MEAN STREETS….TO THE RESCUE

Mean Streets to the rescue? Yes, believe it or not.

The poster for an upcoming film on the right as shown in Scorsese’s MEAN STREETS.


Once upon a time, in a strange time and place known as 1980s New Jersey, I was attending a film history/appreciation class at Mercer County Community College while working as a waiter near Princeton. The class textbook was “An Introduction to American Movies” by Steven C. Early and the instructor’s name escapes me. Good thing, too, because if he’s still alive and has access to the internet,he certainly WON’T like this blog entry. 
  What made me think of this particular incident was a result of some online research I’ve been doing for Killin’ Generals. It’ll make sense in a minute. I actually liked the class, being able to watch some classic cinema and write essays about it was my idea of fun. The teacher? Not so much. He was a stodgy stick-in-the-mind so set in his ways about cinema that if you moved his chair two inches in any direction, he’d fall on his ass. Example: The class final consisted of writing an essay on a given genre, choose a film to write about that proves its importance to the genre, as described in class. Well, I chose Film Noir as a genre and Scorsese’s Mean Streets as the film, with lots of info to back it up. I got an ‘F’ because the teacher said color films outside of the time period of 1941-1958 was NOT genre. I fumed, argued but ultimately got a ‘C’ in the class. Yours truly was not pleased. 
   Okay, flash forward a few years later to the mid-90s. PBS was showing a 6-part documentary series on American Cinema with one segment entitled….

Screen grab of PBS series devoted to American Cinema.




I enjoyed the show when it aired but more than anything else, the last 15 minutes of the show was pure redemption. The show, narrated by the great Richard Widmark, came to a point in which film ‘scholars’ decided when and why noir ended. However — and this is an important however — Widmark then intoned the following statement: “Some say that was the end of Film Noir. But I don’t see it that way. Film Noir was a look, a tone, a feel. The shadows are still deadly. Murder still stalks the streets. Love and violence still share the same bed. Fate could still put the finger on you for no good reason at all. Life doesn’t change… because people don’t change.”
 And then, the downbeat to the Ronettes ‘Be My Baby’ and the opening of…Mean Streets
 That’s what I call redemption! Or, as Scorsese himself says later in the program: “Mean Streets became a very clear attempt to do a Film Noir in color. What I was trying to do was blend what I knew as a reality, with that style….I think of it as Noir because I love Noir films. As much as possible, it’s my version of a Noir. But in reality, I was trying to get as much as possible, to my experience…My intention was, why not really show it?” 

 So there you have it.Thank you, Mr. Scorsese. I sometimes wonder if that instructor ever saw that episode. He probably retired with tenure and didn’t care any more. As for the ‘C’ average student? Well, he went on to write the NY Times Bestseller Lee Marvin Point Blank which has a more than few things to say about modern Film Noir. 
– Dwayne Epstein

P.S. If interested, the PBS show runs about an hour (with a terrific a opening montage) and can be seen on YouTube by clicking below.  Enjoy!

 

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THE IMDb & ME

The IMDb, short for the Internet Movie Database has recently gotten around to listing some of my credits, finally. I say finally since I’ve been able to get my face in the media for several years but only recently has the IMDb decided to give me an actually listing for some of my appearances promoting Lee Marvin Point Blank, among other appearances. Oh, and speaking of Lee Marvin Point Blank, the mystery of the disappearing Kindle has been solved via its own page on Amazon….

Cover image of the Kindle of Lee Marvin Point Blank now available again on Amazon.

But back to the IMDb. I’m glad they did finally get around to mentioning some of the things I’ve done in an efforts to promote Lee Marvin, but in fairness, they still have not listed some of the things I’ve appeared in along the same lines. When I wrote my Young Adult bio for Lucent Press’s People in The News series on Hilary Swank I was featured on the E! channel’s documentary about her. I also was interviewed on the local PBS station by Maria Hall Brown here in L.A. not long after the book came out.

Better still, anybody remember the old A&E Biography series? Well, word got out that I was working on a Lee Marvin bio and the producers of the show contacted me for some possible graphics and research material. After speaking with them they decided to include me for an on air interview, which, by the way, is how I met Angie Dickinson. Bottom line, the year that episode aired, they show won the Emmy for best Documentary Series. I kid thee not. Would be nice if the good folks at the IMDb picked up on that!
– Dwayne Epstein

Screen grab of my IMDb listing that still falls short of some of the appearances I’ve made on behalf of LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK.

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