MORE EARLY INFLUENCES IN LEARNING FILM HISTORY

For no other reason than just for fun, the idea of exploring early influences on both my writing, as well as my love of movies that resulted in Lee Marvin Point Blank, is something I decided was worth exploring just a little more.
I have a vid memory of watching Richard Schickel’s PBS series The Men Who Made the Movies back in the 70s when I was VERY young. Up until then, I never even gave much consideration to the importance of the director to a film and the concept changed my thinking, dramatically.

Extremely rare program for the PBS seres, THE MEN WHO MADE THE MOVIES.

In fact, Some of the subjects in Schickel’s series, such as Raoul Walsh and Bill Wellman, proved even more fascinating than the films they made!
An even greater example of early influences is a series books put out by Citadel Press entitled “The Films of…” and the very first one picked up was the beat up hardcover seen below….

THE FILMS OF JAMES CAGNEY, my 1st Citadel Press title which I still own.

The entire series (each title of interest of varying quality) was a revelation to this young star struck movie fan. Imagine for a moment you’re looking for any well illustrated information on the stars, genres, and periods of filmmaking that you love, long before the days of the internet, and you stumble up this rack at the local mall’s book store….

Citadel Press book rack as seen in at the local mall back in the 70s & 80s.

I was so enthralled by these titles, I even sent away for the full catalog so I could discover what all the titles were that existed and find out what they had to offer….

Citadel Press catalog of “Films Of..” books.

I was so bold at such a young age, I even went so far as to write the publisher and ask if I could write  book called The Films of Steve McQueen. I was politely told that one was in the works but thanks for the offer. They were right, of course. One did come out…about ten years later.

Back of the rare record given to me by author Tony Thomas.

The existing titles varied in quality, as I said, but I noticed several of the best were authored by the same very prolific writer. His name was Tony Thomas and for reasons I can no longer recall, I was fortunate to meet up with him in his home in southern California. I was extremely impressed with his kind demeanor, countless soundtracks shelved on the wall (many produced by him!) and his amazing patience with me. In fact, He simply handed me several soundtracks as we spoke and signed them all! As you can see by the scans below, I still have them. What he wrote remains a treasured possession. I wonder if anybody does that kind of thing any more…..

Tony Thomas inscription on the back of his soundtrack album To Robin Hood.

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BIG RED ONE RECONSTRUCTION AT THE DGA

Writer/Director Sam Fuller’s The Big Red One never received the accolades it deserved in his lifetime for a myriad of reasons. I mention this simply because I was going through my research records for Lee Marvin Point Blank and came across some reminders of the film’s reconstruction back in 2004. I was invited to the screening at the Director’s Guild of America (DGA) in Hollywood and wound up mingling with several of the film’s participants.

Program cover for the DGA screening of Sam Fuller’s reconstructed THE BIG RED ONE.

Those in attendance included Sam’s widow Christa Fuller and their daughter Samantha, as well as the film’s costars Robert Carradine, Kelly Ward, Bobby DiCiccio, Perry Lang and a few others. Mark Hamill was scheduled to appear but had to cancel.
Anyway, it was a wonderful experience.

Inside page of BIG RED ONE reconstruction program.

There were also a few unexpected surprises, such as Martha Plimpton and her father, Keith Carradine. I spoke briefly with Carradine in hopes of getting an interview for his work in Emperor of the North but sadly, it was not to be.
On a happier note, I was able to reconnect with Peter Levinson (1934-2008), The Big Red One’s original publicist who had granted me an interview a few months before, regaling me with some wonderful industry anecdotes I might blog about in the near future.
Viewing the film was of course an incredible experience as the lost footage had been rumored and whispered about for decades were finally on display. Historian Richard Schickel did a most commendable job putting the pieces together, as most fans would later discover on DVD.
Okay, I am apparently avoiding the obvious, which is what I REALLY found in my research records. Can you tell? So, without further adieu, here it is. Before the film started, Christa Fuller took a photo of me chatting with her daughter outside the DGA building. It might best be dubbed “Beauty & The Beast.” I give you…..

Samantha Fuller (left) reacts to something I’m telling her while I blather on about something that, for the life of me, I have no memory of whatsoever. Maybe that’s a good thing.

 

 

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