haven't seen APACHE, but I put it on the Netflix list.
I also had down SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, which I've already
seen and want to see again. I agree: Burt Lancaster
was great in every part he played. I saw him portray
Jim Thorpe in that bio-pic of his life (was it JIM THORPE:
ALL AMERICAN, or something like that?), and he is quite
believable when portraying an Indian. He is one of the
few white actors who have pulled this off convincingly
(Jack Palance was great as an Apache in BROKEN ARROW,
especially in that scene where he takes his hat off
and shakes out his long hair; and Paul Newman was very
good in HOMBRE. However, I couldn't get into Dustin
Hoffman's performance in LITTLE BIG MAN). I most recently
saw Burt in AIRPORT, and he was great in that, as well.
Can you think of a less than average Burt Lancaster
performance? I honestly can't; he's one of those actors
that make any film watchable when they're in it.
love "Airport," it's the kind of movie I miss
most, a big, adult, all-star Hollywood spectacle, that's
not stupid. It was made by one of my favorite filmmakers,
George Seaton, who wrote and directed it and he was
already in his 70s. And the film has a great pace. No,
I don't think Burt ever gave a bad performance. I just
bought the DVD of "Marty," which Lancaster
produced, and he stars in the trailer, "Hi, I'm
Burt Lancaster, and I'd like to tell you about a new
picture I just made. It's Called 'Marty,' and I think
it's something special . . ." BTW, Dustin Hoffman
isn't supposed to be a real Indian in "Little Big
Man," he's a white guy living with the Indians.
And as for whites playing Native Americans, I particularly
enjoy Jeff Chandler as Cochise in "Broken Arrow."
Also, Ricardo Montalban made a good Indian in "Cheyenne
Autumn," as did Gilbert Roland and Sal Mineo.
"Devil Dogs" script is excellent. I remember
you saying in your "Blackhawk Down" review
that you CAN keep large numbers of soldiers unique and
with different personalities and still have the audience
know who each and every one of them is. At the time,
I wasn't so sure, but you've definitely accomplished
that with this script. It looks like the kind of film
that'd be high budget...you never know, it could happen.
I always think of it like this: if "Buffy the Vampire
Slayer" is a major TV series, then absolutely ANYTHING
can happen. And, on top of that, if "Devil Dogs"
gets made, you know you can run rampant with the blood
and gore because this event really happened. For whatever
reason, the MPAA seems to be fine as long as its real
people who died.
recent war film that I liked was "Enemy at the
Gates". What did you think of this movie? It's
billed as "The Most Triumphant War Film Since 'Saving
Private Ryan'", but in my opinion it's head and
shoulders over "Saving Private Ryan".
glad to hear about your new film project...I wish you
the best of luck.
pleased you enjoyed "Devil Dogs," which was
by the far the most difficult script I've ever written.
I'd need at least $15-20 million to do it right, I think.
I haven't seen "Enemy at the Gates," but it's
now on my Netflix list.
Campbell in a gay sex scene? Now that one I did NOT
see coming... Speaking of Linklater, I enjoyed SLACKER
(I had a professor in an English class at UCONN who
was so enamored of the film that she bought his written
treatment of it and had us read it as a literary work,
preceding a screening of the film). If TAPE is on NETFLIX,
I'll put it on my list.
Have you seen VALDEZ IS COMING, with Burt Lancaster?
Of all the revenge films, I think this one may be the
most satisfying. It doesn't overdue the "man with
a past" set-up, although Burt switches gears from
unassuming Mexican peon to blood and guts ex-cavalry
scout with an agenda pretty quickly. Just a thought
for the ever exapanding NETFLIX list.
saw "Valdez is Coming" in the theater when
it came out. I've seen it many times since, too. He
can make the switch quickly because he'd already made
once before, when he became a cavalry scout when he
was younger. Switching back is perfectly believable.
It's all there in the shot of opening his trunk. Have
you ever seen "Apache"? I pretty much love
Burt Lancaster in everything.
movie, need "bullet just hit me" effect like
you had in Running Time eg exploding-type bullet wound.
where do i acquire/how do i make? thanks. i dug running
a fan of your namesake, the B-director, Joseph Lewis
("Gun Crazy"). How did we do the bullet hits,
or squibs as they call them? I hired a professional
pyrotechnician, who then purchased actual squibs, and
set up a system whereby the actors had the detonators
on them and set the squibs off themselves with hidden
button in their palms, thus not having to be connected
by wires to car batteries.
was just curious what you have against Dog Day Afternoon,
its not on your favorite films list. Also, that new
horror movie sounds like a great idea, and definitely
one you could sell, but I strongly recommend changing
the name, "Terrified!" sounds like a theme
a working title. Without a title, you haven't got a
project. Meanwhile, "Dog Day Afternoon" is
okay, but I never loved it. It just all feels so stuck
in that bank, and I never bought that Pacino and Cazale
were actually gay. For Pacino movies of that period,
I'll take "Serpico."
what part of the edge are you directing from? What if
a large gale were to occur, couldn't you possibly fall
off? Why must you put yourself in such grave danger?
P.S.- What festivals did you send hammer to this time?
believe I've already toppled off the edge, and now I'm
free-falling. I sent it to: Austin, Ashland, Boston,
and New York. However, my record for getting into festivals
isn't so good.
was your Memorial Day weekend? I watched RUNNING TIME
yesterday and thought that it was excellent. As much
as I liked TSNKE, RUNNING TIME was a far superior film.
The only part that I couldn't watch easily was Bruce
Campbell's sex scene with Anita Barone, which was due
to the fact that I've never seen him do one in any other
film, and wasn't prepared for it (it was kind of like
catching my dad having sex...brrrr!). At any rate, I
enjoyed the film a great deal. That makes 2 out of 4
on the Josh Becker playlist for me. Is LUNATICS: A LOVE
STORY available on DVD?
Congratulations on your new film project! I wish you
luck, and will look forward to seeing it. Do you think
you'll post the script here on the website when it's
I know you're not a terribly big fan of Richard Linklater,
but there is a quote from SLACKER that you would appreciate:
Nil illegitimus carborundum (roughly translated: "Don't
let the bastards grind you down!"). That one has
saved me from punching out the boss at work on a few
guess I am sort of a Linklater fan, since I did watch
"Tape" twice and enjoyed it both times. And
I liked what he was up to in "Slacker." "Waking
Life" doesn't sound like it will be my cup of tea,
but when I get a chance I'll see it. Regarding RT, when
I gave Bruce the script I thought he'd turn it down
due to the sex scene, but he never had a problem with
it. Since then, however, he's done gay sex scenes on
"Beggars & Choosers" on Showtime, so apparently,
he'll do anything. Anyway, I'm glad you liked it. No,
"Lunatics" is not on DVD, and it's rather
difficult to find. And regarding posting the scripts,
my theory was that I wouldn't post the script until
the film was released. Given that theory, I may never
post the "Hammer" script.
was just wondering if you have any songs from your childhood
that always take you back whenever you hear them. Mine
are "Music to watch girls by", "The girl
from Ipenema", "My beautiful balloon",
"You're just too good to be true", just to
name a few. A dumb question, I know.
would probably be more meaningful if every other radio
station wasn't playing classic rock and all those songs
that had meaning to me as a kid. "The Girl From
Ipanema" does put me back to being a little kid,
before the rock & roll age really began. All of
the early Beatles' songs put me back to being a kid,
particularly "All My Lovin'" and "And
I Love Her." Also, having grown up in Detroit,
all of the early Motown, like The Supremes, Marvin Gaye,
Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, The Four Tops, all
put me back to my early youth.
did you think of "Hard Eight"? I think its
pta's best film yet. What do you think?
agree. It's the only one that I thought was any good,
but it sure hasn't stuck in my memory very well.
luck w/ the new project...I still like Polanski a lot
actually, I thought "Ninth Gate" was a black
comedy with more in common with "Chinatown"
than "Rosemary's Baby", and I think most people
went in thinking it was going to be a " Satanic
Thriller" (I think he was mocking the rich thinking
they would have some direct connection to the "devil",
and tossing their money around to do it, which may connect
to the parties he and Tate used to attend in L.A.)..I
also liked "Death and the Maiden" and "Bitter
Moon" especially, although I do think he didn't
do much of interest between "Tenant" and "Bitter
Moon"...but his new film "The Pianist"
is encouraging...he's doing a film based in Poland in
WW2, something he knows very much about, and is a inevitable
film I think he'd been suppressing a long time --so
I at least have to be interested in it...also, glad
you liked "Tape", more or less, I think it's
a title I (among others perhaps) recommended...whew!
Anchor Bay officially give up on "Hammer"?
I realize you (I assume) need to make some money back
on the flick, but is there perhaps another DVD outlet
(Vanguard) or somebody that may not offer any money
whatsoever, but at least get it out there? Or is that
not an appealing prospect? (I just wanna see it, dammit
-- it may be the only DVD I ever buy sight unseen, if
it would just come out!)
of those later Polanski pictures are okay, like "Bitter
Moon," but his films between 1962 and 1976 are
just brilliant, and everything thereafter seems like
rather pale imitations. You're right, though, that he's
always needed to make a WWII film set in Poland. I thought
he should do Jerzy Kozinski's "The Painted Bird,"
as he and Kozinski were friends. I don't know of Vanguard,
have you got any contacts there? I have just sent "Hammer"
out to four festivals.
Gregory B Moss
given an assignment to my sophomores and juniors to
write a movie review on either "The Spanish Prisoner"
or "Memento," both of which I've seen. I am
definitely, definitely going to point them to your web
site for examples of how to write a damn movie review
in the first place! Fuck Roger Ebert! (I don't say that
word in class but that's how I feel). Your movie reviews
are like candles in a pitch-black labyrinth, trying
to light our way out of post-modernism and back home
again. You are the only reviewer I've read who slams
"Saving Private Ryan" for the very reason
I wanted to puke when I saw it. Guys like my Dad, who
fought in the Pacific in WWII, didn't need to create
some kind of shit-brained existential meaning out of
life a la Camus and Sartre to make it through their
days of military service. Who's that dumbfuck character
who says, "Duh, yeah, duh, and maybe if we find
this Private Ryan, duh, it will make some sense out
of this godawful war, duh"? Spielburg can sling
that kind of shit at today's nihilistic college pukes
and they eat it up like hungry hyenas. In fact, it's
a disgrace even to suggest that a guy like my Dad or
any middle-class guy in the 1940's, kicking Nazi ass
in Europe or Jap ass in the Pacific, would ever even
have entertained such a blasphemous thought. The whole
film is built on this premise, and it's like building
a house on quick sand. Besides, it's patently false.
It's bullshit. I could go on about how the viewing public
has changed over the past fifty years, like how men
have become feminized and how political correctness
has suffocated the arts, as well as the brains of people
who go to watch movies these days. That would take too
long. Let me just finish by saying that you've got one
hell of a web site here, and that your movie reviews
are no-nonsense, kick-ass-and-take-names straight shooters.
You also know what a story is. Keep up the good work.
rant, much invective, I like. Stop by anytime. As I
said in my review, "Ryan" is taking Vietnam
attitudes and sticking them on WWII, where they absolutely
don't fit. It's also just a very badly written script.
While I'm ragging on Spielberg, I think "A.I."
is the worst film of his career, and the man has made
a lot of crap -- let us not forget: "1941,"
"Hook," "Always," "Indiana
Jones and the Temple of Doom," and "Jurassic
Park 2." But I think he's worked his way down to
a new low.
I understand congrats are in order on the new horror
film. Is it funded already? From the description of
your financial travails with "Hammer" I feared
you might be out of commission for a while.
Did you know that Scott Spiegel has a cameo in "Spiderman"?
He is credited as "Marine Cop".
My primary reason for writing is to ask a question and
make a comment concerning "Cycles". The question
involves the radium dial painters. It was my understanding
that the public was made aware of the hazards of radium
through the "Radium Girls" lawsuit which ran
from '27-'28. I believe that in '32 federal guidleines
for handling radium were passed. I am waiting on a copy
of Ross Mullner's book on the subject. I think that
'47 would be too late for this particular problem.
The comment concerns Dewey's statement to the rest of
the gang that he would be happy to get to New Mexico
where people would at least be used to Indians. Oklahoma
had a large African-American population dating from
the end of the nineteenth century. An American history
I own says that African-Americans in Oklahoma in 1907
outnumbered Native Americans and first and second generation
European immagrants. As for Native Americans, Oklahoma
still has, I believe, the largest population in the
States. Its nickname is, after, "Native America".
Of course Dewey might not have known this, but I think
Oklahoma was at least associated with Native Americans
if not as much with African-Americans.
Again, I'm glad you've got a writing/directing project
in the works and that I have something to look forward
to. Thanks as always.
everybody got a cameo but me. I don't think Sam respects
me as an actor (I don't blame him, either). Although
he has given me extra parts in several of his films,
he has never given me a line to deliver. He has had
me come in to do general looping (dialog replacement)
on several of his films, too, but generally just for
crowd stuff. He had me doing a specific voice on "Crimewave,"
and he got so disgusted with my performance that he
threw me out of the sound booth and did it himself.
My voice did make it into AOD as one of the skeleton
army. Anyway, you may be right about the radium dial
thing, but I do believe it was still going on until
soon after WWII, when the effects of radiation really
became known. And as far as the character Dewey is concerned,
I don't think he really knows what he's talking about,
geographically and ethnically speaking.
took ur advice and tried to rent Running Time from Thomas
Video (btw, they are in Clawson). First, they couldn't
find it. Boy, is that place in complete chaos. So, I
left them my phone number and I could pick it up later.
Two days later they call to let me know they found it
and it's on DVD. I asked them to order a VHS for me
and I would buy it. They agree and told me they could
get it from Anchor Bay. A month or two goes by and I
still don't have the movie. I called them yesterday.
After keeping me on hold for 12 minutes they inform
me that they can only get it on DVD. I was so upset!
So, I just ordered it myself from Amazon!!! I hope I
get it this time. I've never tried so hard to see a
for all the effort, I hope you think it was worth it
once you've seen the film.
sounds like a great project. But your first horror---I
thought TSNK...E was a horror film too? At least that's
where they keep it at the video store.
you hear that Roman Polanski's cut a deal to come back
to the US? No jail time.
found that most stores seem to keep TSNKE under action/adventure
or with the war films. I think it's based on having
guys in military uniforms on the box. Also, I don't
think it is a horror film; it's an action/adventure/
revenge film. And no, I didn't hear that Polanski had
a cut a deal. For his sake, I hope he has. As a filmmaker,
however, I think he's long past his prime.
sounds great...And I have no clue as to what it's about.
few curious questions. Will you be shooting on 16mm?
Filming in OR? (If so, the woods out there are some
of the creepiest you could film) Are you thinking b&w
like "Repulsion"? And lastly, do you have
some sort of a pre-distribuiton deal since you're doing
a horror film with Bruce in the lead? Hope these questions
aren't too inquisitive.
sincerely wish all the best of luck. I was sort of let
down when I heard "Warpath" fell through,
so this is good news.
a good one.
film is sort of a response to "If I Had a Hammer,"
which seemingly no one wants, if, for no other reasons,
that it has no star and is not in a recognizable genre.
I'm glad I made it, but it's hurt me. So, this one will
have a reconizable star, in a clearly defined genre,
in 35mm, and in color. It will still be exactly the
film I want to make, but I am taking commercial aspects
into consideration this time. And yes, it will be shot
here in Oregon. No, I don't have any deals set up, although
I have been told by a number of distributors over the
years that they would just love to have another horror
film starring Bruce. If I actually get to make this,
it will be my first horror film.
E-mail: already have it:)
time no email...I just read that you have something
"put together" for an indie film "Terrified!"
with Bruce...I am so so happy and all of my fingers
are crossed!:) Have you wrote the story completely yet?
Can you tell us anything else about it? Any other ideas
for casting other than Bruce? And I have a few other
questions (hope you don't mind)...I remember you saying
that you and Scott Spiegel were roomies once and got
into a little tiff and were no longer friends after
that. I was wondering is that still true today? And
odd question (but so curious), I read Bruce's book and
wanted to know if his ex-wife (who was on that soap
with him) was still acting? And last, I wanted to say
(if it means anything) I am no computer geek or internet
junkie, I get on the internet for my email and to keep
up with your web site since I am a fan. And as busy
as I have been these last weeks, I haven't been able
to really read anything until tonight (today was just
awful for me!)...anyway to make this long story not
so long-you truly made my day! I read the last 2 archive
pages of Q&A and laughed insanely! You are absolutely
too funny! Anyway, thanks for making my day because
you really did! Keep up all the great work!
thanks. I do my best here. Now let's see, yes, I've
written the whole story in a lengthy treatment, which
I'm now rewriting. It's sort of Polanski-like/Twilight
Zonish story, along the lines of "Repulsion"
or "The Tenant," mainly with just Bruce. Ted
Raimi will have a supporting role, and will co-produce
with Bruce and I. That's all of the details for the
time being. Let's see if it can actually happen, and
doesn't fall apart before that. These guys could possibly
hate my treatment and that would be the end of it. So,
we'll see. Scott and I haven't spoken in years. He doesn't
hang with any of the old gang anymore, so I never hear
about him. Bruce's first wife, Chris, does not act anymore.
She gave it up early into their marriage, when they
had their first child (who's now in college).
Just a comment about Marines and entrenching tools.
My father was a captain in intelligence in Vietnam from
'67 to '70. At one point he was sent to evaluate a situation
involving the Marines. A batallion had established a
beach head for a landing which was to have followed
immediately. For whatever reason the Army landing was
a month delayed. In the meantime the Marines were taking
casualties all out of proportion to the enemy they faced.
When he got there, my father found the Marines sitting
on the beach in their tents and being picked off by
sniper fire. When he asked the Colonel why they had
not dug in the Colonel replied "We're Marines,
we don't dig in!"
My father was a Captain and not about to tell a Marine
Colonel what to do, but he made his report and within
days the Marines were entrenched and the casualty rate
fell. My father says that this episode convinced him
that the Marines had the best soldiers and the worst
story. In the case of Belleau Wood, the marines did
dig in, but had no shovels to do it with.
have a suggestion. Have you seen Ang Lee's "Ride
with the Devil"? I thought it was great. The most
overlooked picture of 1999. Universal totally screwed
up an opportunity to have a real award winner. They
should have released it later in 2000, instead of craming
it into 5 theaters in late '99. It most certainly would
have been the best picture of '00.
an accurate look at what was going on over the Missouri\Kansas
border durring the late civil war between the loyalists
and jhawkers. I think you said you enjoyed Lee's films
prior to "Crouching Tiger". I was absolutely
surprised when I first saw this. It deserves far more
than the little it's attained. The acting is great all
around, and I remember likeing how nobody was made up
to look like a movie star. Every one's ugly in this
movie (Except Jewell, of course).
Having grown up in NW Missouri, I was interested in
seeing a historically factual film that was actually
shot where the script takes place. It's always irritated
me when films go out of their way to take place in a
specific region and then are promptly shot else where.
At any rate, I think you'd like this film and certainly
recommend it if you haven't seen it. If you have, what
did you think of it? The widescreen photography by Fredrick
(Blue Velvet) Elmes I also remember being extremely
a side note, I too greatly enjoyed "Devil Dogs".
I probably read it a year ago and I still think of it
often. I'd like to see it (or "Buds", which
is hilarious) get made into a film more than any of
a good one.
has been added to my ever-expanding Netflix list. And
yes, I liked all of Ang Lee's film up to "Crouching
Tiger," particularly "Sense and Sensibility"
and "The Ice Storm," but his Chinese films,
Cameron Crowe's "Conversations With Wilder,"
the late great Wilder poses the question "Do you
ever think about quitting," to which Crowe responded
"yes," an answer he felt was wrong.
frequently note your disgust with the current state
of Hollywood and how sometimes you think about just
quitting. My question to you is - could you truly give
up filmmaking? The current state of cinema aside, as
a story-teller do you think you could really just walk
away from it all?
not Dennis Rodman, are you? Anyway, no I don't think
I ever could quit filmmaking. Stories, filmmaking, and
movies are what I primarily think about. I just couldn't
do the stupid Hollywood thing anymore. And I think I
may have my next independent feature put together. It's
a horror film called "Terrified!" and starring
Bruce Campbell. Everybody cross your fingers.
for responding! I'm the former Beacon employee that
worked on "Cycles". I was the assistant to
the development department at Beacon for the past 2
and a half years. Now I'm an unemployed assistant to
the development department. But if I become a producer
I will let you know! I have several copies of the various
drafts of "Cycles" laying around here somewhere.
If you are interested in taking a look at any of them
I would be more then happy to send them to you. Note
that my email address has changed since the last time
I contacted you.
for the offer, but I have intentionally not read any
of the rewrites, which would just piss me off. I'm quite
proud of my version, the first and original version,
and can only believe that anyone else's contribution
is a detriment. Beacon has had that script since 1994.
second post today, but I wanted to write in before the
weekend (I use the computer at work). I just read THE
WINDS OF FATE and enjoyed it a great deal. These scripts
of yours are very good, and deserve to be made into
films. There must be some way to get financing...what
about Sam Raimi? He must be sitting on a pile of cash
by now. Surely you know something embarrassing about
him that he'd pay to keep under wraps. Use it! Sorry
about that, just a little frustrated. Have a good Memorial
I like that script, too. Sam and his partner Rob have
their own agendas, and I leave them to it. They do have
a treatment of mine they're considering making, but
if so, they wouldn't get me to write the script or direct,
so it interests me very little.
Dear Lord & Savior Becker,
I read all of your Articles & Essays and Reviews
+ Words including other stuff then I felt like we connected
on a supernatural level where the winds of intellects
blow like sweet rain drops across the milky blue earthen
vesseled sky pillows. Your thoughts bang down the duties
and proclamations that us persons as creatives must
adhere to and focus upon with much earnest. I type this
question &/or comments to just let you know that
I found this website to be very beneficial to my education
in becoming a movie type one day and that I am studying
your every letter on the site to help further my furthest
hopes of getting further than my farthest aspirations
of achieving that far off area of further ness. In closing
I type to you on a shop talk level & I found your
scripts very insightful in helping me structure my own
dumb works and I thank you. In conclusion I type thank
you and I want to give you my appreciation and gratitude
for pouring out your anger, so thanks.
was wondering if you maybe had some script work for
me because I have this script I'll send to you its a
Love story between Xena & Hercules but i'll only
send it if you can tell me which episode Xena's boob
must be too early in the morning, but I can't tell if
you're being sincere or snotty. Either way, good luck
with your writing. Lucy's breast popped out at a hockey
you again for writing that script. I really enjoyed
it. Interesting NOTE: the mess kits that the Marines
used to dig in (I think Kit, mess, individual, M1910
is the official designation, but I can't be sure)is
still in service to this day: indeed, I was issued one
when I joined the National Guard in 1995 (I've never
used it, but I have it).
I saw a film the other day that I enjoyed, called JUST
VISITING. It starred Jean Reno (that French guy with
the goatee from RONIN and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE) at the
Duke of Malvet, a medieval French nobleman who goes
to England to marry a princess. Unintentionally, he
drinks a hallucinogenic poison that an enemy poured
into his wine, and in a panic, he kills his intended
bride. Awaiting a death sentence, he summons a wizard
(Malcolm McDowell) to send him into the past and right
his wrong. Unfortunately, the potion that the magician
mixes up is missing a key ingredient, and thus sends
the noble and his lackey squire into the FUTURE, to
the present day. It sounds like the usual "fish
out of water" element exploited by every movie
or TV show from "The Beverly Hillbillies"
to "Encino Man", but it is unusually well
done. Jean Reno gives an excellent performance; he is
wholly creditable as a medieval knight. Christina Applegate
plays a dual role as both the slain princess and a descendant
of the Duke, whom he bumps into in the present day.
It was an enjoyable comedy, not overdone in any particular
aspect. I get up at 5 am to go to work and I stayed
up to watch this, even though it started at midnight.
I even see a surprising adherence to the three-act structure
in it (i.e. Act I: characters and problem are presented,
Act II, problem is struggled with, with a point of no
return, and Act III, problem is resolved). It's definitely
another movie to watch if you've just had a bad day.
haven't seen "Just Visiting," but it's a remake
of a French film called "Les Visiteurs" with
the same cast, and apparently better. There are two
sequels, as well. Meanwhile, I saw a pretty good film
last night, "Tape." It actually has a well-written
script with an interesting premise, real characters,
and actual drama. It's based on a play (by Stephen Belber),
and it seems like a play since it all takes place in
one hotel room, but it's far better than all the rest
of this crap I've watched lately. I don't think Richard
Linklater is all that great of a director, and certainly
has no knack or finesse with a camera, but he understood
the material, and cast good actors who carry it along.
Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke are both very good. And
it has some ideas to think about, too. If someone like
Mike Nichols had directed it, it might have been a great
film. As it is, though, it's pretty good.
your advice, I just read the script for DEVIL DOGS,
and was thoroughly impressed. It is an excellent script
from every angle; I can find no fault with it. Excellent
work! My hat is off to you.
Did the marines really have no shovels? If they were
carrying full packs and rolls, they would've had their
entrenching tools with them (at least in a perfect world;
it wouldn't be the first time that such a mistake had
been made. For example, when Task Force Smith deployed
from Japan to Korea in 1950, one entire heavy weapons
company was shipped overseas without bolts for their
to God, they had no entrenching tools or shovels of
any kind. They used the mess-kit lids. And arriving
at Chateau-Thierry and finding only African soldiers,
and Vietnamese drivers of the trucks, it's all true.
I'm pleased you liked it.
read "Winds of Fate" and enjoyed it very much.
I've traveled all around Africa and felt you captured
a little of the "feel of the place". Screen
plays are so compact, it is difficult to do justice
to the surroundings of a place (which is of course the
job of the camera), but you've done an admirable job.
Thank you for putting your writtings on the web.
for reading it. I actually have been to Africa, but
to Morocco, not to Togo or Ghana. I did do research,
and I met a guy from Togo with whom I discussed the
whole story. If I were 14 years old I'd rather see "The
Winds of Fate" than "Star Wars," but
that's just me.
hope you understood my previous e-mail. Quickly:
essential "plot" of the story just stops --
there's essentially no ending to my little short flick
(Cat in a Beach Chair). I was thus, making fun of crappy
movies that are crap nowadays, by making a flick that
had no STRUCTURE (and thus no ending). My own little
crappy contribution to a crappy industry, until I can
make a good contribution. Still working on that.
Hi. I'm back (again).
shot a short in my backyard too! The "story"
of the film was actually nothing. I sent a copy of the
8-minute film to my Hollywood screenwriter friend making
in the six figures for each script he writes, and he
watched it and asked me what was the point of the story.
I simply told him there WAS NO POINT IN THE STORY --
EXACTLY MY POINT. I was essentially making fun of films
nowadays in general by doing my own little film without
a point! Hilarious! God I'm so unique! It's called "Cat
In A Beach Chair" and after screening it at a couple
of independent festivals in the Texas area, the same
question was asked of me -- is there some "significance"
to the last scene (a scene where I just shoot a carved
wooden cat sitting in a carved wooden beach chair for
the last two minutes of the 8 minute flick)? And I said,
don't know why you're so proud of yourself. Making a
movie with no point is so easy toddlers can do it. It's
like my late friend Rick, who hated horror movies, but
wrote one because he thought he could sell it. I read
it and said, "It has no point," and he responded,
"That's the point! It has no point." Well,
as I said to him, whether you've arrived at no point
intellectually, or you got there because you're an idiot,
you're still in the same place.
you ever seen these two films, "A Better Place"
and "Bully"? If not, you HAVE to see them.
Recently, I saw them and was blown away by them. Both
of them shocked the hell out of me. They are still with
me. They are two of the most POWERFUL films I've ever
seen in my entire life. Both of them are very well-done,
too, in their own way. See them and they will surprise
you, I guarentee. If not, it would be interesting to
hear what you have to say about them.
Better Place" wasn't available, but I put "Bully"
on the list.
used to agree with you comment about "the Coen's
contention that folks in rural areas are dumb"
until I watched O Brother Where Art Thou. Isn't it in
a way their intention to poke humor at the stereotypes?
I recently watched two Linklater movies, Waking Life
and Tape. I loved the way he filmed the character interaction
throughout both films. I think you can be a blind person
and enjoy these two films. I just really want to hear
your opinion on the matter if you watched them yet.
all the Coens have ever done is make fun of stereotypes,
and sling cliches around, as thou that was actually
humor. But worst of all, their stereotypical characters
are always one-dimensional and dull, and generally not
terribly believable. It all rings incredibly hollow
to me. And I haven't seen either of those Linklater
films, but they're on my Netflix list. I liked "Slacker"
and hated "Dazed and Confused," so he's batting
50-50 with me.
showed "Running Time" to some friends last
night on a double bill with Edger Ulmer's "Strange
Illusion" last night -- of seven people, 5 actively
liked it, two didn't (such is life), but the 5 were
then asking me questions about "who made that?
What's the story behind that?" And are now interested
in checking out "TSNK"-- so I'm doing my bit!
Figure I'll show "TSNK" on a double with "Get
Carter" (the original) -- 2 films that are different
but build to pretty impressive walls-of-violence toward
the end, which is much more effective than slaughter
every 8 minutes, which apparently is the current Hollywood
you ever see any of Ulmer's work? Since you read "Who
the Devil..." I figure you're aware of him, but
I don't know a lot of people who've seen his stuff.
Just another guy who could make superior films on ridiculous
budgets...Also, how bout Hodges' "Croupier"?
I thought that was an intelligent, under 2-hour flick
that didn't insult the audience's intelligence...
up the good work. Indoctrinate your friends. For some
reason I couldn't get into "Croupier," although
I didn't give it much of a chance. I'll try again. I've
seen quite a few of Ulmer's films and I respect him
greatly. I really like "Detour," which is
a terrifically creepy little movie. Have you seen any
of Joseph Lewis's films, like "Gun Crazy"?
agree with your take on Robert DeNiro. He is very focused
on his work, and doesn't like to talk to others. Howard
Stern once mentioned that he couldn't have Robert DeNiro
on his show, as DeNiro was too serious, didn't say much,
and only wanted to speak about acting when he did say
something. But then again, you're right. He doesn't
have to be able to recite a dissertation on acting in
the modern cinema; all he has to do is act. I still
enjoy his films.
If you suddenly got the financial green light for another
film, which script do you think you would pick to film?
question, "Devil Dogs: The Battle of Belleau Wood,"
a script which you might very well enjoy. I think it's
a story that needs telling.
saw part of JACKNIFE awhile ago (I'm putting it on my
NETFLIX list to see again), and the performances were
good. I found the flashbacks were well edited into the
narrative of the contemporary story.
I've talked to a few of the older and retired guys from
my unit who were around when they shot the film (they
shot it at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, while my unit was
there doing it's two-week annual training period, which
is how they were asked to be in it). They all thought
very well of Ed Harris, who was a real gentleman and
not above speaking with the crew and extras. Their opinion
of Robert DeNiro was a little different, though; he
was wrapped up in his method acting, and would hustle
back to his trailer after every shoot, not speaking
to anyone. A few of the guys thought he was an asshole,
especially when they had to get a van to drive him from
his trailer to a foxhole set up nearby when it rained
during shooting. Then again, there's no rule that an
actor has to be a nice guy, so long as the end product
justifies his attitude.
Which leads me to a question (I knew there was one in
there somewhere): have you ever had to deal with difficult
actors on any of your films? If so, how? I was interested
in Bruce Campbell's account of how Sam Raimi dealt with
actors, particularly Gene Hackman. Have you ever been
faced with a similar situation in your work?
Did you see SUICIDE KINGS yet? I enjoyed it and recommended
it awhile back, and was wondering what you thought of
not yet. It's on the list. I don't get a feeling that
DeNiro is an asshole, I just think he's very internal
and doesn't really want to talk to anybody. I recently
saw him on "Inside the Actor's Studio" and
he's incredibly inarticulate. I saw him speak quite
a few years ago, right after "Taxi Driver"
came out, and he was inarticulate then, too. You know,
all artists don't have to be able to explain what they
do, or how they do it. Anyway, the most difficult actor
I've ever dealt with by far was Anthony Quinn, and all
of those experiences are written down in my "Directing
Anthony Quinn" essay. He did seem to take a real
joy in busting a director's balls. I don't think it
was exactly the same thing with Hackman and Sam. I think
Hackman wasn't into being in Sam's complicated shots.
After Sam explained to Hackman a particularly difficult
camera move he was about to do, Hackman said, "No,
that's not what we're doing at all. What we're doing
is getting a medium close-up of me saying my lines."
And Sam said, "Right. Let's set up for a medium
close-up of Mr. Hackman."
Greetings from a former Beacon employee!
used to work in the development department at Beacon
pictures. I worked on your script "Cycles"
for about 6 months until it got shelved again. I actually
asked to be put on the project because I liked the script
and the story so much. I thought it was a great idea
for a movie. We went through a few diffrent writers
including the Fishman brothers until the president of
the company lost interest in the project.
I just wanted to let you know that I thought it was
a really cool script and it was one of the few scripts
that I took with me when I left the company.
good to finally hear something. And I'm glad somebody
actually enjoyed the script. I heard that Phil Kaufman
was on it for a while and the title was "Griffen."
Hey! Why don't you become a producer and get the film
made. Just a thought. Good to hear from you.
for reference, the Australian Brian May is NOT the guy
good to know, I was never sure. Thanks.
OK. I'd say that you got the military aspects of TSNKE
down pretty well for someone who was working without
a technical advisor. Too bad you couldn't use a little
CGI on the film. If you took the magazine and bayonet
off of the shotgun, it would be realistic enough; Marine
infantry platoons have each squad leader armed with
a pump shotgun. They've been doing that since WWI, when
they found out how effective it is as a close range
weapon. Indeed, military pump shotguns are nicknamed
"trench brooms" because of this. Oh well,
bun done can't be undone.
My question is this: in the audio commentary track on
the film, it sounds like you and Bruce are simply reminiscing,
yet periodically, either yourself or Bruce will be specific
about something (for instance, when Bruce brings up
the Super-8 prototype to the film). When they do commentary
tracks, do they have formal scripts, per se, or do you
have notes to go off of with things that you want to
mention (i.e., a note saying "mention where the
Viet Nam stock footage came from", etc.)? Just
In regard to military films, alot of filmaker's overcome
the difficulty of getting soldiers, equipment, etc.,
by contacting the National Guard of the state that they're
shooting in. If they agree to let you use their assets
in a film, this gives you access to equipment, training
sites (usually built on the cheapest, most worthless
land that the government could find, most military reservations
work fine for simulating any "field" environment.
John Wayne, for instance, filmed THE GREEN BERETS at
Fort Benning, GA), and a pool of potential extras, who
are more disciplined than the average extras, and know
how to work the equipment (technical advisors). They're
usually a little easier to deal with than the Regular
Army, too. In JACKNIFE, with Robert DeNiro and Ed Harris,
the soldiers in the Viet Nam sequences were National
Guardsmen from Connecticut. In the end credits, there
is even a special thanks to "Company A, 1-102ND
Infantry, Connecticut Army National Guard". In
most cases, you call the Public Affairs Officer of the
state and say that you're making a film, and would like
the assistance of the National Guard. He then helps
work out the deal in terms of rental fees, permission
to use state property, etc. I don't know if you have
any war films planned in the future, but I thought I'd
Sorry for yet another long letter,
but they also want to read the script, and you've got
to have insurance. None of that would have worked out
on TSNKE, which was made very quickly and cheaply 18
years ago. BTW, I really liked "Jacknife."
I think DeNiro, Harris and Baker are all great, and
I was basically enchanted. I've seen it several times.
What did you (or anyone else) think?
had a chance to catch Black Narcissus on DVD. It has
to be one of the most beautiful films I've ever viewed.
I flipped on the commentary track and was literally
shocked to learn it was entirely filmed in a studio.
The paintings used for the mountain location completely
fooled me. And not to devalue the acting and writing
either, which were all great- but you already know all
this. Thanks for the recommendation, it's a keeper.
couple other things- I'll try not to get too long.
watched Once Upon a Time in America. As soon as it finished,
I had to agree with your statement about old filmmakers
losing their sense of pace. Sooooooo sloooooow.......
was happy to see the Road Warrior pop in discussion
here a while back. I was surprised to read that you
thought the score was a weak point. I honestly consider
it my favorite film score- I really couldn't imagine
the film without it (although you're definitely right
on about the influence of The Planets).
final question: Where did you see The Believer? I had
no idea it had been released anywhere.
been on Showtime. It's one of the very few films of
recent vintage that I liked. It's got some really weird,
conflicting motivations, and I believed the kid. Ryan
Gosling was very good. As for "The Road Warrior's"
score, by Brian May, who I believe was lead guitarist
for Queen (if I'm wrong about this, someone please tell
me), not only is it Holst's "The Planets"
(specifically Mars, the Bringer of War), but that's
by way of John Williams have completely ripped it off
a few years earlier for "Star Wars." And,
as good as "Black Narcissus" looks on DVD,
it looked 90% better in the theater with a nitrate print.
There's a luminescence to the colors in a nitrate print
that DVD can't even come close to. And it was all shot
in a studio in London. Amazing. I love that film.
you please tell me what THE WINDS OF FATE and BUDS are
about before I read them?
Winds of Fate" is about a kid who works in camera
store in Michigan, who, through the winds of fate, ends
up in a mercenary army fighting in a small country in
Africa. "Buds" is about two lifelong pot-head
buddies who, due to the intervention of a woman, get
into a fist fight and stop being friends, but ultimately
work it out.
know that you could give a rat's ass about the new "Star
Wars" film, but I think this review of it makes
some good points about not just the problem with these
movies, but movies in general, these days. Especially
important (I think) is "the difference between
plot and story", and general methods of developing
characters (and developing interest in characters).
If anyone's interested:
reviewer never does make clear what he feels is the
difference between a story and a plot, and quite frankly,
I don't think there is one. They're both "Something
causes something else, which frequently causes yet something
else." That's both a plot and a story.
can you tell about James Whitmore? Is there anything
he's done that particularly appeals to you?
am attending a convention this coming weekend with t.v.
actors who have raved about being directed by his son,
James Whitmore, Jr. (who I understand directed a Hercules
I plan to ask them why they're so jazzed about his technique.
But it occured to me I know next to nothing about his
father. For some reason I thought his father was a cinematographer,
but he's actually an actor who's been working since
the '50's, correct?
I wanted to ask them, *especially* since they've only
completed one season,
if it is an added hurdle to have so many different directors
coming in every week to "develop" how they
play their characters.
I wanted to ask you too about the following, and compare
always envision directors of feature films going over
what goes into the establishing: "motivation"
and subtext with the actors,
but for televison (a series) in terms of growing the
character through-out the story, isn't that more an
ongoing conversation that the producer would have with
the actors? Since typically a hodgepodge of ideas would
have the potential for the t.v. characters to end up
If every new director came in and said, "Character
X would look bored here, Character Y and Z would deliver
their lines tensely to each other because of sexual
tension" and some other director had different
ideas, it'd be maddening for the actors, no?
Or are there no hard and fast rules, and every set finds
their own way of working together?
sat through all the read-thrus on Xena if I remember
correctly, but not all t.v. directors do that, right?
(I realise there is more to directing than guiding the
Sorry for the broad questions, I just want to come up
with intelligent, appreciated questions for the guest
star panel, and not just ask "Is it cool to be
on t.v.? What's your favorite color?"
I'd love any suggestions for what ever else I could
lots of questions. First, If I'm not mistaken, Bruce
Campbell was in one of Mr. Whitmore, jr.'s Hercules
episodes. James Whitmore, the elder, is a wonderful
actor with a gruff voice, thick eyebrows, kind of stocky,
and made a good army sergeant. I particularly liked
him in "Them!" (the giant ant movie), "The
Next Voice You Hear" (about God coming over the
radio, his wife is played by Nancy Davis, soon to be
Nancy Reagan), he's one of the head apes in the original
"Planet of the Apes," he did the voice over
narration for John Huston's great "The Red Badge
of Courage," and was nominated for an Oscar for
his one-man show, then made into a film, "Give
'em Hell, Harry," as Harry Truman. As far as the
character's growth in a TV series, I'd say there's generally
no discussion with actors or directors, it's between
the producers and the writers. For the most part, actors
speak the lines they're given, and directors direct
the script their given. I don't know about other TV
shows, but on Herc and Xena and Jack of All Trades,
every director sat through the read-throughs, it was
mandatory. Have fun at the convention.