Sunset Gun