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That time Jack Kerouac asked Marlon Brando to make a movie of ‘On the Road’ 1957
04.27.2016
11:55 am

Topics:
Books
Heroes
Literature
Movies

Tags:
Jack Kerouac
Marlon Brando

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It’s fair to say most writers would like a movie made of their books—it’s a way of reaching a far greater audience and pegging a stake on fame, fortune and celluloid immortality. To this end, some writers often dream up a cast list of their favorite actors who they think are best suited to play the fictional characters they’ve created. Though of course this rarely happens as box office clout always beats artistic sensibilities when it comes to casting.

In September 1957, Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road was published to great and immediate acclaim. Film studios clamored to option the book. Warner Brothers expressed an interest as did Paramount, but Kerouac had his own ideas.

The Beat author wanted Marlon Brando to make a movie of On the Road. He thought Method actor Brando was perfect for the central role of Dean Moriarty. Kerouac was ambitious enough to consider himself for the role of his fictional alter ego and Moriarty’s sidekick Sal Paradise. Brando was a hot property. He was considered perhaps the greatest actor of his generation and had been nominated five times for an Academy Award—winning one for his performance in On the Waterfront in 1954. It was a big ask, but Kerouac was hopeful.

“Dear Marlon,” his letter began:

I’m praying that you’ll buy ON THE ROAD and make a movie of it. Don’t worry about the structure, I know to compress and re-arrange the plot a bit to give a perfectly acceptable movie-type structure: making it into one all-inclusive trip instead of the several voyages coast-to-coast in the book, one vast round trip from New York to Denver to Frisco to Mexico to New Orleans to New York again. I visualize the beautiful shots could be made with the camera on the front seat of the car showing the road (day and night) unwinding into the windshield, as Sal and Dean yak. I wanted you to play the part because Dean (as you know) is no dopey hotrodder but a real intelligent (in fact Jesuit) Irishman. You play Dean and I’ll play Sal (Warner Bros. mentioned I play Sal) and I’ll show you how Dean acts in real life, you couldn’t possibly imagine it without seeing a good imitation. Fact, we can go visit him in Frisco, or have him come down to L.A. still a real frantic cat but nowadays settled down with his final wife saying the Lord’s Prayer with his kiddies at night… as you’ll see when you read the play BEAT GENERATION. All I want out of this is to be able to establish myself and by mother a trust fund for life, so I can really go roaming around the world writing about Japan, India, France etc… I Want to be free to write what comes out of my head & free to feed my buddies when they’re hungry & not worry about my mother.

Incidentally, my next novel is THE SUBTERRANEANS coming out in N.Y. next March and is about a love affair between a white guy and a colored girl and is a very hep story. Some of the characters in it you know in the Village (Stanley Gould etc.) It easily could be turned into a play, easier than ON THE ROAD.

What I wanta do is re-do the theater and the cinema in America, give it a spontaneous dash, remove pre-conceptions of “situation” and let people rave on as they do in real life. That’s what the play is: no plot in particular, no “meaning” in particular, just the way people are. Everything I write I do in the spirit where I imagine myself an Angel returned to the earth seeing it with sad eyes as it is. I know you approve of these ideas, & incidentally the new Frank Sinatra show is based on “spontaneous” too, which is the only way to come on anyway, whether in business or life. The French movies of the 30’s are still far superior to ours because the French really let their actors come on and the writers didn’t quibble with some preconceived notion of how intelligent the movie audience is, they talked soul from soul and everybody understood at once. I want to make great French Movies in America, finally, when I’m rich… American theater & Cinema at present is an outmoded dinosaur that ain’t mutated along with the best in American Literature.

If you really want to go ahead, make arrangements to see me in New York when next you come, or if you’re going to FLorida here I am, but what we should do is talk about this because I prophesy that it’s going to be the beginning of something real great. I’m bored nowadays and I’m looking around for something to do in the world, anyway — writing novels is getting too easy, same with plays, I wrote the play in 24 hours.

Come on now, Marlon, put up your dukes and write!

Sincerely, later, Jack Kerouac

 
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This letter was only discovered after Brando died in July 2004. Helen Hall was tasked by auction house Christie’s to visit the actor’s home on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles and select property to include in an auction of his estate.

Hall spent around ten days at Brando’s house sifting through his personal effects “with a fine tooth comb.”  The most valuable thing she had found was an annotated copy of Brando’s script for The Godfather tucked away with all his other movie memorabilia in a bunker in the garden. Hall thought this was the best she would find. On her tenth day at the house, Hall and her team searched through the very last room on their list—Brando’s office.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Can’t look away: Go behind the scenes of films by Dario Argento, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper & more

Dennis Hopper and Tobe Hooper on the set of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
Dennis Hopper (dressed as his character ‘Lt. Boude “Lefty” Enright’) and director Tobe Hooper on the set of the 1986 film, ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2’.
 
As I know many of our Dangerous Minds readers are also fans of movies that curdle even the blackest of blood-types, I’m sure that you will enjoy ogling these “behind the scenes” shots from some of my favorite horror films like Dario Argento’s Suspiria, the second installment of Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw franchise, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (that features a chainsaw-wielding Dennis Hopper, pictured above), and the films of the great John Carpenter, among others.
 
Dario Argento goofing around on the set of his 1977 film, Suspiria
Dario Argento goofing around on the set of his 1977 film, ‘Suspiria.’
 
Images of Dario Argento not being laser-serious for a change on set (pictured above), to candid photos of actors hanging out during their downtime still dressed like their gory characters, as well as amusing shots of FX master, Tom Savini in action happily creating fiends that have frequented your nightmares for the last few decades, follow. That said, some of what you’re about to see should be considered NSFW. But you knew that the minute I said “chainsaw massacre,” right?
 
Director John Carpenter with P.J. Soles and John Michael Graham on the set of Halloween, 1978
Director John Carpenter with P.J. Soles and John Michael Graham on the set of ‘Halloween,’ 1978.
 
More after the jump…

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Behold the ‘holy grail’ of fashion: Adult onesie features the many faces of Steve Buscemi
04.22.2016
09:35 am

Topics:
Amusing
Fashion
Heroes
Movies

Tags:
Steve Buscemi
onesie

Steve Buscemi adult-sized onesie
Steve Buscemi adult-sized onesie by ‘RageOn.’

If the title of this post just made your day, like it made mine, then hey you’re welcome!

Available over at weirdo apparel purveyors, RageOn, this adult-sized onesie features the gorgeous mug of none other than actor Steve Buscemi at varying stages of his long career. Such as his portrayal of bungling kidnapper, Carl Showalter in the 1996 film, Fargo, and a snapshot of young Steve positioned to sit perfectly across your shoulder. You can pick up your very own “Steve Buscemi Galaxy Collage” onesie for the reasonable cost of just $99.84, a relatively small price to pay to have Steve Buscemi all over you.

Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

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‘Hiya Dogface!’: Wasted Iggy Pop goes totally off-the-rails on Australian TV, 1979

Iggy Pop, I'm Bored, 1979
 
In honor of Iggy Pop’s 69th birthday today I thought I’d share this footage of Iggy’s very “Iggy” interview and off-the-rails lip syncing of “I’m Bored” that aired in 1979 on the Australian television show, Countdown.

The video starts with an interview with a glassy-eyed Iggy conducted by Countdown‘s host Molly Meldrum. Despite repeated requests to focus on the “questions” he was asking, Iggy jumps up and down out of his chair, sneers at the audience, and in general acts like a five-year-old version of himself because he’s plainly high as fuck. Then, in what appears to be an unplanned event, Iggy leaves the interview and is nowhere to be seen after a commercial break, which causes Meldrum to advise the audience not to worry about Iggy because he’s “fine.” Right.
 
Images from Iggy Pop's 1979 appearance on Australian show, Countdown
Iggy Pop on ‘Countdown.’
 
I was lucky enough to see Iggy’s electrifying gig a few weeks ago in Seattle for the first stop of his Post Pop Depression Tour and can say without a doubt that Iggy is still “Iggy.” He has no need for such things as shirts, loves the word “fuck,” and jumps around on stage like his pants are on fire.

Happy Birthday, Iggy! Never change!
 


Iggy Pop ‘perorms’ ‘I’m Bored’ from his ‘New Values’ album in 1979

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Celebrity boozehounds hawking hooch: Dennis Hopper, Merle Haggard, Redd Foxx, Sean Connery & more

Print ad featuring Merle Haggard (RIP) for George Dickel Whisky
Print ad featuring Merle Haggard (RIP) for George Dickel Whisky, 1986.
 
Most of the time when our favorite musicians or celebrities appear as though they have “sold-out,” we all breathe a collective sigh of sadness. Such as the time that John Lydon shilled for Country Life Butter (the proceeds from which the crafty Lydon used to fund the creation of PiL’s 2012 album, This is PiL. Take that haters!), or when a part of you died after seeing Bob Dylan in a strange television commercial for Victoria’s Secret in 2004. As was the case with Lydon, it’s not always a bad thing. I mean, even I couldn’t hate on The Cure’s “Pictures of You” (from the band’s brilliant 1989 album, Disintegration) playing in the background of a Hewlett-Packard commercial back in 2003.
 
Dennis Hopper and John Huston for Jim Beam
Dennis Hopper and John Huston for Jim Beam.
 
But back to the point of this post—if there is a more perfect pairing when it comes to commercial endorsements than badass celebrities and musicians pimping out booze, I do not know what it is. And I’m quite sure that many of these vintage ads will have you checking your watch to see if it’s already noon. However, if you’re like me and go by the guideline that it’s always noon somewhere, then congratulations! Because you’re probably on your second Bloody Mary, rationalizing that it’s okay because it’s almost a meal as long as it’s served with olives and celery. Tons of vintage ads for Jim Beam, Smirnoff, Colt 45 and other party liquids, held lovingly by folks such as Merle Haggard (pictured at the top of this post, RIP), Chuck Berry, Dennis Hopper (seen above with director John Huston), Telly Savalas, and two badass ladies—Joan Crawford and Julie Newmar—follow.
 
Julie Newmar in an ad for Smirnoff Vodka, 1966
Julie Newmar in an ad for Smirnoff Vodka, 1966.
 
More celebrity boozehounds hawking hooch (say that in a slurred voice) after the jump…

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J.G. Ballard: The first published profile of the author as a young student in 1951

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J.G. Ballard was a 20-year-old medical student in his second year at Cambridge University when he jointly won a crime story competition organized by the local student newspaper Varsity.

Ballard’s story “The Violent Noon” recounted the events of a violent and gory terrorist attack on a British officer and his family during the Malayan War. It has been described as a “Hemingwayesque pastiche” allegedly written to please the judges. According to “an an unsigned summary of the judges’ reasons for picking” Ballard’s story:

‘Violent Noon’ was the most mature story; it contains patches of high tension, the characters come to life, and the ending is brilliant in its cynicism. The author should, however, avoid a tendency to preach.

The Violent Noon” was Ballard’s first published work. When it appeared in Varsity on Saturday 26th May, 1951, the paper printed a profile of the author—which included Ballard’s first ever published interview:

J. Graham Ballard who shares the first prize of ten pounds with D. S. Birley in the “Varsity” Crime Story Competition is now in his second year at King’s and immersed in the less literary process of reading medicine.

He admitted to our reporter yesterday that he had in fact entered the competition more for the prize than anything else, although he had been encouraged to go on writing because of his success.

The idea for his short story which deals with the problem of Malayan terrorism, he informs us, he had been thinking over for some time before hearing of the competition.

He had, in addition to writing short stories, also planned “mammoth novels” which “never get beyond the first page.”

 
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What these “mammoth novels” were about one can now only imagine. It was four years since Ballard had returned to England from internment at a Japanese P.O.W. camp—the horrors of which were filtered through his work as he later said:

The experience of war is deeply corrupting. Anybody who witnesses years of brutality can’t help but lose a sense of the tragedy and mystery of death. I’m sure that happened to me. The 16-year-old who came to England after the war carried this freight of ‘matter-of-factness about death’. So spending two years dissecting cadavers was a way of reminding me of the reality of death itself, and gave me back a respect for life.

Ballard harbored plans to become a psychiatrist. But this was quickly dropped after his success with “The Violent Noon.” He quit his medical studies at Cambridge and enrolled at Queen Mary University, London to study English Literature.
 
More on young Ballard plus full documentary, after the jump….

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Stained glass windows of Aleister Crowley, Serge Gainsbourg, Johnny Cash, JG Ballard & many more


 
In 2010 and 2011 the English artist Neal Fox executed an utterly gorgeous series of stained-glass windows in imitation of the iconography of saints found in cathedrals all over Europe. The series included Johnny Cash, J.G. Ballard, Hunter S. Thompson, Albert Hofmann, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Serge Gainsbourg, Aleister Crowley, William S. Burroughs, Billie Holiday, and Francis Bacon.

Now, it’s perfectly possible that you will see these images and think, “Wow, those paintings in the stained-glass style are awesome.” So it’s important to emphasize that these are not paintings, Fox actually created the stained-glass windows themselves—in fact, he worked with traditional methods “at the renowned Franz Mayer of Munich manufacturer” in order to produce a dozen windows, each using leaded stained glass in a steel frame and standing 2.5 meters tall.

Put them all together in a room, as the Daniel Blau gallery in London did in 2011, and you have “an alternative church of alternative saints.” Here is what that room looked like:
 

 
The Daniel Blau show was called “Beware of the God.” Alongside the well-known provocateurs and trouble-makers like Crowley and Hawkins is a figure that might challenge even the most astute student of antiheroes, a man named John Watson. Far from the complacent invention of Arthur Conan Doyle, this John Watson is the artist’s grandfather, described by his loving grandson as a “hell raiser” and “a World War II bomber pilot, chat show host, writer and publisher, who in his post war years sought solace in Soho’s bohemian watering holes.”

Quoting the Daniel Blau exhibition notes:
 

As traditional church windows show the iconography of saints, through representations of events in their lives, instruments of martyrdom and iconic motifs, Fox plays with the symbolism of each character’s cult of personality; Albert Hoffman takes a psychedelic bicycle ride above the LSD molecule, J G Ballard dissects the world, surrounded by 20th Century imagery and the eroticism of the car crash, and Johnny Cash holds his inner demon in chains after a religious experience in Nickerjack cave.

 
You can order prints of some of these images for £150 each (about $214).
 

 

 
Many more after the jump…

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The making of ‘The Shining’: ‘A lot of things have happened in this particular hotel’

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Authors hate it when filmmakers fuck around with their work. They see the word as paramount and everything else subservient to it. Take Stephen King. He hated it when Stanley Kubrick fucked around with his book The Shining. Which is surprising as Kubrick’s movie greatly adds to King’s novel.

King sweated a lot blood writing The Shining. The story was as much about the his own personal addictions as it was about some haunted hotel. I like King. I like King a lot, and think he’s due a lot more respect as a writer than he gets. And though I generally prefer King’s books to the films, in the case of The Shining I will always opt for Kubrick’s movie rather than for King’s book.

The reason is simple: Where King filled pages with backstory and character motivation—making everything neat and tidy and very, very explainable—Kubrick left his adaptation of The Shining open—allowing the horror to seep in.

Where King has a genius for storytelling and plot, Kubrick had a genius for making deeply intelligent, visually stunning, multi-layered films that only reveal the director’s full mastery of his art after successive viewings. If ever.
 
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Barkeep, I’ll have a Jack and Coke.
 
The Shining is probably the most discussed and obsessed over movie Kubrick made—though maybe it’s run pretty by 2001: A Space Odyssey. Theories about the film range from coded confessions about the Moon landings to the “narrative of a murder” embedded in the film, to Kubrick’s interest in the Jungian duality of human nature—as seen through the set designs, motifs and parallel characters to a critique of history—the failure to learn from past experience—as the caretaker Hallorann explains to Danny in the film:

A lot of things have happened in this particular hotel, over the years, and not all of ‘em good.

Kubrick was fastidious in making The Shining. Originally scheduled as a seventeen-week shoot, the production went on for fourteen months. That’s around 200 filming days. According to the film studio, Kubrick shot 1.3 million feet of film—roughly a shooting ratio of 120:1. Most movies have a 5:1 or 12:1 shooting ratio—so you get an idea of justhow picky Mr. K was when filming.
 
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Kubrick shot and reshot scenes time and again. There was genius at work in this seeming profligate madness. Jack Nicholson always gave a brilliant first take. Then Kubrick would ask for another, then another—anything up to one hundred takes before he was satisfied. This meant, Nicholson’s performance varied the longer the filming process went on. In the edit, Kubrick often chose the more over the top performances, which he then countered with one where Nicholson underplayed. The juxtaposition of two differing styles highlighted the growing split in Nicholson’s character—revealing the internal battle between good and evil. But let’s be clear—this was Jack Nicholson who supplied the performances, the raw material—not the director.

Kubrick used different psychological techniques to obtain the performances he wanted from his cast. He was particularly hard on Shelley Duvall, who he berated and criticized during filming—though Duvall delivered one of her most memorable performances. Much of Kubrick’s techniques was captured by his daughter Vivian Kubrick, in her documentary film The Making of ‘The Shining’—which followed Stanley Kubrick, Nicholson, Duvall, the other cast and crew members during the long interminable weeks of filming at Pinewood and Elstree Studios.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Watch Burt Reynolds and the Muppets on the unaired pilot for ‘The Orson Welles Show,’ 1978


 
Between the twin humiliations of his frozen peas and Paul Masson commercials, and unable to finish his last feature The Other Side of the Wind, Orson Welles found himself on an LA soundstage with Burt Reynolds, wearing matching red shirts with enormous collars and chatting about showbiz for a TV pilot. This was Welles’ shot at hosting a talk show. There were no takers.

Like much of the great director’s work, The Orson Welles Show was made on the cheap, and if no one will confuse this unloved project with Chimes at Midnight, it’s not because Welles was slacking. In Orson Welles Remembered, the show’s editor, Stanley Sheff, says that he got the job by offering to work for free for three days, which “turned into a year of collaboration with Mr. Welles on The Orson Welles Show.” That’s right: according to Sheff, he and Welles put in a year of eight-hour days editing this 74-minute program on video, “working weekends and holidays when required.” Compare this with Citizen Kane, which started post-production in November 1940 and was first screened in January 1941.
 

 
Did I mention The Orson Welles Show was cheaply made? The budget was such that Sheff had to wear three hats, filling in for Welles as director for a few inserts and playing the part of the violinist in the big finish with Angie Dickinson. And according to the notes on YouTube, it’s not just the canned laughter that makes the lengthy interview with Reynolds (roughly the first half of the show) seem so odd:

Audience questions for the Burt Reynolds Q&A session were scripted, with members of the audience given line readings - this was necessary, as unlike normal talk shows filmed with a multiple-camera setup, the low-budget show was filmed with only one camera, and so it was necessary to do multiple retakes to get multiple camera angles.

The second half of the show runs at a higher gear. Welles intones something about “the unfathomable antiquity of ancient Egypt.” Fozzie Bear gets flop sweat doing his “A material” during the Muppets’ bit, which leads into an interview with Jim Henson (“think Rasputin as an Eagle Scout,” Welles says) and Frank Oz. But it’s the last fifteen minutes of the show that are pure Welles. Fans of F for Fake will discern a strong formal resemblance between that film and the elaborate magic tricks that close The Orson Welles Show; I’m guessing this is where all those hours in the editing room went.
 
Watch the pilot for ‘The Orson Welles Show’ after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Derek Jarman: The iconoclast filmmaker as painter
04.13.2016
10:02 am

Topics:
Art
Heroes
Movies
Queer

Tags:
Derek Jarman
Ken Russell
paintings

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Derek Jarman became a filmmaker by accident. He was originally a painter, an artist who started making home movies with friends at his Bankside home in London. These Super-8 films slowly evolved into movies and one of the most exciting, original and provocative filmmakers since Ken Russell arrived. During a seventeen-year career Jarman made eleven feature films—from the Latin and sand romp Sebastiane through his punk movie Jubilee (1978) to Caravaggio (1986) and the final one color movie Blue. During all of this time, the artist, director, writer, gardener and diarist painted.

Jarman was a student the Slade School of Art in the 1960s where he was taught—like everyone else—to be an “individual.” Jarman felt he was already managing that quite well in that department without being told how. He left art school and worked as a set designer with Ken Russell—most spectacularly on The Devils in 1971 and then Savage Messiah in 1973. His painting career splits into different sections; his early work reflected his interest in landscape, form and color—something which would recur in his films—his later work reflecting his more personal experience. However, as he began making films Jarman shifted from using paint to creating pictures with celluloid.

His return to painting came after his HIV diagnosis in 1986, when he produced a series of Black Paintings—collages made from objects found on the beach at his cottage in Dungeness. He placed these objects on an oily black background—similar to the contrasting black of the tableaux he used in Caravaggio the same year.

As his condition worsened, Jarman painted larger, more abstract canvases. He given a room to paint in where he splashed the canvas with thick bright paints and scrolling words and statements. His influence came from his life, his own films and the work of Jackson Pollock. The brightness and color of the paintings were a defiance in the face of illness.
 
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‘Landscape with Marble Mountain’ (1967).
 
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‘Landscape with a Blue Pool’ (1967).
 
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‘Avesbury’ III (1973).
 
More of Derek Jarman’s paintings after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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