Friday, December 19, 2014

Fridays With Hitchcock:
Back For Christmas

On the Seventh Day Of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me....

From Season 1 of ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, directed by Hitch himself, this nice little episode about an extremely henpecked husband who begins digging a wine cellar in the basement of his house before a business trip. But is it really a wine cellar?



One of the things that is great about this episode is how it is subtly demonstrated that the Husband is henpecked. The Wife keeps telling him what he likes and finishing his sentences in ways he never intended. It's some nice character writing by Francis M. Cockrell (who wrote one of my favorite movies INFERNO with Robert Ryan, plus a bunch of other great Hitchcock Presents episodes and some Perry Masons) based on a story by John Collier (who was famous for stories with twist endings).

Though the story is kind of leisurely paced, it does have some moments of suspense with the wife and the couple who was late for the going away party, and later the hotel maid at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

A nice little treat for the holidays about a gift that backfires.

And here are some fun ideas for your Hitchcock Christmas celebration from artist Grant Snider!



Buy This As A Poster!

Bill




HITCHCOCK: EXPERIMENTS IN TERROR

The perfect holiday gift!

Click here for more info!

HITCHCOCK DID IT FIRST!

We all know that Alfred Hitchcock was the Master Of Suspense, but did you know he was the most *experimental* filmmaker in history?

Contained Thrillers like “Buried”? Serial Protagonists like “Place Beyond The Pines”? Multiple Connecting Stories like “Pulp Fiction”? Same Story Multiple Times like “Run, Lola, Run”? This book focuses on 18 of Hitchcock’s 53 films with wild cinema and story experiments which paved the way for modern films. Almost one hundred different experiments that you may think are recent cinema or story inventions... but some date back to Hitchcock’s *silent* films! We’ll examine these experiments and how they work. Great for film makers, screenwriters, film fans, producers and directors.

Films Examined: “Rear Window”, “Psycho”, “Family Plot”, “Topaz”, “Rope”, “The Wrong Man”, “Easy Virtue”, “Lifeboat”, “Bon Voyage”, “Aventure Malgache”, “Elstree Calling”, “Dial M for Murder”, “Stage Fright”, “Champagne”, “Spellbound”, “I Confess”, and “The Trouble with Harry”, with glances at “Vertigo” and several others.

Professional screenwriter William C. Martell takes you into the world of The Master Of Suspense and shows you the daring experiments that changed cinema. Over 77,000 words.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thriller Thursday: The Grinch

On the Sixth Day Of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me...

Okay, not an episode of THRILLER, but Boris Karloff as the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. This is one of those Christmas classics that everyone my age grew up watching, and having Karloff be in an animated kid's film filled with songs is just... weird. William Henry Pratt (Karloff) was the host of THRILLER but also a legendary star of horror movies since the 1930s. He played Frankenstein's monster! He played The Mummy! And in some *great* Val Lewton horror movies like BEDLAM and ISLE OF THE DEAD (say that outloud). He was so famous as a horror actor, he starred in ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KILLER, BORIS KARLOFF. In the early sixties he starred in AIP's COMEDY OF TERRORS with Peter Lorre and Vincent Price. This guy was SCARY! So to put him in a cartoon aimed at kids was genius.

Here's the big song about his character...



And here's part of the ending...



Jim Carrey is no match for Karloff. You wonder who had the dumb idea to remake this as a live action movie, since nothing could be better than the original. They always seem to remake the great films (so that the remake seems terrible in comparison) instead of remake those films that had potential but didn't quite work (where the remake might be an improvement).

Bill

Karloff as Santa?








Buy the DVD.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On The Fifth Day Of Christmas:
BAD SANTA

On the Fifth Day Of Christmas, My True Love Game To Me...

Glenn Ficarra & John Requa's BAD SANTA is about a foul mouthed, alcoholic, angry department store Santa played to perfection by Billy Bob Thornton. He's not a nice guy, not looking for redemption, and not someone we'd ever want to hang out with in real life... but for ninety minutes in a cinema he's a whole lot of (mean spirited) fun. Here are a few of the reasons we may not like Billy Bob's character, but we can't tear ourselves away from watching him.



1) He's a rogue and a rebel. After a few days of crowded malls, listening to the same Christmas music over-and-over again, we may want to say "bah humbug!" to the whole Christmas experience... but that would be wrong. So we try to be cheerful and happy. Billy Bob does what we wish we could do - he rebels against everything cheerful and commercial about the Christmas season. He's fed up with the holiday season, and not afraid to show it. We may fantasize about knocking people out of the way at the mall, he *does it*. We secretly like people who break the rules and rebel against society - and what's a bigger symbol of society than Christmas?

2) We understand his bad behavior. He hates his job as a department store Santa, and we'd hate it, too. Kids sneeze all over him, wet their pants on his lap, demand toys, seem to speak in a foreign language (the kids ask for toys that he's never heard of - but expect him to know exactly what they're talking about), the kids (and parents) feel like they own him - he can't even eat his lunch in peace! If people kept bugging me on my lunch hour I'd probably get mad, too. He deals with the most crass and commercial aspects of Christmas, it's no wonder he's a Bah Humbugger.



3) We understand his character. BAD SANTA opens with Billy Bob sitting in a bar telling us about his abusive father - this is a guy who has never known love. Even his parents treated him badly. He's spent his entire life being abused, and now he's a bitter drunk. That may not be someone we identify with, but we can see how he became this angry guy. We're taken inside his miserable life. He's a guy with a chip on his shoulder, but the film explains where that chip came from. When his father died Billy Bob was left nothing except a basic knowledge of safe-cracking... which explains his current career. He doesn't want to be a department store Santa, it's just part of the department store robbery scheme. The key to writing a script with an unlikable character is making sure that we understand the character.

4) Someone to love. At first the snot-nosed Kid (Brett Kelly) is a nuisance - hanging around him, overly cheerful, a happy stalker. Then the Kid is an accidental helper - fighting off the crazed Gay rapist in the parking lot and providing Billy Bob with a place to hide out. But eventually a bond grows between the two - Billy Bob helps the Kid deal with the skateboard bullies and deal with his self esteem issues. He sees himself in the Kid - both have gotten the short end of the stick from society and are filled with self-loathing. By helping the kid, he's really helping himself. He's kind to the Kid, cares about the Kid, and we're able to see a softer side of his character.

And because the Kid worships him, we really hope he gets his act together... and we end up caring about him. The same goes for the cocktail waitress (Lauren Graham) he shacks up with. She may just be interested in him because of that weird Santa fetish, but she likes him. By giving him relationships with others, we have a chance to see him through their eyes.




5) Goal & Obstacle. Give any character a goal that requires struggle and we'll wonder if they can achieve that goal. Here the goal is to do a very bad thing - rob the department store on Christmas Eve. But a goal is a goal, and the obstacles are many. First we have the torture of being a department store Santa before the robbery, then we have his verbally abusive partner (Tony Cox) and his mercenary wife (Lauren Tom), then we have the *very* straight-laced Personnel Director (the late John Ritter), and the dangerous Head of Security for the department store (Bernie Mac).

6) Humor. You can have the most unlikeable character in the world, but if they're funny we'll hang around them for a couple of hours. This guy is sarcastic, but he's also funny because his behavior is completely inappropriate. He's the opposite of everything we expect in a Christmas movie. Whether he's screwing plus-sized women in the changing rooms or drinking on duty, he does those things we never expected a guy in a Santa suit to ever do on screen. When he comes up the escalator passed out, you can't help but laugh. His explanation for why he's wearing a fake beard is outrageously funny, and becomes a running gag throughout the film (the Kid walks in on Santa having sex with the Cocktail Waitress later in the film and calls her "Mrs. Claus' sister"). He's got a cynical (and funny) response to every situation.

Bill

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

On The Fourth Day Of Christmas:
THE SILENT PARTNER

On the Fourth Day Of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me...

THE SILENT PARTNER






It’s no secret that thrillers are my favorite genre, and I saw this Canadian gem when it was first released back in 1978. I have no idea if some critic called it Hitchcockian or not, but it has that STRANGERS ON A TRAIN vibe where two strangers become connected by crime. It also takes place during the Holiday Season with a background of Mall Santas and Holiday Parties and the Christmas Rush at stores... and a Santa with a gun.

Shy, chess playing Miles (Elliott Gould) is the head bank teller at a mall branch. He is approaching middle age, and this is the best it is ever going to get for him. He has a crush on the woman who is in charge of safety deposit boxes Julie (Susannah York) but she’s having an affair with the married bank manager. He has a dead end life, and part of that is not being very assertive.

During the busy Christmas season, Miles is in charge of all of the Merchant deposits from the mall... all of the money people spend on gifts and clothes and meals comes to his booth. Tens of thousands of dollars in *cash* every day. The bank manager trusts him with the money, but won’t recommend him for a promotion.

Miles discovers a deposit slip with a hold up not written on it in block letters... but with a distinctive “G”. Someone was planning on robbing the bank, then decided not to. Later he notices that one of the Mall Santas has a sign asking for donations to the poor... hand letter with the same distinctive “G”. That is the robber! The next day, Miles puts all of the big cash deposits in his lunch box instead of the cash drawer... and when the Mall Santa comes in and hands him the stick up note, Miles gives him all of the money in the drawer, then triggers the alarm... and puts his lunch box full of cash in his briefcase. The old Security Guard gets into a shoot out with the Mall Santa, but he gets away....



Everybody run! Santa's gotta gun!

Miles is interviewed on TV, the say his name... and also the amount stolen (which is much much more than the Mall Santa ended up with. So the Mall Santa calls Miles, tells them that they are *partners* in this robbery, and if he knows what is good for him he will share the money. This begins a great cat and mouse game between Miles and the vicious bank robber (Christopher Plummer) where each tries to outsmart the other without being caught by the police. The background is the holidays, and Miles ends up taking Julie to the Bank Manager’s Christmas Party so that the Bank Manager’s wife won’t figure out he’s cheating. This leads to Julie confiding that she is facing the same dead end as Miles... and they two hook up. While the Bank Robber makes Miles’ life hell in the background. Miles has to figure out some way to outsmart the Robber, without screwing up his new relationship with Julie. And it’s much more complicated than that! (a character gets their head cut off, Miles loses the money, all sorts of fun things happen!)



John Candy plays another teller who hooks up with the hottest woman in the film (the new teller hired as Christmas Help). This is a great thriller, edge of your seat suspense, and does an amazing job of quietly setting up later complications (the new bank’s vault will be surrounded by a massive underground wall of cement is mentioned in passing, and pays off much later!). A great little movie, and written by some guy named Curtis Hanson (who would later win an Oscar for L.A. CONFIDENTIAL). I love this movie so much that I tracked down the Danish novel it’s based on (“Think Of A Number”, found it in a mystery book store in London) and read it. The book ends differently (in the film Miles and Julia talk about running away from the city to some tropical paradise and starting over again... and that’s what happens in the book and that is where the Bank Robber finds them), but the story is basically the same and the book also takes place at Christmas Time.

Check this film out if you haven’t seen it!

Bill


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Monday, December 15, 2014

Lancelot Link: Adrian Messenger Edition

Lancelot Link Monday! He's making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out whose naughty and nice, Franklin Leonard's Black List comes out today! The Black List is a list of best unproduced screenplays of the year, voted on by development execs from production companies and studios. Note that it's not The Best Unsold Screenplays... most of these have been sold and are heading towards production, just haven't been produced as of today. In honor of that, many of today's links feature lists. There's The Hit List, which is competition for the Black List, plus some other fun list links. When will someone do a list of Best Unsold Screenplays? While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...




Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...


1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Exodus.......................... $24,500,000
2 MockingJay 1.................... $13,200,000
3 Penguins......................... $7,300,000
4 Top Five......................... $7,210,000
5 Big Hero......................... $6,145,000
6 Interstellar..................... $5,500,000
7 Horr Bosses 2.................... $4,630,000
8 Dumb Dumber 2.................... $2,757,000
9 Everything....................... $2,525,000
10 Wild............................. $1,550,000


2) Death Of The Midrange Movie

3) List Of The Best Undistributed Films Of 2014.

4) Add New Bond Script To List Of Stuff In Sony Hack.

5) List Of Every Episode of STAR TREK, Ranked.

6) 2014 Hit List (Screenplays).

7) The Black List 2014.

8) List Of 19 Worst Movies Of 2014.

9) List Of Golden Globe Nominations.

10) List Of Universal Blockbusters Released In 2014.

11) List Of Film Grants ($$$) You Can Apply For.

12) List Of Studios Al Pacino Wants To Work With...

And the Car Chase Of The Week:



Okay, more of a fox chase... from THE LIST OF ADRIAN MESSENGER, score by the amazing Jerry Goldsmith.

Bill

Sunday, December 14, 2014

On The Second Day Of Christmas:
BLACK CHRISTMAS

On the Second Day Of Christmas, my true love gave to me...





Usually when we think of director Bob Clark and Christmas, we think of his classic film A CHRISTMAS STORY about that wacky family (that's much like yours and mine) and that kid's quest for a Red Ryder BB gun... but I'm trying to avoid the obvious and find holiday films in unexpected genres.

Like Bob Clark's horror masterpiece BLACK CHRISTMAS - the original "We've traced the call... it's coming from INSIDE the house!" movie. The concept is great, a college sorority house as the girls leave to head home for the holidays one by one... but *are* they going home? Or are they being murdered by a maniac and stored up in the attic? This film turns the holiday break background into mystery and suspense.

The great thing about this film - other than the call coming from inside the house - is the way the characters turn against each other when the bodies begin to pop up. Also a great cast - Olivia Hussey who was Juliet in ROMEO & JULIET plays the lead, Keir Dullea from some damned Kubrick movie was her boyfriend, John Saxon plays the cop in a horror movie for the first time, Andrea Martin from SECOND CITY is one of the gals, Margot Kidder is *hot* as one of the other gals - she had already starred in Brian DePalma's SISTERS and the next year would play the female lead in THE GREAT WALDO PEPPER opposite some guy named Redford. So we have this great all star cast in a horror film that, like John Carpenter's THE THING, gets much of its mileage by having the characters suspect each other; and also gives us a logical possibility that no one has been murdered... and it's all in Olivia Hussey's head.




This film has a couple of amazing "you can't do that in a movie" twists, including one where we are *sure* we know who the killer is... and are then proven wrong *after* they have been killed. Hey, that's kind of like THE THING, too!

Also there's a great sense of Holiday humor, plus Margot's phone number....

But the main thing about BLACK CHRISTMAS is that it's spooky and probably the first "kill a bunch of people in a house" movie. Okay, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE was released the same year, so it may have technically been the second movie with that basic plot - but BLACK CHRISTMAS is the version of that basic plot that you can trace through HALLOWEEN to SCREAM. In fact, HALLOWEEN began as a sequel to BLACK CHRISTMAS. And it's a great holiday film, since Christmas is going on in the background. A disturbing double bill with Bob Clark's CHRISTMAS STORY... something to warm your heart, then cut it out with a rusty knife!




Bill

Saturday, December 13, 2014

On The First Day Of Christmas:
The Two JACK FROSTS

When Hollywood isn't remaking classics or turning bad TV shows into films, they are ripping off B Movies and hoping that no one will notice. It's bad enough that three years after that HBO World Premiere movie about the scummy deep-core drillers trying to plant nukes in a killer asteroid hurtling toward Earth (WITHIN THE ROCK), Hollywood does their big budget rip-off version (ARMAGEDDON)... or when the year after my HBO World Premiere movie VIRTUAL COMBAT was in the can, Paramount buys a script with the exact same plot called VIRTUOSITY... or when three years after my NIGHT HUNTER premieres on CineMax, New Line does a scene-for-scene remake called BLADE. But now Hollywood is ripping off obscure direct to video flicks.




Like JACK FROST (1996)... becoming JACK FROST (1998).

Yes, kids, there WAS an early frost.

In a fit of masochism, I decided to watch both the 1996 B horror movie version from A-Pix and the big budget 1998 family film version from Warner Bros. and here is my report...

CONCEPT:

In JACK FROST (1998) Michael Keaton plays a killer blues singer named Jack Frost who gets killed in snow storm related car accident on the way to a gig (the biggest day of his life) and is reincarnated as a talking snowman.

In JACK FROST (1996) Scott MacDonald plays a serial killer with the blues named Jack Frost who gets killed in a snow storm related car accident on the way to his execution (the last day of his life) and is reincarnated as a talking, killing snowman.

In JACK FROST (1998) Joseph Cross is Keaton s neglected son, yearning for his father s attention... but dad is too busy with his career. Dad constantly lies to his son, flakes out on an important hockey game, then is too busy to spend Christmas with the family because he has a gig to play.

In JACK FROST (1996) Zack Eginion is the Sheriff (Chris Allport)'s neglected son, yearning for his father s attention... but dad is too busy with his career. Dad doesn't lie to his son, doesn't flake out, but is too busy dealing with a series of gory murders to spend Christmas with the family.

MAN AND SNOWMAN:




In JACK FROST (1998) musician Jack Frost is reincarnated as a snowman after his son plays a magic harmonica.

In JACK FROST (1996) killer Jack Frost is reincarnated as a snowman after he gets splashed with top secret government DNA goo transported in a tanker truck.

In BOTH versions of JACK FROST there is a touching, emotional scene where the lonely son puts the eyes, nose, buttons and hat on the snowman, unaware that it is alive! Really creepy stuff! You expect the snowman to grab the kid at any minute!

JACK'S BACK:

In JACK FROST (1998) Henry Rollins plays a guy who freaks out when he sees the walking, talking snowman, and spends the rest of the film running through town acting crazy.

In JACK FROST (1996) F. William Parker plays a guy who freaks out when he sees the walking, talking snowman, and spends the rest of the film running through town acting crazy.

In JACK FROST (1998) the snowman is created by expensive computer animation, but the black button eyes... black as coal, emotionless, evil... make him look creepy.

In JACK FROST (1996) the snowman is some guy in a bad costume, but the carrot nose and button eyes... cartoonish, obviously fake... make him look silly.

JACK BE NIMBLE:

In BOTH versions of JACK FROST the snowman removes his head and holds it up so that he can see through a high window.

THOSE MEAN BULLY KIDS:

In JACK FROST (1998) the son gets into a snowball fight with a gang of bully snowboarder kids, and is saved when Jack Frost the snowman pummels the lead bully kid with thousands of snowballs. Hooray!

In JACK FROST (1996) the son gets into a fight with a gang of bully sledging kids, and is saved when Jack Frost the snowman cuts of the lead bully kid s head with a sledge blade. Yech!

CRUEL SCENES (part 1):




In JACK FROST (1998) there is a scene where a dog rips off Jack Frost's arm! A scene where Jack Frost is hit by a snowplow and dumped into a snow bank! A scene where Jack Frost's head falls off, and he makes a few smart-ass remarks before putting it back on.

In JACK FROST (1996) there is a scene where Jack Frost smashes a woman's face into tree decorations until she dies! A scene where Jack Frost shoves an axe handle down a guy s throat! A scene where Jack Frost s head falls off, and he makes a few smart-ass remarks before putting it back on.

In JACK FROST (1998) there is a creepy scene where Jack Frost (snowman) follows the son around, stalking him, frightening him.

In JACK FROST (1996) there is a creepy scene where Jack Frost (snowman) follows the son around, stalking him, frightening him.

JACK THE RIPPER:

In JACK FROST (1998) there is a terrifying scene where the son hangs off the edge of a cliff! A frightening scene where bully kids are smashed flat by a giant Indiana Jones snowball! A scary scene where a bully kid rolls down a cliff!

In JACK FROST (1996) there is a really silly scene where a babe gets naked and takes a bath... not knowing that the water in the tub is really Jack Frost in his liquid state. Sort of Jack and Jill in a pail of water...

NIPPING AT YOUR TOES:




JACK FROST (1998) has a suspense scene where the babelicious mom (Kelly Preston) is about to discover the walking, talking, smart-ass snowman is in her kitchen after noticing a big wet footprint/puddle on the linoleum.

JACK FROST (1996) has a suspense scene where the babelicious mom (Eileen Seeley) is about to discover the walking, talking, smart-ass snowman is in her kitchen after noticing a big wet footprint/puddle on the linoleum.

EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK:

In BOTH versions of JACK FROST a leaky kitchen sink in babelicious mom's house figures into the plot.

THE SNOWMAN TALKS!

Sample funny dialogue from JACK FROST (1998) - "You the man!" "No, YOU the man!" "No, I'm the SNOW man!" (Jack and his son bonding)

Sample funny dialogue from JACK FROST (1996) - "Hey! I can see your house from here!" (Jack catapulted into the air)

YOU DON'T KNOW JACK:




In BOTH versions of JACK FROST no one seems to find anything unusual or silly about a walking, talking, wise-ass snowman. It's as if this kind of thing happens every day. In the big budget family film version, the son has no problem believing in the talking snowman, but needs to be convinced that it's his musician dad, Jack Frost, reincarnated.

In the B movie horror version, the FBI and Sheriff have no trouble believing that the talking snowman is killing people, or that it's really serial killer Jack Frost reincarnated. The only characters who think a talking snowman is a crazy idea are portrayed as crazy themselves. Both films never try to come up with a rational explanation for why a guy would be reincarnated as a snowman, instead they try (and fail) to create a world where being reincarnated as a snowman is a normal occurrence. (Yeah, that happened to my Uncle Phil... my Uncle Harvey was reincarnated as an invisible rabbit...)

In JACK FROST (1998) the son tells the bully that the talking snowman is his dad, and the bully JUST BELIEVES HIM! Then, for some dumb reason, becomes the son's friend/helper! Huh?

In JACK FROST (1996) a scientist tells the FBI agent that the talking snowman is the serial killer, and the FBI agent JUST BELIEVES HIM! Then, for some dumb reason, the FBI agent and scientist team up to capture the snowman! Huh?

I'M MELTING:

In JACK FROST (1998) Jack's days are numbered because a warm front is moving in, melting the snow on the town's streets. In one scene, the son threatens Jack Frost with a hair dryer... really sick, if you consider it s his reincarnated dad!

In JACK FROST (1996) they filmed someplace where there wasn't any snow on the streets in the first place... but they spread around some white "snow blankets" to make it look like winter. It looks like it's about 80 degrees in most of the scenes. You wonder what effect heat has on Jack Frost. In one scene, the Sheriff threatens Jack Frost with a hair dryer... really confusing if you consider that Jack Frost has the power to turn into water in order to sneak under locked doors, then re-freeze himself into a snowman. If they blast him with hair dryers, why doesn't he just use his re-freezing powers.

JACK IN THE BOX:

In JACK FROST (1998) the son tries to keep Jack from melting by jamming him inside the kitchen freezer... almost caught by mom when she notices the melting ice cubes.

In JACK FROST (1996) Jack gets the drop on some teenagers by jamming himself in the kitchen freezer... then attacking when they look for ice cubes.

JACKING OFF:

In the late JACK FROST (1998) the snowman gets knocked to pieces, and re-assembles himself WRONG! Head in the wrong place, arms in the wrong place, etc. Of course, he makes a wise-ass remark about it.

In the early JACK FROST (1996) the snowman gets knocked to pieces, and re-assembles himself WRONG! Head in the wrong place, arms in the wrong place, etc. Of course, he makes a wise-ass remark: "Look, I'm a Picasso!"

CRUEL SCENES (part 2):




In JACK FROST (1998) in a tender, touching scene, the son slams holes in his reincarnated snowman dad with hockey pucks - about a dozen holes - you can see right through all of them! But Jack scares the hell out of his son by sneaking up behind him and yelling BOOOO! a couple of times as revenge. Jack Frost ties a dog to a sledge and WHIPS IT as if it s a dog team! But still, Frost MELTS in the heat - sizzling across a hot asphalt parking lot... losing many of his precious bodily fluids! And, did I mention the son trying to melt his ass with a hair dryer?

In JACK FROST (1996) they use hair dryers to melt half of Jack's head off, stab him with ice picks, throw him out a window, run over him with a car, and toss him in a furnace. Actually, nothing in the horror movie version holds a candle to the cruel, evil, sick stuff that happens in the family film version!

I ONLY HAVE ICE FOR YOU:

In the later FROST, the son gets his snowman dad into the mountains before he melts. But snowman dad tells the kid that his job on earth is over (I guess he scared the crap out of enough people) and it s time for him to move on. But Jack has seen Spielberg s E.T. in his pre-snowman days, so he tells his son, "If you ever need me, I'll be right here," and touches the kid's heart. Then there s a bunch of special effects and the snowman seems to blow away... up to heaven!

In the early FROST, they kill him by forcing him into a pick-up truck bed filled with anti-freeze. Jack dissolves, his arm falls off, and other fake looking effects happen and the snowman melts away... down to hell!

CONCLUSIONS:

BOTH versions of JACK FROST end with white credits on a black background, with cute little cartoons of snowmen in the margins. I swear - it's the exact same credit sequence! (Only the names were changed to protect the guilty!) Both end title rolls have jokes hidden in the credits, with the family film claiming that "No Snowmen Were Harmed In The Making Of This Film".

Come on! Of the two JACK FROSTs, the family comedy provides more horror and cruelty, while the horror version is actually funnier! The horror version actually has better family values, and more characters with more morals! It s a strange, strange world we live in, Master Jack!

- Bill



Click here for more info!

SALE: $4.99 until January 17, 2014. REGULAR PRICE: $7.99

HITCHCOCK DID IT FIRST!

We all know that Alfred Hitchcock was the Master Of Suspense, but did you know he was the most *experimental* filmmaker in history?

Contained Thrillers like “Buried”? Serial Protagonists like “Place Beyond The Pines”? Multiple Connecting Stories like “Pulp Fiction”? Same Story Multiple Times like “Run, Lola, Run”? This book focuses on 18 of Hitchcock’s 53 films with wild cinema and story experiments which paved the way for modern films. Almost one hundred different experiments that you may think are recent cinema or story inventions... but some date back to Hitchcock’s *silent* films! We’ll examine these experiments and how they work. Great for film makers, screenwriters, film fans, producers and directors.

Films Examined: “Rear Window”, “Psycho”, “Family Plot”, “Topaz”, “Rope”, “The Wrong Man”, “Easy Virtue”, “Lifeboat”, “Bon Voyage”, “Aventure Malgache”, “Elstree Calling”, “Dial M for Murder”, “Stage Fright”, “Champagne”, “Spellbound”, “I Confess”, and “The Trouble with Harry”, with glances at “Vertigo” and several others.

Professional screenwriter William C. Martell takes you into the world of The Master Of Suspense and shows you the daring experiments that changed cinema. Over 77,000 words.

CLICK HERE!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fridays With Hitchcock:
Robert Rodriguez on Spellbound

Fridays With Hitchcock this week features the director of EL MARIACHI Robert Rodriguez on that wacky dream sequence in SPELLBOUND:



And here is that dream sequence:



Bill



Click here for more info!

HITCHCOCK DID IT FIRST!

We all know that Alfred Hitchcock was the Master Of Suspense, but did you know he was the most *experimental* filmmaker in history?

Contained Thrillers like “Buried”? Serial Protagonists like “Place Beyond The Pines”? Multiple Connecting Stories like “Pulp Fiction”? Same Story Multiple Times like “Run, Lola, Run”? This book focuses on 18 of Hitchcock’s 53 films with wild cinema and story experiments which paved the way for modern films. Almost one hundred different experiments that you may think are recent cinema or story inventions... but some date back to Hitchcock’s *silent* films! We’ll examine these experiments and how they work. Great for film makers, screenwriters, film fans, producers and directors.

Films Examined: “Rear Window”, “Psycho”, “Family Plot”, “Topaz”, “Rope”, “The Wrong Man”, “Easy Virtue”, “Lifeboat”, “Bon Voyage”, “Aventure Malgache”, “Elstree Calling”, “Dial M for Murder”, “Stage Fright”, “Champagne”, “Spellbound”, “I Confess”, and “The Trouble with Harry”, with glances at “Vertigo” and several others.

Professional screenwriter William C. Martell takes you into the world of The Master Of Suspense and shows you the daring experiments that changed cinema. Over 77,000 words.

Click here for more info!

Bill

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What Else You Got?

From March 2010...

You don’t only need more than one script, you need more than one story.

BREAKING AWAY (1979) written by Steve Tesich, is one of my favorite movies. Hey, working class guys and bicycles, how could it not be? Tesich won Best Original Screenplay Oscar for that script, and if you’re on the Script Secrets newsletter mailing list, this month there was a nice big article about that film that used DVD box art from Tesich’s other films as art. Because I loved BREAKING AWAY so much when it came out, I became a huge fan of the screenwriter and tracked down every other movie he wrote and was in line to see it on opening day. Though all of them featured working class guy leads, none were as good as BREAKING AWAY. The one that came closest was his adaptation of THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, a novel I had read before seeing the movie. Tesich died with only six movies...





Last week the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles showed 2 of Tesich’s films, EYEWITNESS and FOUR FRIENDS - both of which I had seen on opening day. I did not like FOUR FRIENDS at all back then, but thought EYEWITNESS was okay - which is not the same as good. Later on I would rent EYEWITNESS on VHS a couple of times, and it was watchable, had some great stuff, but nothing I wanted to buy. So I haven’t seen either film in a long time, and thought I’d zip over to Hollywood and watch them again.

The American Cinematheque is like a film museum - they show older movies and foreign films and cutting edge indie films that have no distrib. It’s funny, but you’d think Los Angeles would be full of things like this... but it is not. I used to go to revival cinemas in the Bay Area all the time - and practically lived in the UC Theater in Berkeley where they had a different double bill every night, and “theme days” so that you could see every John Huston movie on Tuesday nights... get that day off from work! But in Los Angeles, movie capitol of the world, we have the American Cinematheque at Grauman’s Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, and the New Beverly down the street (now part owned by Quentin Tarantino) and the Silent Movie House between them. That’s pretty much it. Oh, the Nu Art and the Aero in Santa Monica. And the cinemas are not crowded - every time I go to the Nu Art I practically have the cinema to myself.

When I arrived at the Egyptian, it was almost empty... and pretty much stayed that way.

That’s a shame. In fact, it’s *shameful*.

Here we are in the film capitol, and no one is going to see films! The American Cinematheque has all of these great programs, and usually gets some great guest speakers between films. So they showed a couple of lost grindhouse movies a couple of nights ago and had stars and cinematographer and just about every living person involved in these two films made in the 70s. It’s like *live* DVD extras. And when they do these things... a couple more people show up. I went to one last year where there were more people on the panel between the movies than in the cinema seats! Hey, this is LA, can we get a full house? Can some studios push their employees to see some of these films? Would be wonderful if the development people would show up and see some films... I tend to think the priorities in the film biz get mixed up - it is about making movies. Movies are more important than anything else. If I ran a studio, I’d have a pop quiz every once in a while where I asked everyone at the studio to tell me what film they had seen in a cinema last week, and anyone who didn’t go to the movies gets fired. Bam, outta here. “Hey, I’m the head of production, I don’t have time to...” Bam, outta here. If you’re gonna make ‘em, you gotta watch ‘em.

So - studios and people who love film and live in Los Angeles - please go to the movies.

Side note - about 15 years ago, the American Cinematheque had no home cinema and was kind of squatting at the Chaplin Cinema at Raleigh Studios (across from Paramount). Those were heady days for me - I had movies shooting and would go to see a Sam Fuller double bill and Sam Fuller was there! So were all kinds of hot shot young filmmakers and screenwriters. I had “season tickets” to the Fuller movies and had a big name director sitting behind me and a screenwriter who was the next big thing in the chair beside me. That little cinema was packed! Then they renovated the Egyptian - this big old movie palace like it’s more famous sister Grauman’s Chinese - and had a permanent home... and people seemed to stop going. I don’t think one thing caused the other, I think there may have been some sort of tidal shift in the business, and all of those movie addicts who worked in the biz were replaced by ex-lawyers and ex-agents and dealmakers. People who didn’t seem to need to see pre-code movies with female nudity from the early 1930s or “Race” westerns (Black cowboys!) or Fritz Lang thrillers from the 30s and 40s. *I* needed to see all of those films.

I also needed to see if the Tesich films were better than I remembered them. The guy had written one of my favorite films... how could I dislike FOUR FRIENDS those many years ago? Was I in a bad mood the day I saw it? Was I just too young to get it? The film was directed by Arthur Penn (BONNIE AND CLYDE, LITTLE BIG MAN) and written by an Oscar Winner.

THE MOVIES...


The small group of us turn off our cell phones, house lights go down, and...



FOUR FRIENDS (1981) was a mess. It’s obviously Tesich’s autobiography - a little boy and his mother come from Yugoslavia to live with his father - who works in the steel mills. Father ain’t the type to hug anyone. Then we get the first of about two dozen jumps ahead in time, since this is the characters *entire life* in one film. Now our boy Danny is in high school in the early 60s and played by Craig Wasson (BODY DOUBLE) and we also meet the other three friends: Jim Metzler (guest star on every TV show you can think of, star of the 2 NORTH AND SOUTH miniseries) as Tom, Michael Huddelston (who now plays pudgy middle aged guys) as David, and Jodi Thelen as the woman all 3 guys love, Georgia. The film has a half dozen different narrators, and instead of all being important characters in the story, our first narrator is Georgia’s next door neighbor. We only see her looking out the window of her house - she is not really a character in the story at all!

There is no main plot at all - except Danny’s life - but there are dozens of subplots. I’d list them all, but I’d have to pay more for bandwidth. Danny and his dad. Danny and his flute (plays it in band). Danny and his Black friend. Danny and his anti-steel-mill rant at career day. A bunch of others in this small High School segment of the film, but the main one is probably that Danny is in love with Georgia, when she wants to sleep with him thinks it’s too soon and turns her down, so she sleeps with the other two guys (separately). And gets pregnant by one of them. Oh, man - I forgot the school bully subplot! That one even plays out later in the film! Did I forget any other subplots that come back later?

To add to the story-mess, after high school the four friends split up and go their separate ways... So that we can introduce a whole new cast when Danny goes to college!

Film is a tonal mess, too. It has no genre at all, and seems to jump between teen sex comedy and class-warfare drama and druggy film and epic romance and TAXI DRIVER.

Yes, TAXI DRIVER... in more ways than one!

Anyway, Danny goes away to college where he has a disabled roommate (which is a whole subplot) and both guys are virgins and want to get laid. Their dorm room is wall-to-wall Playboy centerfolds and there are jokes about wacking off, etc, It’s ANIMAL HOUSE or AMERICAN PIE or whatever. Danny falls for his roommate’s hot sister, proposes to her, but her parents are filthy rich and they disapprove of him (especially her father played by James Leo Herilhey who wrote MIDNIGHT COWBOY and overacts like you would not believe. It’s a shame that he didn’t have any scenes with Georgia, because that actress is so over the top you’d think she was on some Broadway stage trying to make sure the people in the back rows can see her gestures.)

Anyway, rich father finally agrees to the wedding and we get this big epic wedding scene where working class Danny seems out of place, and then he jokes with his college roommate guy - hey, we’re kind of back in AMERICAN PIE territory for a moment, and then Danny’s new father-in-law gives a toast to the bride and groom and halfway through the toast pulls out a gun and shoots his daughter and Danny and then himself in the head. WTF?

In the middle of this mostly romantic and comedic streak when this hardcore violence erupts out of nowhere! Though there are some clues to the father-in-law being a bit wacky, the problem is that his motivations are kind of script spackled in there and none of the characters *behave* as they should before the incident. It’s as if *after* he’d written the shooting scene he went back and threw in a bit to justify it... but then didn’t change anything in between so it still comes off unmotivated.

Anyway, Danny survives, though he has lost an eye... except it seems to grow back later (huh?) and he gets a job driving a taxi, because that way he can introduce a whole new cast... and see Danny hit rock bottom - kind of a homeless taxi driver.

Meanwhile, Georgia and David are married and raising Tom’s baby and Georgia decides to split for New York to find herself and gets involved with hippies and drugs and some sort of glam-rock thing. She goes to a far out party with her friend where there is sex and drugs and rock and roll... and a pretty new sports car in the middle of the loft where the party takes place. Everything is wild and fun and hippish! Her friend - who has just been introduced and I’m not even sure what her name is - hops in that sports car in the middle of the party, and it starts and goes into reverse and zooms out of the top story loft and plummets to the street below where it explodes like something in a Michael Bay film. WTF? One minute a swinging good time, the next Georgia’s friend is incinerated.

While the tone is jumping around from light to dark to just weird, the story is too. Danny meets a nurse and they have a relationship and then Georgia shows up and Danny finally gets a chance to sleep with her, then she splits... and Danny’s relationship with the nurse is over and Danny becomes a steelworker like his dad and has a relationship with some other girl and we get more and more incidents and subplots and things that probably happened in Tesich’s life but don’t mean anything, and then he goes home to patch things up with his dad and... well, remember that bully from high school? He’s a cop now and there’s a zany comedy bar-room brawl with him, that Danny wins by barfing on him, and I’ve left out some subplot stuff - his Black friend from high school marching with Martin Luther King (off screen) and his college roommate dying and not being able to see man landing on the moon and Dave losing his toupee and Tom marrying a Vietnamese woman have having two daughters but still visiting the kid he had with Georgia and... well, there just isn’t enough bandwidth for all of it. Danny’s eye grows back and he ends up with Georgia at the end... but that hasn’t resolved his issues with his stern father, so we get some scenes about that. Finally it ends!

EYEWITNESS


House lights go up at the Egyptian... and when the lights go back down for the second film, we’ve lost a chunk of the audience.



EYEWITNESS is an okay film - with a great thriller concept. William Hurt plays a janitor in an office building who discovers the body of one of the tenants - an evil Vietnamese ex-General who got Hurt’s fellow janitor, played by James Woods at his James Woodiest, fired. Hurt worries that Woods may have killed the guy, so when the police question him (Detective #2 played by Morgan Freeman) he lies and says Woods hasn’t been at the building since he was fired. Actually, Woods was there the day of the murder. On his way out, he spots hot TV reporter Sigourney Weaver and realizes this is his chance to try and charm her into bed. He offers an exclusive interview... then hits on her on camera. In order to keep seeing Weaver, he has to claim to have information about the murder... yet never give it to her. Problem is, evil Vietnamese hit dudes overhear him and come after him. This is a cool idea - but the script pretty much ignores it. Sure, every once in a while some inept action scene pops up, but the story spends as much time on the romance and on all of these subplots (including Hurt’s romantic relationship with Wood’s sister played by Pam Reed, which includes an *amazing* great scene where they profess their non-love for each other) and Weaver’s romance with pretty-man Christopher Plummer who is involved in raising money for Jewish causes (huh?) and several scenes about horses and some scenes about Hurt's dog who is kind of the canine version of Burt Kwouk from the PINK PANTHER movies. Oh, and some *great* stuff with Kenneth McMillan as his disabled and drunken dad. But it’s a lot of light dramedy stuff crammed into a thriller concept.

The thriller scenes do not work at all. There’s a chase scene that’s okay... but a scene where bad guys give Hurt’s dog rabies or something as a way to kill him makes no sense at all, and the big action end (sarcasm) where Hurt fights the villain in a Manhattan indoor horse barn in some *building* makes no sense at all. Not enough thriller scenes and the ones we get don’t work at all. Oh, and who the villains are and what they’re after? Weirdest and most unbelievable coincidence in film history. Kind of a “Are You Effing Kidding Me?” moment.

And that’s the big problem, here. Tesich wrote one great script, did a really good adaptation... but seemed unable to do anything else. He did not seem to have the skills to pull of a thriller, and FOUR FRIENDS may be his life story but it has no story. The thing I liked about the movies was the working class background of his characters - whether it’s working in a steel mill or working as a building’s janitor, he shows real people doing real work and makes it part of the story. We need more of that. But it seems as if he’s just parting out the same story again and again. Like he has *one* story to tell - educated working class guy locks horns with immigrant father and enjoys bike riding (did I mention that aspect of EYEWITNESS? Sorry... and AMERICAN FLYERS is all about bike racing). The relationship between Danny and Tom in FOUR FRIENDS is similar to the relationship between Hurt and Woods in EYEWITNESS. It as if he has a few dozen scenes and a few dozen characters that he rearranges to make a different script.



We all have our “mega themes” that pop up in our scripts - those elements of our lives that show up in many of our character’s lives. That’s fine, in fact - that’s great. We want our screenplays to be personal rather than generic. But we need to have *many* stories to tell, and *different* stories, and be able to work within some popular *genre* so that once we’ve won our Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and the phone starts ringing with people who want to buy our next original screenplay or have us come in and pitch stories, we can keep our writing career going.

There’s a script tip in rotation about having enough screenplays finished, so that when someone reads a script and likes it but doesn’t want to buy it and asks “What else you got?” you can give them some other script... and *keep* giving them scripts until they find one they want to make or hire you to write a script for them. You *need* more than one good screenplay...

But you also need the screenplays to be different stories with different characters. If all of your scripts are the same basic story with the names changed - or just similar stories - you burn out fast. Chances are, that producer is going to be reading script #2 and wonder why it all seems so familiar. Did he pick up script #1 by mistake? Even though it is smart to specialize in one genre, you want different stories within that genre. That means you need to be able to come up with dozens, maybe hundreds, of different stories... and different characters... and different scenes.

One script may open the door for you, but one script is not a career. If you spend 25 or more years writing screenplays and get paid for one script or assignment every year - that’s at least 25 *different* stories you’re going to need... but actually maybe 4 or 5 times that many, because you will also need fresh new stories for the scripts and pitches that *do not sell*. When I get called in to pitch ideas for some cable producer, I have to pitch 5 *different* story ideas the day after tomorrow... and if I get a call like that every month? That's 60 ideas a year - 60 *different* ideas a year. That’s a lot of different stories - do you have many different stories with different characters? Can you imagine yourself *writing* 100 different stories in your career? Do you have that many stories in you?

Hey, Steve Tesich won an Oscar for BREAKING AWAY, but I don’t think anyone will really remember his other films. (There *are* people who saw FOUR FRIENDS as kids and loved it, a small buy seemingly loyal fan base - the film is filled with topless scenes, has an anti-authority lead character, and deals with father-son issues... many teen boys liked these aspects - but the film was a flop when it was released and was not a hit on VHS or DVD... and the print the American Cinematheque showed was old and faded because there is no demand for it today.) I think someone should remake the *concept* of EYEWITNESS, just not the script... but the other films he wrote (with the exception of GARP) are forgotten now and will only become more forgotten as time goes on.

You don’t only need more than one script, you need more than one story.

* AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE
* NEW BEVERLY CINEMA
* SILENT MOVIES ON FAIRFAX
* Nuart Theater


- Bill
IMPORTANT UPDATE:

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: OPENING GRABBERS - and old movies from the 1940s that took the time to introduce characters and stories... not like today's movies.
Dinner: Togos Tuna sandwich... whole wheat.
Bicycle: Zipped up to NoHo, then managed to get back to the Ventura & Vineland Starbucks with *perfect* timing as people began leaving for dinner.
Pages: Well, finished and turned in my interview with the A-Team writers only one day late... and then we had that quake, and now I'm working on the new assignment.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Trailer Tuesday: EDDIE PRESLEY (1992)

What's the use of having a blog is you can't plug your friends' movies?

EDDIE PRESLEY (1992)

Directed by: Jeff Burr
Written by: Duane Whitaker
Starring: Duane Whitaker, Clu Gulager, Roscoe Lee Browne, Danny Roebuck, Quentin Tarantino, Lawrence Tierney, Tim Thomerson, Rusty Cundiff, Bruce Campbell, a million others.

A few years back the Egyptian Cinema did a double bill of indies written by my friend Duane, who I may be having coffee with as you read this. You know Duane as the Pawnshop Owner from PULP FICTION, but he's one of those guys who pops up in a bunch of movies playing redneck blue collar guys. EDDIE PRESLEY looked great on the big screen. I think I had seen it once before in the cinema, some others times on video. To me, what is strange about the film is that it's based on Duane's one man stage show... but that's only the last third of the film - about 40 minutes of screen time. I think the hour of material Duane wrote to more-or-less pad it out is more entertaining than the play material - the padding is the kind of stuff that is Duane's artistic sweet spot: he's the Robert Altman or PT Anderson of broken Hollywood dreams. Hmm, maybe some background...



Duane’s one man show was about this Elvis impersonator whose performance goes wrong and ends up having a complete nervous breakdown on stage and tells his life story and sings a couple of songs. It’s this crazy, funny monologue. Well, my friend Jeff, who directed the movie, had just gone through absolute hell on TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3 - New Line had micro-managed the film, wanted him to tone the horror way down so that they could get a more favorable rating and play to a wider audience, then took the film away from him in editing and the film they released bombed because it was wimpy and the horror was tame. The CHAINSAW movies are about a guy with a chainsaw who chainsaws people - you can’t exactly make the PG-13 version of that and have it work. So Jeff was pissed off at the studio system and wanted to make his own movie his own way... and Duane, who had played a role in TCM3 had this one man show, and Jeff saw it and thought they could expand it into a feature. Because this was an indie film, they found the money completely outside the system - private investors. They made the film and it was released on video by a really small distrib (which also released John Lee Hancock’s first film) and that was basically that. Oh, the big coup for EDDIE PRESLEY was that it was the first movie bought by The Sundance Channel.

The 60 minutes that is not Eddie Presley on stage having a complete breakdown are about the days leading up to that performance, plus some great flashbacks in black & white to Eddie’s life before he ended up in Hollywood. Eddie lives in his van parked on the street in Hollywood - inside the van is a shrine to his past, when he used to make a living touring small-to-medium venues as Eddie Presley. He picks up his messages on a pay phone and works as a security guard at night. The Back Door Club is the location for the end of the film, the Van is a location, the Security Job is another location, and there’s also the Greasy Spoon Diner - that’s about it for locations.

In the Security Guard story thread, Ted Raimi is one of the other guards, and Lawrence Tierney is the hardass supervisor with a photo album of sleeping guard Poloroids. Willard Pugh plays another security guard and there's a nervous female security guard (Harri James) who has a major crush on Eddie. Raimi and Pugh and James’ characters and Eddie are best friends - and they would do anything to see him succeed. When he finally gets his gig at the Back Door Club, they take the night off from work so they can see him... and pull some favors from friends and friends-of-friends to get him a cut-rate limo to take him to the gig.

In order to stay awake on these night shifts so that he doesn’t get fired, Eddie fills his thermos at a greasy spoon cafe filled with Hollywood losers of all types... plus his girlfriend works there as a waitress. She’ll fill the thermos if the boss isn’t looking, and maybe get him a free breakfast. She wants to actually go out on a real date - but Eddie’s always broke. She’s a wanna-be actress, but has had no luck so far landing a role in anything. These characters in the Diner Thread are Duane’s forte - the struggling artists who litter the streets of Hollywood trying to hang onto their dreams but knowing that they are only dreams... and the reality is that they're a waitress. When Eddie’s not in the diner, there’s a skanky female porn star trying to make the moves on his waitress with promises of leading roles in adult entertainment... is a part a part? Will she do porn?




The other diner regulars are a colorful group, from the toll-taker guy who requires a cigarette from everyone who passes by his seat at the counter, to my favorite character in the film - Clu Gulager's sleazy agent. Hair badly dyed jet black, he tells prospective clients (all gals fresh off the bus) that he has major connections and can make them into stars... and when the pay phone on the wall behind him rings, he answers it with his talent agency name. I've had this agent!

The last thread are the Flashbacks in beautiful black & white of Eddie’s pre-Hollywood life in Texas, with Joe Estevez as his strict father and Barbara Patrick (Robert’s wife) as his soon-to-be-ex-wife. Eddie was a successful pizza store owner (take out only) who sells his business to live his dream of being an Elvis impersonator. Father thinks he’s an idiot, wife divorces him and takes the kid... and Eddie and his band go out of the road. Jeff’s cuts from present to past and back are great - match cut stuff with a character from the present drinking a cup of coffee to one in the past drinking a cup of coffee. There is a great flow to the story which makes it seem less episodic. Because the black and white stuff was shot later, Jeff would end a scene with some action that could be duplicated months later when Duane had lost a bunch of weight and looked like a younger version of himself. Eventually the flashbacks get darker and darker (in tone, not lighting) and Eddie flips out in a burger joint and ends up sent to an insane asylum, where the guards include Quentin Tarantino (before he was famous) and Bruce Campbell and director Rusty Cundiff.

The last third of the film at the Back Door Club is filled with some great characters - the late great Roscoe Lee Brown plays the club owner, Tim Thomerson does a great cameo as an angry comedian, stand up comic Puppy Thomas is the world’s worst ventriloquist, and practically stealing the show is Danny Roebuck as Eddie’s warm up act - the world’s most unlucky magician: when he tries to pull the rabbit out of his hat, it bites him and he bleeds all over the place for the rest of his performance... which includes him accidentally catching fire and unable to put himself out. Then Eddie gets up on stage, everything goes wrong, and he has his big break down right in front of us.

Though that ending was the whole reason they made the film, I really like the parts of the film that come before that. You get a real feel for people on the fringes in Hollywood, the hopefuls without hope...

The film is available on DVD at Netflix, I have no idea if it's on their streaming service or not. Made for pocket change, a nice little labor of love. Bill
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