Friday, August 31, 2007

Jerry Lewis Live in Brooklyn, getting PISSED OFF at some ballsy kid

I must thank Funhouse viewer and major Jerry fan (no matter what he says) Stephen Kroninger for this lovely clip of Jerry just WHIPPING the mic out of this kid's hand and delivering a phrase that has stuck with me for years. The kid crossed the line and Jer was ready for him....

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Nothing can possibly folllow that, but here are three jokes from his act. I think they speak for themselves. The handicam is shaky, but does it matter?

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Jerry at full throttle

A clip from this week's show, seen at greater length: the Jer goin' nuts with singer Helen Traubel, from his ill-fated (and stunningly egomaniacal) 1963 Saturday night live variety show.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

"Panic in Needle Park" behind the scenes -- the Funhouse interview with Jerry Schatzberg

Had a great time talking with filmmaker/photographer Jerry Schatzberg about his fascinating career. Here we speak about probably his best known film (besides Scarecrow), The Panic in Needle Park, the film that launched the movie career of Al Pacino.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

A "lost" Sixties gem: "Puzzle of a Downfall Child"

As a supplement to this week's on-air Funhouse episode, in which I present the first part of my interview with filmmaker Jerry Schatzberg, I offer three clips from his first film, which has yet to see a release on either VHS or DVD (c'mon Universal, let it outta the vault!). The film stars Faye Dunaway as a "past her prime" model who's had a nervous breakdown. It is a brilliantly subtle and underplayed character study, drawing on Mr. Schatzberg's own background as a fashion photographer, that features several visually dazzling moments, three of which are below.

In which a classic photographer-shoots-model-in-NYC-setting montage is interwoven with narrative info:

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In which our heroine talks about an early affair (and appears very cute in a Catholic schoolgirl outfit):

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and a wonderfully edited "roleplay" scene in which Dunaway's character leads her photographer friend into a motel tryst:

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For the full picture of Mr. Schatzberg's accomplishments, I highly (highly!) recommend you check out The Panic in Needle Park and Scarecrow on DVD (plus his later titles, available on both DVD and some old VHS releases). Also, visit his website, and check out his work as a photographer, which includes several iconic portraits he took during the Sixties, including the cover of Blonde on Blonde. The "personalities" portion of his site reads like a "Who's Who" cross-section of Sixties celebs from Nico, Andy, and Edie, to Catherine Deneuve, Polanski, and Claudia Cardinale, to Hendrix, the Stones, and Zappa (he also did the cover of We're Only In It for the Money), to Fidel Castro, the Duke of Windsor, and Funhouse all-time fave Terry Southern.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Brion James, character actor extraordinaire

I posted two clips on YouTube (yes, it's posting a whole lotta this stuff I'm putting on this blog, folks) from my interview with the late Brion James, one of the most colorful gents I've ever had the occasion to interview. First, him speaking about his memorable part as "Leon" in Blade Runner:

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and about his being typecast as a "barnyard heavy":

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Merv makes a racist remark (in jest! he's kidding! really!)

How could I have forgotten that I plopped this gem on YouTube when Kurt Vonnegut died. It's quite something, and gives an indication of how really bad the film Slapstick of Another Kind really is.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Merv interviews Orson, parts two and three

Actually, these are parts three and four to the interview with the great god Welles, as the second part is on the DVD box set of Merv's Greatest Guests, or whatever it's called. This chat with Orson was conducted literally the eve of his death — he returned home from the Griffin show and never woke up the next morning.

Part two has him talking with Merv about his recently passed 70th birthday, old age (he quotes DeGaulle, "old age is a shipwreck"), and reflections on Rita Hayworth. In the third part, they are joined by Barbara Leaming, whose bio of Orson had just come out. The chat is very amiable, almost silly, but it's interesting to see Orson "protesting" Merv and the giggly Ms. Leaming gossiping about him, when you know he's really eating it up (if there was anything he knew well, it was self-promotion).

The visual quality isn't terrific, but this was taken off of rabbit-ears television the first (and, to my knowledge, only) time it aired. Gotta be thankful to my mother for taping this one while I was off at college. Thanks, Ma.

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In this final portion, Orson is maneuvered into talking about Kane, Chimes at Midnight and The Third Man.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Merv interiews Orson, in his final TV appearance

On a more respectful note, Merv was indeed my intro, along with the daytime hosts (Mike Douglas and, locally, Joe Franklin), to the wonderful world of vintage talk shows. During my childhood, Merv's program was on in prime time, and when the networks were awful, there was definitely always something to catch on his show. In seeing the recent DVD collection of his shows, I was struck by how cursory the interviews were (even in his most probing mode, Merv was definitely a predecessor to today's "softest" interviewer, Larry King). I still was exposed for the first time to many of the "old guard" on his show, as well as some of my latter-day favorite comedians (from Pee Wee Herman to Bobcat Goldthwait). His show certainly became an institution as it went on, and it was the Tonight Show for those who couldn't stay up late (or, in the case of a kid like myself, weren't allowed to).

The footage below (more to come!) is the last recorded TV appearance of Orson Welles, who came to do some magic ("whamming" — I love it), talk with Merv in an informal mode, and also do a bit of plugging for the new Orson bio by Barbara Leaming. I won't upload the middle segment, as it is availble on the DVD box, but the first and third portions are not.

Orson does his "whamming" best:

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Merv Griffin, the tabloid TV years

There are certainly many more things that can be said about Bergman and Antonioni than can be said about good ol' Merv, but I thought I'd pay tribute to his TV presence by putting up one of the "salacious" stories aired on the classic Fox TV show A Current Affair. Watch how perennially sopped journo Steve Dunleavy dotes on the very gayness of the story, ably abetted by Merv's lover's lawyer. I don't know how this case was resolved, but it did provide us with a great few minutes of sleazy interviewing (both gents look like they came straight from Central Casting), and a chance for those N.Y. Post-style headline writing: "Merv in Jeopardy," kee-rist!

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Amos Gitai on his approach to filmmaking (the Funhouse interview)

A clip from my interview with Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai.

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Gitai's reflection on his friend Sam Fuller:

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Friday, August 3, 2007

Deceased Artiste Isidore Isou

I pride myself in doing obits for the folks in arts and entertainment who get very marginal coverage in the mainstream press. A case in point is a third filmmaker who died this week. Bergman was a god, Antonioni was a genius, but Isidore Isou — now there was a troublemaker! I had just recently gotten a full-on introduction to Isou by watching his feature Venom and Eternity (1951), which is included on the new Experimental Cinema: Avant Garde 2 set that has come out from Kino International. The film is a major act of provocation, one that I was very happy to review on the show. I have uploaded the part of my review of the Kino box that pertains to the Isou film, plus four short clips from the feature, which is truly still, 50-plus years later, an overwhelming experience. For those who aren't familiar with Isou, here's an interesting Net biography of him, courtesy of Wikipedia.

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Funhouse upload: Deceased Artiste Ingmar Bergman talks about... Deceased Artiste Michelangelo Antonioni

The fact that Bergman died within a day or so of Antonioni is certainly remarkable, as they were of course two of the remaining Old Masters of cinema (I still think of the French New Wavers — still rockin' in their 80s — as a bit younger than they). I couldn't resist putting up this bit of a 2002 TV interview in which Bergman brought up Antonioni's name while discussing the new films he would see in the cinema on Faro, the island where he lived out the latter part of his life.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Hal Hartley on Richard Lester and "A Hard Day's Night"

From my interview with Hartley: the indie icon talks about how his brilliantly terse and amusing dialogue was influenced by the famous ad agency scene in A Hard Day's Night.

Funhouse original -- Godard/Hartley montage

Straight from our recent Hartley interview episode part two, it's my little assemblage of clips from the films of Hal Hartley and their "sources," the work of the great Uncle Jean. Hal discussed how he feels artists have "conversations" in their work with their influences, so sit back and enjoy this "chat" between Hal and the legendary Jean-Luc.

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