CARGO (2018) & THE RESURRECTION OF RON THOMPSON

Cargo (2018) is an intense horror thriller that helped resurrect the career of veteran stage, film and TV actor Ron Thompson. The premise of the film is unique and underlines what can be done with limited means. Reminds me of what Roger Corman referred to as, “Brilliance on a budget.” From the first few seconds of the film to the very end, Thompson inside a cargo container is all you ever see as he desperately tries to raise the ransom of his kidnappers demand.

Poster art from CARGO in which the entire premise is explained in the tagline.

The other actors noted in the poster are simply well-cast audio voices and never seen. Doesn’t matter. The premise and Thompson’s enacting of it holds the viewer spellbound for an hour and a half. It shows what the medium is capable of when disbelief is suspended and imagination runs amok. Be prepared, however. Despite his sole presence, the film gets kind of gruesome ins some parts.
I mention all this simply because Ron is a friend of mine and I warily watched Cargo at his urging. I say warily because once he told me the premise I knew it would be a tough go as it’s not my preferred genre. I finally relented and I was NOT disappointed. It’s a paranoid-claustrophobic thriller of the first order and Ron is excellent in it!
By the way, you may know Ron best — as I do — from his dual performances in Ralph Bakshi’s underrated classic, American Pop (1981).

Poster art from AMERICAN POP with an inset of Ron Thompson today.

It’s an interesting thing in that he has had one of, if not THE most unorthodox career of any person that I’ve ever heard of. In fact, I had told him that because of his roller coaster career, I’d ask the publisher of Filmfax if they’d be interested in an interview with Ron but sadly, they passed on the idea. Damn shame as it’s a fascinating yarn and he’s a fascinating man.
I met Ron via Facebook, since he proved to be quite a Lee Marvin fan and graciously wrote a review of my book. The social media platform also helped resurrect his career. The contacts he’s made actually lead to his role in Cargo, and several other worthwhile projects. A few kudos then to Mark Zuckerberg, at least for that, and allowing Ron and I to hook up. It was a similar casual hook up with director James Dylan that got Ron the role. Once we kept in contact thru Facebook, Ron surprised me by showing up at my book signing for Lee Marvin Point Blank at Jeff Mantor’s bookstore, Larry Edmunds. I was not only pleasantly surprised to meet Ron in person, Ron was equally surprised to meet up with Mitch Ryan’s accomplice, Claudette Sutherland, whom Ron hadn’t seen since his school days!

(L-R) Yours truly, Ron Thompson, and Ron’s long lost school friend, Claudette Sutherland at Larry Edmunds Bookstore.

All told, such coincidences are pretty impressive some times so never underestimate them. As my father used to say, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Take a shot. Brace yourself and watch Ron in Cargo for FREE at the link he sent me… If you dare!
– Dwayne Epstein.

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LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK: PEOPLE AND PLACES, PART I

Before Lee Marvin Point Blank was even published in 2013, the people and places it showed up with surprised even me. For instance, publisher Tim Schaffner sent an advance review copy to publicist Mike Phillips who chose to waste no time in digging in, even if it meant taking it along to his work out….

Publicist Mike Phillips shares the advance copy with fellow gym members.

Once it did come out, I was quite gratified to see where and with whom it showed up. Of course, how one reads it is entirely up to the reader. take for instance Lee Marvin fan, Bill Consolo, who seems to have found a Hebrew version….

Bill Consolo reads what appears to be a unique copy of Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Of course, even some celebrities have taken to help promote the book. When I did a book-signing at Larry Edmunds Bookshop, I was fortunate to have Mitch Ryan, Lee Marvin’s Monte Walsh costar, agree to appear….

Mitch Ryan, clearly excited to get his copy of Lee Marvin Point Blank.

At the same book signing, and much to my surprise, I finally got to meet up with veteran stage, film and TV actor, Ron Thompson. He had a dual role in one of my favorite films, American Pop, playing both Tony and Tony’s son, Little Pete. Ron and I became friends via Facebook and we had talked about meeting up a few times. His appearances at the book signing and later, his favorable opinion (third from the bottom) of my work was one of the most rewarding personal experiences I’ve had thus far.  While he was there, he received his own surprise as the lady who accompanied Mitch Ryan was an old friend of Ron’s that he had not seen in years! See what can happen when you come to one of my book signings!
-Dwayne Epstein

(L-R) Author Dwayne Epstein, American Pop’s Ron Thompson and his long lost friend, Claudette Sutherland.

 

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MITCHELL RYAN AT THE LARRY EDMUNDS BOOK SIGNING

Mitchell Ryan at Larry Edmunds Bookstore: For those poor unfortunate souls who missed last night’s book signing, here’s a bit of rundown of what transpired…..

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First, I said a few words about why I wrote Lee Marvin Point Blank….

makingapoint

 

Then, owner Jeff Mantor played a DVD that I brought of some Lee Marvin rarities. It included trailers, ‘Making of’ shorts of some of his films, a cigarette commerical he did for M Squad, and even a clip of him backstage after winning the Oscar…..
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Then, we introduced a special guest, Lee’s Monte Walsh co-star and personal friend, acting great Mitch Ryan, who regaled those gathered with some great anecdotes and observations….

mitchsitting Those in attendance made some interesting connections themselves, and I include myself among them. First up, I met up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while, Dyana Levinson…

me&dyana

This is what consider to be the really cool part. Several of those in the audience who joined us posed for a group shot….

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Starting from the left: John Gloske, author of a great bio on the unsung actor Frankie Darro. John was a great help to me putting together my bio on Lee as he was great friends with several of Lee’s costars. Next to him is yours truly followed by actor Ron Thompson. Does he look familiar? Ron was the star of one of my all time favorite films: Ralph Bakshi’s American Pop. He played both Tony & Pete in the cult animation classic. Next to Ron is Claudette Sutherland, veteran actress, personal manager, and friend of Mitch Ryan. Ron and Claudette were both there by chance, had not seen each other in years, and actually were in high school together! How’s that for cool? And of course, on the right, the great Mitch Ryan!

Owner Jeff Mantor, with his back to the camera, made sure there were enough copies of books to go around, be sold, and signed by the author, as well as the extra treat of having it signed by Mr. Ryan….
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Also in attendance were several other notables, such as….

candidgroup2 Film producer, Chris Chesser (Major League, Kansas), pictured in profile on the far right. He told of growing up in Arizona and being amazed at the filming of Monte Walsh.

Also present, good friend and fellow biographer Jim Gladstone, author of a great book on lawyer Greg Bautzer entitled The Man Who Seduced Hollywood. It’s a great read by the way and it is HIGHLY recommended! That’s Jim barely visble on the far right….
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And for me the best part of all? My lovely girlfriend Barbara, who’s birthday is this weekend, got to have dinner with and spend the night with a genuine movie star. Barbara had me take her picture with her childhood crush Mitch Ryan. For those who may not remember, Ryan played Burke Devlin on Dark Shadows. Two seconds after I snapped this pic, Ryan kissed her cheek. Now THAT’s a birthday present!
Barb&Mitch

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