Made Man: Martin Scorsese’s MEAN STREETS (Warner Brothers 1973)


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Let’s talk about Martin Scorsese a bit, shall we? The much-lauded, Oscar-winning director/producer/film historian has rightly been recognized as one of out greatest living filmmakers, with classics like TAXI DRIVER, RAGING BULL, GOODFELLAS, GANGS OF NEW YORK, and THE DEPARTED on his resume. Yet Scorsese started small, directing shorts and the low-budget WHO’S THAT KNOCKING AT MY DOOR? as a film student. He got work as an editor (UNHOLY ROLLERS) and assistant director (WOODSTOCK) before directing a feature for Roger Corman called BOXCAR BERTHA, starring Barbara Hershey and David Carradine. When Scorsese and Mardik Martin cowrote a screenplay based on Martin’s experiences growing up in New York’s Little Italy, Corman wanted to produce, but only if the film could be turned into a Blaxploitation movie! Fortunately, Warner Brothers picked it up, and the result was MEAN STREETS, which put Scorsese on the map as a filmmaker to be reckoned with.

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RIP Jan-Michael Vincent: A Pictorial Tribute


Because ‘4 Shots’ just weren’t enough…

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Jan-Michael Vincent has passed away at age 74. Though the actor suffered many trials and tribulations in his personal life, there’s no doubt his onscreen presence connected with audiences of the 70’s and 80’s. In his honor, we present ten shots from the film and TV career of Jan-Michael Vincent:

Tribes (TV-Movie 1970; D: Joseph Sargent)

Going Home (1971; D: Herbert B. Leonard)

The Mechanic (1972; D: Michael Winner)

The World’s Greatest Athlete (1973; D: Robert Scheerer)

White Line Fever (1975; D: Jonathan Kaplan)

Damnation Alley (1977; D: Jack Smight)

Big Wednesday (1978; D: John Milius)

Defiance (1980; D: John Flynn)

The Winds of War (TV-Miniseries 1983; D: Dan Curtis)

Airwolf (TV Series, 1984-87)

Rest in peace, Jan-Michael Vincent (1944-2019)

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Rockin’ in the Film World #19: Bob Dylan in DON’T LOOK BACK (Leacock Pennebaker Films 1967)


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“…some people say that I am a poet… ” 

– Bob Dylan, in the liner notes from the 1965 LP “Bringing It All Back Home”

Bob Dylan has been put under the media microscope, bisected, dissected, and trisected for the past six decades, with everyone and their mother trying to interpret the essence behind the enigma. Documentarian D.A. Pennebaker doesn’t go that route in DON”T LOOK BACK; instead, his cinema verite, free form style adheres to the old adage “show, don’t tell”, as he and his camera crew follow the troubadour on his 1965 tour of Great Britain, culminating in his historic set at the Royal Albert Hall. This would be Dylan’s final tour as a solo performer with guitar and harmonica – the album “Bringing It All Back Home” would soon be released, featuring electric and acoustic sides, and later that year he’d plug in with his band…

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Spring Fever: Joe E. Brown in ELMER THE GREAT (Warner Brothers 1933)


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It may be cold and snowy here in New England, but down in sunny Florida, Spring Training has already begun – which means baseball season is on it’s way! The Red Sox are looking good, although they got pounded by the Orioles in the game I watched this afternoon (I’m writing this on a Saturday), but just hearing the crack of the bats has whetted my appetite for the return of America’s National Pastime. So while we wait for Opening Day to arrive, let’s take a look at the 1933 baseball comedy ELMER THE GREAT.

Comedian Joe E. Brown plays yet another amiable country bumpkin, this time Elmer Kane of small town Gentryville, Indiana. Elmer’s  laid back to the point of inertia, except when he’s eating… or on a baseball field! He’s better than Babe Ruth and he knows it, and so do the Chicago Cubs, who’ve bought his contract…

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Celebrate Mardi Gras with Louis Armstrong!


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Happy Mardi Gras Day! If you can’t get down to Bourbon Street today, here’s the next best thing – jazz great Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong and his band  performing the classic “When The Saints Go Marching In”:

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler, Mes Amies! 

 

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That’s Blaxploitation! 15: BLACK SHAMPOO (Dimension Pictures 1976)


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Remember the Warren Beatty film SHAMPOO, about sexual and political attitudes in the Swingin’ 70’s? Well, BLACK SHAMPOO starts off as the Blaxploitation version, as super-stud Mr. Jonathan takes good care of all the follicle and sexual needs of the Horny Housewives of Beverly Hills – then veers sharply down Sleazy Street with lots of smutty scenes of simulated sex, flamingly gay stereotypes, and a violently gory finale! Yep, they truly don’t make ’em like this anymore; the “woke” crowd would never let ’em get away with it (except of course for the rich white bad guy!).

While Jonathan is out satisfying his amorous customers, his receptionist Brenda gets a visit from a trio of thugs representing Mr. Wilson, a greasy drug dealing crook who wants her back in his arms – and bed. The hoods trash Jonathan’s salon and rough up squeaky-voiced gay hairdresser Artie. Brenda goes back to…

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Cleaning Out the DVR Pt. 22: Winter Under the Stars


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I haven’t done one of these posts in a while, and since my DVR is heading towards max capacity, I’m way overdue! Everyone out there in classic film fan land knows about TCM’s annual “Summer Under the Stars”, right? Well, consider this my Winter version, containing a half-dozen capsule reviews of some Hollywood star-filled films of the past!

PLAYMATES (RKO 1941; D: David Butler ) – That great thespian John Barrymore’s press agent (Patsy Kelly) schemes with swing band leader Kay Kyser’s press agent (Peter Lind Hayes) to team the two in a Shakespearean  festival! Most critics bemoan the fact that this was Barrymore’s final film, satirizing himself and hamming it up mercilessly, but The Great Profile, though bloated from years of alcohol abuse and hard living, seems to be enjoying himself in this fairly funny but minor screwball comedy with music. Lupe Velez livens things up as Barrymore’s spitfire…

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