« WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

Episode 516 - Leonard Maltin

2014-07-20 | 🔗
A lot of things in Leonard Maltin's life were unexpected. He never expected to become a ubiquitous American film critic. He didn't expect to be entrenched in show business after spending his formative years revering it. And he definitely didn't expect to become a comedy podcast legend. Leonard and Marc talk about how these unlikely things came to be.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Oh my god, let's do those our yoga, the buggers, what the buddies, what the buccaneers, what the fuck, what the the the balls, what the fuck the holocaust. I am mark marin's is w E F, I'm sort of sweaty. I don't scorn on man, I'm not what's goin out my ears, but if anyone can identify with the ears humming popping a sort of a lot and bit of scientists pressure, I'd like to identify with you. I'd like you to reach out to me and say: yes but that is what I had see. I will I will self diagnose by consensus, I'm not beyond that. I too its move, hey. Let's move out of my sinuses, and into in into what's at hand, which is today I talked a leonard Molten- yeah, the leonard entered molten, the guy with the books with the beard, the guy, with the movies, with the rating system, the guy that that, is the barometer of these. lord form review we'll talk
please be more like where, where does he come from wears a guy? You know he's an older guy. What What made him man he is a movie lover. It was not his his his agenda to become owing cale Andrews sarris, I had a few a decision, was I had a few. Those waiting around my grandma neighbor was a huge number who had just thirty years of film magazines of all kinds. I was sort of fastened with black and white films when I was very- I didn't like the movies, but I liked working pictures of the actors. I could name most actors in black and white films without seeing the the movies and I sort of Yet in my fascination with how we wouldn't general, which, as time goes on a road. In fades, my friends, yes, so denver denver holy shit, denver comedy works. denver colorado on back and god dammit
You know I was not feeling great. Last week, mentally I've been very on edge. I've been very volatile. The little thing or bothering me I'm quick to explode. I was just wrought with a seething sort of discomfort and aggravation in anger and time. I got the denver on Friday. I was like. Why am I even doing this? What's going on? at last, I was in denver. It was just a parade of drunkenness, and I remember that a couple of the late shows where tricky but here's what I forget his forget when I enter a lot of time When I go out of town, I forget that I'm a fucking professional comic, that's been doing this more than half my life and if on fuckin stage and can handle himself anywhere, would actually proof or it to get fucking weird, Pow look out just shoot. My pants just coffee, dak up get that a deputy of pod outcome. now there was a little bit of trouble friday night.
Tween shoves, and also I some people endeavour got upset with me by tat, saying that it's a drunk you place, I've been other than glass ago, scotland. I know some of you took on bridge with that, but death thirty show woman, had to be taken at the club because you vomited right so that doesn't happened to me. Let me think anywhere ever denver, seven already not even nine o clock show seventh he had grown person can hold their liquor. I don't know the back story, but I am making fun of you. If I make fun of your town and I was even making fun of denver if you're going to tell me it's not a junkie town, I'm going to tell you you're a liar. I going a montreal thursday, three saturday, I'm doing a solo show up there on saturday I m doing some tel Aviv gal, I think I'm doing irish. Your fears show, I might do. One of a tells midnight shows that I'm going to be up there at the festival of yours, if you're up and around so frightened, what am I talking about saturday night saturday night
Chris charpentier is opening forming me for great it's time and the on going through, like a comic I'm feeling like a fuckin rockstar, because the comedy so hot. What a hot room and then it happens. The adena happens there were in the audience in, and I see some commotion there's commotion out front. I go out front, get soda this commotion and might now no no. No. It can't be guy. we come so far. We ve three shows in there also good Why? Why? We're ready now I was almost out for four, for it could happen an basher rats. Bride, Werner goofy thing nodded. baker avail, but something I remember there is, I can of em, and am I gonna fuck no guy damn it now. Why do they come to the comedy clubs? Why do they come? Who set
tradition rolling when what is it ever? Ok, why won't? They learn? Oh my I just turn defensive in horrible. I was, I give them They show up the promises. I am like I'm gonna try the theatre next time cause? I don't need this shit That out loud to the woman who book place or within earshot. Because hers. My argument is that, like you know, I have fans that come to see me. I want to do a good show for the fans I don't want to have to babysit. A dozen dumb women, who won thing, but attention who don't usually care? Who the comic is. I don't who made this a thing some community in the eighties must adjust made an entire show about them positive way and that's that, Oh ball rolling! It's almost like it's in a book of what to do in a bashful, bachelor rats, fucking bastard. For it was like living there. Nearby ten of emma was huge and they paid extra that certain seats and mother is with the mother of the bride is with them and she's the loudest of em all in there.
sitting and it's before the show and they're already doing that thing like hey. What do you guys do? You guys want to get shot every bit? Yeah yeah, woo woo, so I'm fucking losing it you know it is part of the job, the amistad, a comedian. I can use nato comedy anywhere. That is what I ice. That's what I've done with my life. I've prepared I've played every situation and I don't know what kind of night they wanted to have, but I could make it a bad one. I could get memorable in the worst way possible. The first guy goes up and there are already fuck and out of control and then at the club shuts down a bit and they got a guy literally standing over them. and he s not the way I wanted to be, but it was a way I'd be so he kind of pleasure said he does our right now. Might what the fuck am this guy be good, em already like jacked up, and I just got out there and I just eviscerated them for ten minutes. I got down on my hands and knees and said, but some of the most heinous shit possible, to preemptively
destroy the possibility of these drugs needy women who care not for the rest of the audience to just feel the wrath of me, but also give them attention. I was relatively diplomatic. I did give very heinous, I did say some awful. things, but I was like oh what I meant, Congratulations a day it was fun for everybody. It was. It was you know what they behave themselves in and I would engage with them occasionally and I think my fans had a good time at a swipe. At John, I had a slight john. I say so. I said some things I could. I can't take back but tat they they seem to have a good time afterwards. The bride came up to me. She said that was really fun and It was exactly what we wanted and- and like? Oh, my god? I must be losing my touch. How come she's not crying I must be losing my edge. Why are they also perky and then, and then I said well. Okay, well, I'm glad you had a good time in the club that the continent to kick in people out. They need to make money tune and then
I said to me: she said the one thing was they: they did kick my mother out and like our rights to win win for everybody there. U story at a good time. I got to dump about fifteen years cynicism about marriage onto your lap. And and your mother got kicked out I think everybody gets a good story when at a good time and then after the show. The woman who were who but twice I don't you dare tell me you're gonna go, in the theater, my GM sorry, I know what was going to happen. I was just being a diva. I was being a dick. I was being a you know, a sensitive baby and as a good thing about it is, I love doing comedy gloves You know, I know I waffle and I make myself crazy before I go on, but when you have a hands on situation like that, that kind of pushes you to to get into your house mode which I used to be in all the time, but sometimes now it sort of a gift. And, to go hands on and improvise about. Thirty minutes of an hour in fifteen minutes, just kind of write it out and make it work in an
ride the wave of hostility and charm and diplomacy, and just well. How is that not entertaining? It was one of the best shows I got. I got a partial standing over that one too and I'll never do anything but comedy works. When I go to denver because I'm a club make at heart, and you know that the job man something You got a deal with the woman with a dick had on this one didn't have one. I mean Happy about it and I ve been your comic analysing in this them into don't get me wrong. We all have the same reaction which has fuck. basher rats, god dammit How am I gonna get my work done now? it's gonna be a war skill. The battle Just gonna be me right, sending everything, that's bad about men for them. By worked out, it worked out fucks. Thank you for being concerned. Okay,
all right? What's, let's talk movies and to find out who entered molten is let's goods. into leonard molten. because he's really just these almost like dimensions rendered molten has for you, but now it's not just beyond the screen. Now we're gonna make three dimensional, that's my hope We did that, so it's doktor wondered molten. Leonard maltin- you are miss- now can in the world of podcasting. You ve been made a legend whereby, by my god, my comrade doug benson, yes, who he invented game. He invented a game and, as made me cool
It has given me street credit that I never had before. Finally, yeah you're on your way live that you how long you live long enough, mar the anything's by you guys like any possible god, damn lucky bay. Of game. Alexander people come up to me all the time you don't know, from any other form of solving of communication, but they love doug's, podcast and their love that that's awareness! I don't feel that I'm very good at it, but I did have a miraculous pole. On your naming I it was it was actually the movie was the wizard of oz, but I I had a name, the top three build name right and it came. and was it going to be, was to be at the the it was, can be burnt, lar right or was it going to be a who pay the timid, hayley, haley, jack Haley and in
I went with bert lar as the third united, and I got it is astounding november. I mean that wouldn't be a pull for you, but you know I don't know this. I'm the world's worst player of that game of boy now ask anybody, including that I am the world's worst, of that came my mind, doesn't sort information that way yet cause he wrote stuff down from research yeah. It's not like. You wrote the books from your memory yeah exactly and now we live in the age of Google, where you can look things up yet debt at all, or I mean you could actually go back to my book the out if the old fashioned fashioned after one, right? Why think at all? When you have the google? That's right exactly, but what interests me really is that day in I studied I minor in film criticism. Nineteen, eighty one! Well, yeah! There was a period in my life where, in growing up my my grandmother's next door, neighbor new jersey, pompton lakes, new jersey, where you for your from jersey, north jersey, teaneck, haha, well born in Manhattan. The there till I was for the outward wearing. What are you come from exactly
steamer grants for a generation secondary second generation What are you a simulated parent and, where did you where they live in Manhattan? opera west side on west seventy seven. Great and then, when my wife and I got married, we moved to two blocks away from where it has grown up on. Seventy, ninth and amsterdam really on purpose. He knew it no, not on purpose. I I did yeah, but it was just like the upper west side and, and there was a new building that had just gone up and my wife and I were you, know our apartment hunting and he was a wonderful building location, where everything was new right, you know and ready to move in and we did it and we could afford it even harder we could afford back. Then, He then Jesus, that's thirty! Nine years ago yeah them, but you haven't lived in manhattan in how long,
thirty one years ago you left the you came out here. Well, I got this. You know I got this freak incident in my life. I got a phone call about auditioning for entertainment tonight toward the end of the first season. I should go back a half a step like every author. Here you want to get on shows to promote your books, sir, and I got lucky. I got on the today show yeah and then I got lucky again. They had me back, I'm just written a book about movie comedians, charlie chaplin to woody Allen and jean shall interviewed me in front of a nicer teen shall it and He he said that we don't have to stick to these pre interview. Things Ass had now talk about everyone else, where this loose lively, funny, combat ashen, three thousand,
miles away. Somebody at paramount television saw this segment here and said to the new boss of this new show: yeah you're. Looking for a film critic, aren't you he said. Yes, we ought to check out this guy us on. The today show and my phone rang in new york yeah the phone rang right. I pick up the phone in your home, I'm home right, I'm typing on my typewriter. You may, though, he sure- and the guy says that, would you be willing to audition, I said yeah sure and they flew me out to l a to do an audition I love a couple of movie reviews, I'm shortening the the very long story. Sure and ah they used my auditions on the air and they never officially hired me took a long time for them to hire me, but they just kept flying me out and having me tape, stuff So I commuted essentially for a year and a half from new york to allay weekly. No ever every third week at first, which was sort of livable, be up.
I was always home on the weekend with thy wife in and home for two full weak right and then back for a week, and then it got to be every other week and that really took a toll. and then our spending all my time planning who am I going to have dinner with when am I going to see this film should see this film in new york, this? No, maybe I'll wait seat in l a wasted energy year and my wife. Finally, ultimately, it's always my wife Alice, sara enough near enough already, so we sublet our apartment and moved out here temporarily chirp thirty one years ago and never left never left. Her daughter was born here, yes I'll phone, you girl! Why? I? What what? What compelled you like? What? What was it? Would you daddy what? grow household? Did you grow up? My dad was an immigration judge, and my mother was a housewife who had been in show business. She was she sang a night clubs when she was a teenager and play the accordion during their big band. Error, Oh that was observed during the cabaret night club here, ok, say and was
novelty actor. No, no! She was so shoe. The singers was local issues. Is she played accorded an earnest income? Now I know, if you heard her play, you would know it wasn't in earnest, she could accompany herself and- and so she still did occasional club dates- and I was growing up sang sang around here and there, and so, but most of the growing up was in teaneck yeah and my dad my uncle die when I was a year and a half old and he had been a pianist and a songwriter right, never a great success, but he had songs published and recorded, and my father took over his ascap estate and membership and subscribed to weekly variety. Okay and as a kid I found variety, just absolutely fascinating. An exotic about because of the movie stars know because of everything harvesting about show business, not just the movie stars. We used to have a column mark that went why to allay who was traveling, that weaken york, ellie Ella to london- and you know,
and wide to all these things. It's like wow, there was it was. Glamorous glamorous arising. I would read nightclub reviewed, vegas right, nightclub reviews, people I wish I could. see like who are your people, then I guess this is old. School show business I know so like Ethel merman were not aware. Louis prima and keely smith, haha loved them used to watch them whenever they're on the ed sullivan show, if you're a jazz guy, yeah jazz and pop haha yeah love mel Torme your first passion- was the music? I was exposed to music. I took piano lessons here and who was always music going on in our household ah, but did go down till I got know how old are you now? I'm sixty three budget. Were you You were you in now close enough to new york to go delight. Their village vanguard go see, shows how well and that when I got when I got to be like twelve, they let me go into the city by myself, mostly with amazing. I remember when I went to my grim this house, like our starting a forty, take the bus. India would never let a twelve year old kid. Oh no, no course not know!
I thought no one better than eyelashes jump on the bus. Go the port authority right either that or I could go across. The george wash where I was in new jersey, take the bus across the george washington bridge and then take the subway downtown yeah and either way yeah, and I was a friend and I would spend the in the city where but we'd be going to the new yorker theatre, the revival, theatres, the failure, the new yorker. Aha, the museum of modern art which showed you re repertory films. Every day. That was what we were mostly doing. It was yeah, but I got a little older. I went and why you- and I was around Tom. I really got seriously interested in jazz and I did get to go to the vanguard and I did get to go to you know the half note of some other places like that and then, when I got out of college apparent ethically here and I was freelancing and actually trying to make a living at freelancing, because for the first time,
I said to a friend. I would really love to write about chairs. But how do you sort of announced to the world hey, I'm here to write about Jarrah yeah and he said in the village voice takes freelance. I said they do. He said yeah. I wrote a piece on spec a review and set it into the voice and they bought it it's great on what? Ah, it was a review of a a great pianist and bandleader named duke pearson, who was at the half, know haha, and I got a check for sixty five bucks. And I think it was the most exciting paycheck I've ever gotten in. My big fear is that the first time you're paid as a writer. No, no no I've been published before haha, but it was the village voice and it was yeah. About jazz which which had fallen in love with, who was the only one, not hand off? Was he writing it? He was while he stood. He did his column for many many years, but here he was a separate. You no name I line, but gary getting started running for the voice. At the same time, I didn't he has gone on to become one of the press.
When the jazz writers of our generation. Well, when you say that you in you, he went to n y. U what were you? What were you studying while at that time there was? oh undergraduate, film study programme, that's how long this right, but feel that he's different than film reduction. So right, yeah not- and I didn't want to be a filmmaker. You just wanted to write about right. so what I did was. I was a journalism major turn out to be the right choice. Then they were very nice. They. Let me cherry pick film courses I wanted to take for credit, so I got to stick to do some interesting stuff. Film lies there and history documentary and interesting stuff, like that. Will what compelled you don t you like to take that approach? I mean I mean you say you are going to see these. These movies katy revival, houses who you're already yo kind of fascinated with going back this island here and get back to the beginning of well, my guy had a watch. All those movies you re, I had watch him. Dw grip in tower watch your city see a I loved watching them, but there are movies I wouldn't have seen otherwise bright.
I been in in a film studies programme. My teacher was actually a fairly renown british film critic. I guess his name was roger men, Oh yeah very well, and I talk I took history with man down for a year and but I became sort of I don't know wasn't disillusion, but I became fascinated with it. The dialogue of criticism, which I dont know, exists as much it used to at all anymore. So when you got into it, what was it that really kind of you compelled you to write about film? Well, it was film history that really got me hooked. I never thought of myself becoming a film critic at all right. I didn't think I was smart enough to do that. And are you died enough to do that where there are some critics around at the time? Oh sure? Well, that was the year of andrew sarris and pulling the idea to minimise yeah yeah yeah river happening. I remember reading sarris his original essay about the otter theory right when it came out, which was you know that was created.
right or yes, earth shattering right. Many published a paper back the new american or on the american cinema, which circulated all of that material together, Andrey sarris, it's right in and then there were sight and sound. The vat magazine, magazines and eat yo, see when I started so that was already happening so you're. Looking at that stuff. This is high minded shit man. You have a that. That was way I was kind of above my head on what we re trying to do. Did you think I mean when you, Taking that in your eyes, somebody who spent the wife writing by phone, I'm just asking of it from our somebody, because I read this stuff too and there's a moment there were or or what's his name, a jury, allotments pisa on symbiotic and cinema and their there. These and yet these Peter wolin stuff on semiotics. I couldn't do that. like. I could neither, but it seemed in. It seems important to me that that day, like so upset. I couldn't understand. We never got as far as semi annex three it's hard,
now it, but what is now see I into I'm? I fell in love with movies, largely at first because of tv costs as a child of the first tv generation. Yeah tv was a living museum of movie right. I got every day I watch laurel and hardy every single day, how great was out on job was at genoa led a lever, the eta in jersey, right yeah, and every day. I would I our boy little rascal yeah, it can be dangerous. I would watch the stooges when they came on. I would watch an endless endless old cartoon yeah, thousands hundreds you know a week couldn't get enough of them and and unlike a lot of my friends, I was curious about them. The difference we mean normal, a kid I wanted to know more rights, and I went
life and, of course, I washed walt disney. Every week I came home watch the mickey mouse club. Every day I wash walt disney on his weekly tv show and he would often delve into his own history. Europe's past yeah. I got hooked, noisome kids get hooked on baseball rioting and I got hooked on movies in the movie history and I went to the local library where I spent a lot of my youth and there weren't that many books to take out of that year. There was one book on disney. It was a good one, but me I was just that won't be a. There was one book on chaplain. Was it mandela's book? No was theodore, huxtable, ok and. which they then disallowed a discontinued copy. I was able to buy for ten cents. That was the first movie book I ever bought at a library. Sale over overstocks sense, good deal a wonderful deal and have I just I gobbled all this up a book on laurel and hardy came out when I was ten or eleven years old, took it off from the library read it returned, it took it out again and again read it twice
returned it took it out again, read it again and then and then you became sort of a you yourself. You wrote on these film community, while when I was twelve or thirteen, I started writing about all the stuff in my own little home, made magazine what we used to call him those days, a fancy and what what? What were you writing about? What was your approach or I well at that time I was just you know, trying to simulate what I'd seen in print already riding on the career of buster, keep sure a career of Douglas Farah, clear, twice: yeah, okay, right yeah, you know trying to imitate the groner essential and I and publishing myself, and then I found out that there was a whole world of these fanzines and I offered my services to two of them are particular at twelve at thirty Your thirteen gap? We re now you're thirteen only after the accepted the articles once that, once they took and there was no money involved, that is all labour of love that Israel, amateur publishers and editors. Ah, but I was just thrilled to see my byline
you know- and it was very proud I published m, even though they never thirteen yet and that what was way. What do you think, because it's interesting that later, the upon crock culture be sort of kind of built itself out the same way, regimes in local and local seen. So what was the community of film fancies? You are driven by what what was a jest up. You'll feel nerds, was it people that were? Was it in an ongoing discourse about certain? There was nothing. There was nothing that you could even remotely kali discourse, but is about You guys are loved all movie, ok at I was on the young and of the curve and one of the the young person, but I was a rarity ma- am it was nice was at the grown ups took me in. They were very kind to me and an accepted me over with you wait, so even at that young age, I imagine it's hard to remember to really discern that. You know an obsession with the movies is there
a lot of those guys around for a while. I don't know how many of them are still around, but there was a period there. I think that that the nostalgia for for silent films or musicals it sort of it seemed to have peak out during after a jack Haley Jr made the that's, entertainment and, and some of those movies that there was a heightened appreciation for for the film silent film comedies and for for some of that stuff that that seems to be almost gone now while the same actually the silent comedies are alive and well they there there a surprising number of showings all over the country all over the world with live music sometimes we didn't really buster Keaton box out was of debris issued it yet rain ombu re? How is that great yeah? I need a great when all their fantastic. Ah, you know nothings. Nothing is quite the same as saying it in person with live, but do you think I guess might my question? Is the eu in looking at the new statute, for that is that you in the eu once the sixties come around and once
I toured the areas establish and once you have this this, this new understanding of film, that it seemed to me that there was people that really held onto the purity of of what the simplicity of film of that. and and and I think there is a fear that it would just be steam rolled and in it and disappear or something, but it mattered. So much out of this is not a regional thought out in that era of Pauline Kalen andrew says we're talking about mitchell, mid sixties through through seventies. Ah people debated film, people were passionate about film people talked about the new films. It was a big deal. The way people talk now
breaking bad right or about how so car right or about, but it was a small. It is a small group of people. It was a minor now agree that the dialogue is, is consumers the entire planet, sex I'll, have access to each out? We have access to each other, unlimited access to an unfettered unfettered one hundred and forty characters, access to everybody. Exactly I mean when I tell people what I used to have to do to publish my fancy. First, I started with a man a graph machine there's plenty of. Thirdly, even even before, actually but like the ones just gave me from the civilian so well by that time was professionally printed right from a local printer. Ah, and but when I darted film fan monthly right march. It was For nine years I published that magazine. What's interesting, see cars, so this is nineteen. Seventy two entered is nineteen, seventy two and on the cover these too, that you gave me you know you have a gable in lombard right now, harleigh Harlow gave one gene harleigh from wings. What is it from
from my I'm, not sure which from us from that there could be from hold your man. Ok and then he got will rogers yeah. Now this king seventy two? Yes, this was not the discourse no this. We know this was not the discourse, which is why is always an oddball magazine for, for you know for a very specialised, a niche, we didn't call it that then niche audio for people that, like those old movies like those old movies, yes and even then, even when I was publishing the idea, having will auditors on the cover was not a. Commercial idea, though no like you? Look like you re setting out to make a fortune nelson mandela, but it, but if I'd put even then, if I put bogart on the cover, that would have been a better idea. We're gonna have to assume that you added bogart coverage point. No, don't assume you didn't you do now Nigel Bruce cover played you no doctor, watson, the basle, rathbone Ok, so this wasn't just you, you were an editor. I was the editor publisher. I licked stamp stuffed envelopes. My dad help me pick up the bill.
Incidentally, what you were driven any of this point by nineteen? Seventy two, I a year easy writers out. Yes, five easy this is his out. Yes, you know what the word now, maybe the longer not the longer, by better off starting to flourish and copal having the early seventies. You know the great flowering of american cinema- But have you americans, you emeritus aim of the american tours right within which are now the touchstone for all young filmmakers that I mean they look to that period as as the high rightly or the roma sure the anti hero and there the existential character, but but what I am, what I'm looking at is that you ve got gable and are about on the cover your. What were you avoiding lenin said we're going against the tide. Is that what you really want to know not deliberately I saw I saw easy writer. I saw five easy pieces. I absorb all of that. Two. When we are dealing a lot, I loved all got all man. I was often justice too much mackay
and missus Miller is a masterpiece. I hated the first Simon fell over that the second. I've watched you, I nine or ten times I work. I welcome the ones I have problems with by like there's like the longer by doesn't work for me not my favorite is if every nashville great pure Heaven pure Evan, abso pure mash, and I got to meet him. I got to chat with them a couple times, but what was it? intention, so you you go from this? Not writing. You not might write movie criticism, no europe, If you're writing, what would you call a movie history, okay and then interviewing as many of the the veterans of that era? As I could who'd you interview at that time? Well, see I mean again off beat when I made my first journeys out here too, allow land in sixty nine, where we're going out for then I came out too a bunch of interviews for my magazine for this magazine right. don't family. I wake up that. What was the public
What was readership about fifteen hundred people all over the world? And and you know what I was very personal. I mean there are the kind of mail I got in those EU member male sure yeah, but stamps right. Yet I should get male, no people, people who loved it loved it like I kind of feel like I'm so glad, you're, keeping the spirit of this alive, yeah, yeah or or sending the additional thoughts or corrections or saying. Oh, you should have action is performance in this film now, the great one or two, but I came out here- we'd Ralph Bellamy. You did yeah are you still around? No now they're all gone. He worked to a way where he worked well into his career, he's in trading places trading places with eddie murphy. You know that story. This is apparently a true story and in fact John Landis told me it was true and he directed the movie eddie murphy is an atr, a makeup trailer one morning, yeah ralph bell
and don ameche to in a long time. Movie actor here are sitting there and they're all getting made up here and Ralph says you know are don. I figured out this is my ninety eighth movie. How many have you made any sir sir g? I think I've made about Fifty eddie murphy says hey between us. We met a hundred fifty moby. I also read Ralph bellamy I interviewed joan blondell ha ha. I interviewed character actors like Grady Sutton, who played wc fields, idiot nephew in the bank. Dick was a wonderful guy and you are thrilled to do it. Old road beyond words and in when you sat with these people, who I even imagine at that time were getting on in year. Yes, indeed, you know what what were the type of? What would you ask w seafield sidekick? what I mean. I asked him how we got started right and he had interesting stories of coming out breaking into the movies and then eighteen, twenty seven I mean I'm too I'm talkin to somebody who was out here in the town
Please mark that you were completely immersed in the myth of hollywood. Oh yes, absolutely you have it all realities to you know, but I mean, but it was wonderful. He you know, fields liked him fields used to him. Most was Grady. Sutton and fields used him several times because he he played off him. While he knew he was a good foil and- and he wasn't trying to steal, seen na enough, and so so they were, they were they. There were some portico I Viewed, Mitchell, lies and who was an art director turned director in the golden age he directed to scripts by Billy, weiler and charles bracket and and while always said it was watching what miss lies and did wrong with screenplays. It made him wanted to raw heap. I hid illumined July's knows a very interesting idea.
I mean so I you know I couldn't get enough of this stuff and just loved it and the way you said you wrote. You talked to jean shout about the great film comedians yeah. What what again Emmy, you call yourself a historian by there must have been. What was your insight into? Who did you come? Yet you Jackie, cover better, keep our all of all the people that else eldest and hardy darn highfields feels paranoid mae west, Harold, lloyd, Harry Langdon, the three stooges aben castelo, jerry louis danny K, Bob hope you did. I wasn't red scale yeah! That's that whole book, which I am preparing now to revive as an e on kindle, and in that book so well did pretty well and what we was this again history or were you? Did you go deeper into the the ideas of the type of comedy these people? Well I'd. I try to
bring some some perceptive witty that a word sure to get out insight insight into what they didn't have. Did it won't? Always you can? I also- and I also got to to interview people who worked with them, to give some insight into their or their em value our buckle? Fatty article is a chapter on him and mabel normand. Another great comedian workshops, a chaplain, Did you read jerry stars book? I fatty know you should really. I heard it was good Tevye area it's a novelist asian from the first from fatty point of view. I right here that focuses on his drug addiction in his troubles. Yes, but but you, but it doesn't seem like it's. You, like your entire. agenda, but you you were not at all boy guy, you you didn't or not, and I was not looking for dirt, but but
but you were not as fascinated I. I tend to think that there are people that are equally as fascinated in in how we would for the dark reasons that you are for the for the light reason. That's true kenneth anger covered that the turf rather well another name, another name, that nobody gives a shit about it. You know what I mean like I I mean. Is hollywood Babylon even imprint? I mean it? Is I'm sure it is? He started it yeah. I know he invented but that's the gore vacation of it, the elevated of india and we obviously tabloid have been around for ever right, but when confidential was in the fifties right- and that was the right, the really serious see mused of them. Did you, like? I ellie confidence. I did it's like I. Why we watch the united front. You, like I'm, a very critical of modern nor any uniting, uniting quite process it as honouring year the form much as I really I didn't realize it did, but it's probably for actual averted chances are very, very smart, ivy guy, it's smart man and he knows films as well as anybody alive. Ah, so yeah
So who are you favoured film comedians I know everybody everybody I just all of them, but you must have had one that really moved via chaplin. As my god is, he kaplan is kind of it all starts with chaplin. Okay, me, you know, and I find them endlessly fascinating endlessly fast for what reason, well. If you ve ever seen kevin brow, loan David goes great documentary called unknown chaplain out all of his raw footage right from a certain period in his is career yeah, and so he he shot everything he rehearsed and worked out. Ideas. While the camera was role it right, they figure this out. I used all this footage right and cultivated it into a documentary that is just mesmer. Ah You see him, develop an idea and refine right and get it better and get it better and then get it even better and then finally get it perfect, and you know he was, he was unique. He was, he was truly a gene
one of a kind where there was a year in my recollection that the sort of celebration of chap, when a lot of it revolved around yet his characterisation of the underdog, an eight year and his incredible. Your empathy for for people who were near know, downtrodden right I remember too, that he was the first real superstar at word. They didn't coin in those days yeah, but he started working exactly one hundred years ago. Actually this is the centenary year and film was nineteen fourteen. He max Senate sign him at the very end, I think December. Nineteen thirteen started making films in nineteen fourteen picture. This there's not only no internet, no cable in another. Not only is there no television there is,
we even radio yet where I hey all there is- is newspapers and magazine. That's communication. Re within months of his screen debut, he was a star and by the end of nineteen fourteen he was a worldwide phenomenon, not just a star, a phenomenon. They put the standees of him outside theaters and say he's here today. People would flock huh. Ah there were suddenly there were chaplin imitators. There were charlie chaplin costume contests. There were charlie chaplin, comic, strips and animated films within another year. Er so ah, is truly a phenomenon, and it all happened before modern communication and how potent he was, and then he started united artists with what married mary pickford and douglas fairbanks and griffith yep an amazing history. Amazing history yeah, I was like. I was obsessed and fascinated with pictures of old movie stars.
It was weird because I never made it can my grandmother sort of was into it and then I just I could probably idea five more stars, and I would know their work. It's weird. The pictures to me were were very moving for some reason like I couldn't tell you that at seeing the douglas fir banks movie, but I know exactly what you are and there was an awareness you see before the ear of narrow casting in a before this everybody running their own channel everybody who, through their own communications industry in in miniature There was more of a consensual or consensus popular culture yeah. You know everyone's I even when there are three networks and exactly what he has ever it networks right I'll get since it. So so, if you wanted to see the beatles solomon show you how to sit through Sophie Tucker, you know
or myron column. You now am. I wouldn't go on the relevant joe s exactly or senior whence. Is god bless you? I got two minutes, a rare non yiddish performance from myelin cohen, so you are exposed. To these other forms of show business just by accident or us moses. Everybody was right. we want to know one didn't know who send your winces was that's right in nineteen sixty two right in our ninety sixty five sure he was ubiquitous, yeah and and if we should explain that he was one of the great ventriloquists, who usually have a history who used, among other things, his hands. A johnny was the little guy in the air air pedro, in the box. Oh that's all right all right! That is that a great great at any to be a hundred want maisie man In all your real name this loss? I've kept his last name Moreno once islam morning I met him and his wife, they were lovely I have a picture of me with whence us and pay
in the box. When my beard was very dark and his wife said I looked like Pedro, so I have a picture of us together, that's sweet! So the point b, that yonder that four for you chaplain represented the birth of the powerful. Yes and anna Bertha screen comedy really hot and the individual screen comedian and buried. There were comics before him, but he really set the standard, and but most of it was slaps. Because there was no sound right, but he will and again within just a year or two he starts finding more to it than simply knockabout stuff, the simply kicking somebody in the rear, end and then running. We are dead, this sort of heavy hearted, moral, tat yes, well, I mean some of them who supported that
more nuance and quiet while a lot of his early films. The immigrant is wonderful tour. He did these twelve short subjects year he's been paid a fortune of money for mutual comedies mutual films, it within two years time to call the the mutual dozen and these dozen films easy street, the immigrant, the rink. Ah, one am the cure: they're, all great little films, they're they're, little models of perfection of of storytelling and the comedic form, and and and and there and and when you see that documentary you see how hard he worked to make it look so easy. So he was sort of a you know, not only a gifted storyteller, but you know the the meticulous, the physical craftsman, oh yeah, I e o. He you know he definitely had a vision and Heart was in the right place and is of a developed, a dish and he developed division and an end, and it kept growing and when he started to include elements of pathos and wistfulness in his,
not everybody liked that my Lord it attic dynamic in the features he d. He approaches it in the short, but then when he made the kid with jackie cougar yeah, that's a real cheer jerk and it still works as a teacher cause coogan such a natural but would adorable kid and its relationship with charlie is so endearing that it tears your heart out and is it wonderful, the gold rush as brief as wonderful as well as they have a guy that point, acts matter, sway yeah when their eaten issue, Oh, that name here, you know max why I do know magazine you. I mean it Pardon me- I don't have the time to do like I don't tell tend to get completely obsessed with things but you're the idea during appeared in my life. I was very interested by their keaton was astounding, and when you have teachers that are really telling you that you have to sort of context was historically, which I think is a big problem because of the internet. Now because of of where culture is. Is that everything sort of floats without contacts everything sort of form, I'm afraid so?
river at an ever present now right, so so where's, the relative importance of things will get aid. It's getting lost you. You know that even the there's, no way to realize like well. That not only is this great, if people like, why don't get it, it's like! Well, no one had ever done it before yeah exactly but my when my daughter was in middle school yeah. I think she was in tenth grade and he maybe was high school. One of her teachers was doing a film course and asked if I would come by and speak to the kids, because they were watching citizen kane. Okay, so I stopped by one morning: it's high school right, so they can't they can't watch a two hour movie during a class period right there watching it and minute chunks. It's crazy in end, you sitting a desks here in a room where the lightest spilling in through the so bright blackout, runs and and their kids. Yet, and he hasn't told them anything about what else is going on in the world. The nineteen forty one they haven't seen what other films looked like a nineteen, forty one. I have no context right, I mean This is like the world's worst way to watch a great move. He
You couldn't invent or maybe on an airplane if they done all that and what is on an airplane. That could have been worse right, but that would be the only way right and it's like what are you gonna say to these kids? and then, of course, you saying to them: ok, here's the world's greatest movie watch it Don't worry she ate? What what did you do? I tried I try to get a little background. A little contest. how revolutionary was for its time. It's not a noisy movie, no, no! I it's a compelling movie, no matter what, but you the only way to really appreciated folly is to get what he was doing. That was so different. That was so unusual at that moment. What I mean by for me that that the wondering the resonated with me in the orson welles cannon I was told cinematography, yes, that year, that unit you know you get his genius. I think was the first time I realize, like the others, genius, but then there is the other genius yeah, whoever they
it was the genius behind the gene. While I know I'll see it when I was a kid there was another place in Manhattan. I used to go to that. Calder was the huntington hartford museum haha, the millionaire had a dedicated museum or columbus circle and they had a film program and they brought in guests and one day they had attribute want. One month had a tribute to the director ruben mammalian uh huh. I never heard of him and I never thought about directors. I was only interested in the stars right. I was like fifteen sixteen and I heard mammalian speak while mammalian, who was the original director of porgy and bess on stage in an oklahoma, onstage and and then did landmark movies. He did this
the the the the the most revolutionary early talking musical yeah. He did the first film in technicolor had many milestones yet his credit. Well, he was so enchanting and so articulate and so amusing and interesting. I said oh there's somebody behind the camera same as you're saying right: the actors don't just get up and make this up Somebody's guiding somebody is really thinking about. Those are amazing moments where your mind gets blown that was it yeah. That was it for me, deepens it opened a door, so he lets go Go through your. I want to go through that some specific questions about what you ve written about, because you ve written about a lot of stuff. Let me tell you my emblematic story: I'm seventeen years old, I'm in my senior year of high school tina high school in matters right ma am but she my fancy, which we now get professionally. By a guy in the next town over, I don't have to run a mimeograph machine anymore,
and a woman who's, an english teacher in my school who I don't have for any classes but she's a nice lady stopped me in the hall one day she said. I really like what you're doing with your magazine, and I have a friend who's, an editor at cygnet books in new york, and I think the two of you would really hit it off here's his number. I want you to call your seventeen yeah. I watch it a column and go meet him after school one day. Okay, so I call him and we make an appoint year. One day I take the bus yeah into manhattan, and I bring a couple of copies of my magazine with me yeah and in my head of course, I'm ideas are: are gurgling yeah? Oh, maybe I'll get to write a book. Yeah I'll write a book humphrey. Bogart, goodness knows yeah. I get there he's very these were breaking the ice. Yet little meeting what you bring along so this is this magazine are published. She said, oh, I love your magazine said how,
nobody said well, I used to subscribe to it, which I didn't remember. I didn't put his name together at all. He'd been an indifferent publishing house, he said: do you know this book? That's out called movies on tv and there was a paperback end of the bargain him steven sure that was the only book of its kind, a paperback book with little capsule reviews right of thousands of movies, and I knew it backwards and forwards. I used it every day. He said you know that book. I said. I know it really. Well, he said you like it. I said I get as far as it goes, but he said what would you do different? I said. Well, I put in more cast names only list like to cast nay gear. Unless the director I put in I put in the running time of the local tv station is chopping up. I'd say what it's in color or black and white or rattled off all these things that I would do he said how'd you like to do it. So what do you mean so I've been looking for. Somebody do a rival book. I wanted to a competitive book to that. You want to do it.
I said yeah, I guess yeah. He hired me, seventeen to take on this? massive assignment of doing a book of capsule movie reviews and- and he said I'm going to give now. You know we're we're going to give you a lot of money. He said try to have some of it left over when you're done cause you're gonna have to hire people, it's going to cost, you money be careful and it was good advice and I ended up with some meander. The first thing I bought was an I b m, a used reconditioned, I b m selectric typewriter with a vowel, yeah right and and and so this book came out when I was eighteen years old, the first one yup. What was it It was then called terrible title tv movies, because the other could taken the only title for it, which was movies on tv rights, a time there was no home video. There was no premium cable if none of that stuff, but there were.
Movies during the day, every localization all day, long night, long over the late showed the later I showed early late nature. Yet so there were lots of people state, I'm just watch movies. All the time on tv. You have to go to turn a classic movies to see. you always were everywhere were the only movies. That's right. You turn the dial and that's all you saw. There are no infomercials. In the middle of the night, there were old movies, it was programming, yet not advertising reprogramming and so you didn't have to be an expert or an old movie buff to know who wc fields was right cause he just knew him. He was part of the landscape yeah, so I got to do this book and I hired people to help me cause. It took a lot of work. and came out and when it came out, all I saw were its flaws, imperfections yard coming sure of, but it did ok yeah. And five years later they called said. Maybe it's time to update it. Ok, I did a second one and four years later, the calls, maybe it's time to update it
ok in them than we did on every other year. Naturally in the eighties, went home. Video came along. He said. I think we need to do this every year and saw avenue in doing every year for thirty years. That's about the letter mountain movie guide but it but outside of that armenia that to me an important resource and you know it is limited to the length of these reviews. Yes, of course, we saw somebody would do like the real block, a real and cyclopedia book. This is just a fingertip guy used to have was an f where I am cats. Oh sure, every cats was was was good in film standards. Source everywhere used him, what's that other one that one there the whole day thompson, biographical dictionary that that difficult there but another widely admired resource any by yeah he's more along the critic
and he's he's running, critical essays unease and very opinionated and unabashedly opinionated. Yes, you know in assessing people's careers, and you don't do that. Well, I everything we do with it. What we're like the twitter of film? As you know, these very capsule form, but it seems to me that the Your love of the business remains intact. Yes, it does and after you, you know that you know what you're you're bringing to the world is. Not you know to to sort of you know, take it down a notch to assess it in a way that would challenge it. No, I'm not gunning for anybody. Anything particular except stupidity. I hate stupid movies, I hate insulting bullies and eight movies that are really of other movies right of doing something fresh and original. Well when I see something like wes anderson's, the grand budapest hotel. I said you know that that that that gives me happiness and joy and I don't get the feeling, often enough, but I think that's what he's in the business of doing he's he so meticulously.
This will cause. I'm not sometimes is meticulous turns me off. I was not a fan of moonrise kingdom, for instance right a little too precious for my taste, in an in san way. way he woke up a frame is pretty stunning. It's it's examples like he's a jewelry maker yeah, exactly exactly right, either We wish you work on the on the hurry on the story a little more than they had any intricate movements inside they the mechanism, in the larger books. You did I mean you and I haven't read a lot of them, but I am looking at the titles that you did. What was movie comedy teams. That was my first real book that wasn't just a collection of these many reviews. They, I had my foot in the door now at signet books, a new american library. This is what he you do. Next I submitted three ideas. I thought were commercial one I thought was just something I wanted to do that wasn't commercial and that's the one they bought, which is a book about comedy teams and
that time and it was about all the team yesterday we laurel and hardy and coming up to the stooges ebon Castelo, absurd, ones like wheeler and woolsey from the thirties clark and mccullough, who had been a big stage. Actor made some movies- ah, the three stooges, of course yeah the ritz brothers. Yet all of these acts- and I just had the best time- writing this book screening these movies doing the research. No one had ever compiled the list of everybody's films a year. You couldn't look up all the three stooges movie. You couldn't do it yeah. No one else had printed that I did haha now unknown hairs. Pierre turn out. You know you open your iphone and you got it yet, but it time. It was an achievement and the phenomenon of that book was that it was published again before the mall, the mauling of amerika and before the chain
stores came along and in those days books paperbacks were sold in most cities in the drugstore and the woolworths. That's where books were bought and sold, except in big cities where errors stores. So this book came at a cost, a dollar and a half to buy, and it was in spinner racks and in drugstores and in woolworths and places like that, and I have had more people to this day come up to me and say that's the first movie book I ever bought Well, because it was most guys you guys like happen, custom wherever thursdays interfering in those days, the first movie with nobody. That time. You were, you know, you're also functioning, as as important archivist while yellow there. The field. Was I gonna have the field to myself and in a way I wasn't there, I do. It seems to me that you, since the threat that, if you didn't put this information out in the world that it would be lost forever. Well off. I go there but nobody I mean. Did you say that like no one had ever?
You have written down the full list that when that wasn't, but that was excited that was excitement of yeah. That was what was so so invigorating about it. What did you learn about? Comedy teams? Are we wouldn't they all share well, the ones that have a lot of the ones it didn't. Socialize, offscreen lasted longer really Yes, where were they all oral unhardy? Let separate lives that they like each other fine, they lead? Separate lives are entirely different men who respected each other completely as performers. Why they worked together so harmoniously and oliver hearty was a consummate comedian. Ah well, was for him. It was a job. Job was over. He wanted to play golf yeah, that's what he cared about here. He liked to eat obviously like to play golf. and stand laura lived and breathed comedy when he wasn't marrying a lot of women, but he did also, but so that One thing aben costello!
we're wildly popular when they came on the scene when they came to movies in the early forties, sort of emblematic of what amerika was lookin for during world war, two they wanted brash comedy here. They were brash, ia and and funny I mean they're routines- are still funny whose on first as a funny funny routine the variations, they did our cut an hour's larry, luke there was a great gifted committee and he really was, but but they never really developed anything more than just surface characters, and so when there oh good past and they kind of lost their there. Their initial momentum was hard for them to sustain the careers, except by revisiting they're all routines, which they do on their tv show. I got caught outward. I lie with the with the niagara falls routine, which I didn't realize. What had been done by many points was out of burlesque yeah, a lot of their best routines were right out of burlesque and and that's what still? It was no crime and that, at that time are no more or less form of entertained by bite you
The idea that you know if you could bring yourself to a bit that that that was a standard. Yes, it was almost like- saw that's your landlord yeah. How are they gonna? Do it right? I watched you. I want you to do you and I watched my having castelo- do yeah any in any event, I guess a lot of people have done it. Why the mandate thou that sort of fascinated me that that there was no, I know it the question of like will who wrote the materials like well, how do we make it our own right? Then there was a tea also and Johnson very big onstage and made a handful of movies in the forties. They were often accused of stealing peoples We milton bird was sometimes have your these milton the thief: a bad gags you know and and and he would make jokes about cause- you date well. Well, I don't know. Apparently I dont know near see values to say about milton that, in a cutting contest. Known could beat him
while somebody was trying to think of something funny to say milton would remember five other things that he'd already said that were funny read and just spill them out. Yeah, you ever meet him. How many times here fascinating we were able to long time why fascinating because he was walking. History show business and he had a steel trap mine my uncle I had written a song with him in the thirties and ah one time my dad was out visiting and I used to do pledge breaks at k, c e t, R, public radio asian, and it was fun to do because you never know who beyond that night and one night he told me was gonna, be there, so my dad along my father said. You will remember this, but many. Many years ago my brother bernard wrote us What do we said? Bernie or yeah heard the name and fifty years of merely says Bernie yeah he was, he was amazing. He was amazing and funny too always funny here, always always funny haha.
What compelled you to write an entire book on nea and the little rascals Oh well. I grew up, as I say, watching them every single day live on channel officer, Joe Bolton and of the couldn't read a word about them anywhere got it. Every try to find a book this again long before the internet via couldn't find anything about them. I so what I've got? and about that, and I did- and I wrote a book called the great movie shorts and I did a chapter in that book about liberty, rascals in printed the first filmography of all of their films, as it did for a bunch of other people, then, and then I met a guy. Who knew more about them than I did? And I said It should pool our resources and do a book together and we did and has been in print for thirty five years, because people are still interested in them. What it got it didn't end well for a lot of them.
No, but that's that's! A kind of tabloid headlines knew just focus on one. It's not just I didn't folks on is not entirely true, for every one. You can tell me that ended badly, like alfalfa gonna, who who had a miserable home life- and you know is, is usually, if you don't have parents who who are who have their feet on the ground and treat you like a normal kid, ah you're, going to have a hard time yeah and that that was history and any wagga being shot over in a bar. You know that's a sad story, but ah, but buckwheat had a had a good life Spanky had some rough times and then a very good life, a good marriage, wonderful daughter who I met. Ah, you know that there that wasn't, Robert blake one of em, he was mia. He wasn't a later year and Jackie cooper to Jackie cooper, dickie moore who, who had a good career as a child, actor scotty, becquerel good career as a child actor
You just loved him. I couldn't get enough love and when my daughter was young and I started showing them to her, she loved them to their irresistible. So outside of the guides in outside of the Caps relations in the shorter reviews issues listen to me that you did movie movie teams, comedy came as you did. There the hour gang thing you are. He also did a book on Carole lombard, yeah as part of a serious, it was a paper back series and they were sort of slim books that were fairly perfunctory bio by. Oh film, career books, not a very easy series at net, was written by several different people out there. they print of about fifty different is what kind of a hired just I just the opposite: Kosovo's independence in planning, I needed the money, but of care, a lumber, and I had a good time watching oliver films in order to write a right this book, but then
history of animated cartoons and again no one had done it before, and so that was the part of the joy of it was not only getting through the research I met. I've been, I talked to walter, lance water last started and animation in the team in the tea is he he's is part of the creation of animated cartoons. I talked to so many. I worked in the silent filmy era. I talk to people who were worse worked along, walt disney in his earliest earliest days and what you learn from them about wealth is ah well this feeling who worked with him were later became. One of the mainstays of the warner brothers, cartoon yeah department had no was sentimentality about wealth at all, not at all in the early days he said because they all quit him at one point in very very early. Why? Because they were hard, they were their heart away by by a producer by a somewhat conniving producer, and they said they had no day they had no personal attachment or affection.
but really want what was a very ambitious guy here. He and his brother were trying to succeed, and then they they weren't getting rich on other people. At that point there weren't, three putting all the money back into the products right but they need the everybody to work like crazy, and some of them said you know well. This is what we want to do. People both empires aren't generally boring no and that any came from nothing he came from. You know I mean genteel. Poverty might say you know he was not dirt poor, but he you know he was a hard scrabble life that he had a secret was so now like a looking back on, see you consider the south, a film critic. You ve consists of a film reviewer helmets, film historian, who makes a living as a film critic and a film critic. But that's not. The sense like is the difference between a film reviewer and a film critic, whilst
me, a critic is somebody who can write a somewhat lengthy, thoughtful, provocative essay about a film or you still read those in magazines like the new yorker in the times, and you know end and the times publishes good writing about film, and both times work in l, a they both have good writer and a critic he uses. You know intellectual resources to to bring I think so and a whole and tries to hold films to a standard. You know an x. What is an accepted standard of of quality and takes the it takes the reader to task. Sometimes if, if, if, if they're falling down and supporting no sloppy crummy movies right. So that's where you do well, I do it. I do it on a once over lightly basis. I'm not I'm not a deep thinker, I'm the last person to claim that I'm a middle brow, critic
yeah, but I but I have my you know. I have my opinions in their formed from a lot of experience and I try to right from the heart and I post my reviews on my website every friday and hope somebody reads him something out of them. Why mean these sort of created? This sort of you and an cisco neber seem to create that that that particular area television here? The way the encapsulated review right? Well, the problem That is why I got hired by entertainment tonight. They said we want you to do a scale of one to ten rate. Every fell I said I hated. I hated doing that my book to and well when I started doing the movie guide. My editor said you gotta. Do a star rating system like four stars and you ve got black for that? No, never, not lack for that people would argue with ratings shore, but that's what my editor said. They would do. He said people like that kind of shorthand
that's montana, cisco neighbor had the thumbs up front exactly so and so and eighty ice to rate films one to ten and never enjoy doing it, but people stop me on the street and say you know I can tell from your review whether you gonna give it a six or seven or eight. I thought. Well, I guess it's a good thing. Sure is their paying attention. It means I'm communicating clearly, so I guess that's good. We friends with Aber I was friendly with him. Yes, they have never closer. You know we lived in different cities, we competitors did you ever have conversations We are conversation yeah, as I did more briefly with jean. I didn't get to know a gene as well. I got to know roger especially in later years.
the the problem. Is that so many people who knew roger and gene only knew them from the tv show? Ah and as some people only knew me from entertainment tonight, but now with the internet, where you have the opportunity to go back and read rogers reviews and he's posted his whole inventory online. You see what a wonderful writer he was yeah, just a tour. Terrific writer with a highly individual voice, yeah who managed to personalize film reviewing. Ah, he he he has all the attributes of a great critic, but but on top of that he integrates his life. His point of view, his experiences at a very the thing to do, but you know who's writing that review yeah. You know who that guy is who definitely had her point of view, yeah yeah and in in So where do you think you're? What what is the difference and because he was like a lot of people? Take jobs,
on television and on the internet, just to sort of you know, there's there's a hackneyed quality to a a kind of encapsulation of a film there's, a very big difference between someone who sits there and just goes this happened. This happened. I thought this was good and somebody who draws from from what you're calling experienced stuff it's very hard to sort out, but it seems like there's a lot of you know almost The meaningless voices out there about film. Well, you said that, and I am- and I won't. I won't strongly disagree. There used to be more meaningless voices, but there are fewer and fewer people who are putting critics on the air now very few. In fact, why is that cause people that, because we're in the age of youtube, everybody's, a critic, everybody's acrylic. You know, and I am one son of a rotten tomatoes. Rotten tomatoes is a fun idea that works, but I tail tilbury ground sourced right. Well, no half crowd source and have
critic source yeah cause, I don't go to any of them. I just listen to people I respect, but but the point is like every tem: every tomato represents a critic. If you, if you fire all the critics, there won't be any tomatoes left on tomatoes is an aggregate as an aggregate of critical review. Soaker but ill. Do you know it's a it say it's like saying, you're in the buggy with businesses, it doesn't have a bright future right now, because everybody is content to spout their own opinions. We ever approached by videos to to carry water. No, an amazingly when I came out here to work for E t. within a year we moved on to the paramount pictures lot. I was a movie critic, movie studio. I worked in the middle of a movie studio and no one ever try to bribe me or persuade me or strong arm he never ever I mean they could buy me a coat
kill him united, but no I never. I never had any any issues with that which I am very happy about a year. Okay, so I I want to talk about the when I read a lot of that that The high minded intellectual criticism when I was in college- I really didn't know you know who it was really for it seemed to be an academic exercise, young people who were who were word I don't even I imagine it might have inspired smartest in It- might have you'll give people a richer deeper under canning a film, but it was still it was still speculative and it was still sort of invented an it seemed to be an academic pursuit. By way what we were just talking about in terms of what is criticism for, I know well for something Oh it's just a consumer guy. Ok should I go, should not go right. That's all people want a lot of people want from so called film criticism, which is not really courteousness rough justice. It is superficial review and that that's fine. yeah, I did nothing wrong with that right, valid as far as a go
but I don't want to say to somebody: don't go to see this movie I'd rather say: look here's! What the move This is what I thought of it if you, if you like johnny, If you find an interesting as an actor, you should go and see this movie right. Don't let me stop you from seeing this movie rights, not my job right. Well, that I mean it. I think that's fair and Ivan when you say I guess, but you know if you here, that's a debit, make your own choice, yeah, exactly yeah, but let me make it make an informed choice. Sure make us march was make a choice on your own, and it does become a financial choice at this point and unfortunately, as you know, the other thing I've always known- and I'm going to ask you- is this story, and, as I have this idea in my head, that unlike the the ark types of Media delle arti that that film as certain roles to fill that have been there since the beginning of film is. Do you see
it's possible that there is a certain type of movie star that that fills the james dean hold that fails to carry grant whole. They feel that their these you have these these types of leading men, these types of character act as these types of leading women that sort of repeat themselves throughout the history of them. Here that's true to the very real degree. I mean we, the world scene, always want an action star. Ah you now and then, and still on and schwarzenegger are still trying to do it right, because people will still pay money to see them, but where does it go back to douglas fair banks? Yeah, it does right you're. and then, when you were, he really was the first action star and he did most of his own stance to boot and then, when you go back to the clown you you have a ride away of different types of clowns, interaction of world actually and then, when you have like you know that this sex pie you go back to
valentino or some sort of version of that right or that sex pot is used for women, but clara bow is a very sexy woman, well, yeah and and and then there's also the you know, the the the women with sort of a brass and and and you have different, but it just seems to me that that they're there I always sort of moving around a very familiar configuration. That's that's existed throughout the history of cinema right just as people primarily still go to the movies for escape. It's always been the case, it's still the case and, of course, the the problem that hollywood's having now is that fewer and fewer people seem to be going to the movies. Something other than escape, and it's hard to sell them a serious movie or serious minded movie. which is why so many people are being so many writers and directors and performers are being drawn to cable tv, b where they can do some serious work, whether some great stuff goin on exactly and and and there are stealing movies thunder was movies, have allowed them to steal their thunder one.
turned to the andy films and the foreign language films and even the documentaries, yet stimulating entertainment and in a theater, provocative, yeah yup. Now in each era, is it young curious about how this evolves him with somebody like yourself, yahoo has had his passionate move for movies, going back to the beginning of movies. In the end you dedicated to you know the first part of your life towards the on keeping the spirit movies alive. You know you were, are the movies from each era for you that that never that never stop giving our guy while my all time, favorite movie is casablanca. Why which never it's up? It's a perfect hollywood movie. Ok, perfect great story telling that embraces suspense top quality, romance
humor and and drama. I mean all the ingredients in this one film seamlessly woven together politics to a certain degree, very much politics and, as an a point of view, global policy area has a point of view and and made by a master craftsmen. Michael courteous from a great screenplay and every part in that film is perfectly cast not just the delete actors. We know our great and when the supply actors like sidney, green straighten people are, as we know, we know our great in, but every face, personally, as just a line a bit in that film is a colorful face, an interesting free It helped me read it. You have to roll the armor around yeah. I just you know it's it's a wonderful film and I never do tire of it. I always see something I didn't notice before. Okay, so let's go up twenty years
I like my rights, let's take it to the well immediately again when you, when you get to that what they now call the silver age. You know the late sixties into the early: remedies and when I remember seeing body and clyde when it was new, just you know knock knock you off your feet. Why? Because not like it, because you'd never seen that the romance and the violence and the anti hero. Yes, all in one thing and one thing and told with such dynamism, uh huh I mean you know it was. It was a really. It was a. I think, it's not unfair, to say revolutionary movie, you sure and the same year. The graduate skinner revel generic here revolutionary american fell, and so those films had a deep impact on me. And then you know, then you move into the seventies where we talk about all men and Coppola, lucas and michael richie, and I have asked me how ashby lay I learnt the landlords, a film, I'm crazy. I don't know that law. That was how Ashley's first film is a direct cause. I love the last
two, while great film, I so many great films that period and again I was lucky. I got to hear some of them speak in person. You know when they were you no doubt promoting their films got to interview. Some of them are your pack and PA guy. Ah yeah, I am a peckinpah guy, I'm not a pekin PA, I'm not a rabid. peck and puffing, whose rough five there that they love. You know you look at the wild bunch, while psych wow was right, of western john ford is just about my favorite director and and end, but I loved the wild the wild launches, great and and straw dogs, and get away as you already pull at bringing headed off right oversee is one the most did. A weird is fuckin movie. It would have been jar movie the thicket he's talking to that head in the car, while he was a wild guy woody allen.
love, woody allen, crimes and misdemeanors. I think he's one of the greatest movies ever while you know I I again, I have to explain to people that I remember woody Allen as a stand up comic. You saw him, that's what I am not in person, unfortunately, but I saw him he did a lot of tv A lot of tv appearances guest shots. He was on. What's my line as a panelist, you know there are all sorts of television that was. I thought that that documentary about him was very revealing yeah. He sounds like a friend of mine bob. Why? But just in terms of just how calculating he is, how ambitious he is, how much of his shit he has together and that how contrary to the in a lot of ways, character, character, woody allen. He, and by the way, you know John treacherous film, fading gigolo, with apart tailor made for woody allen, which he helped shape with torture, and he gives the most sublime comedy performance in it. Fading gigolo, with a really good movie, and it's return is great in it too. He wrote it for himself and tailored this. Four woody allen, when I did what he did it and end of grey,
story behind at how they have the same barber datura said was barbara. Would you be willing to mention woody allen that I'm thinking of putting him in a movie? Would he be interested? and he did our to area and that's how they got to give us more a hollywood steroid than a new york story, but it happened in new york and it's a it he so good in it. He's just so good at I've always loved him as a committed perform. so even though a couple of his most recent films, where you ve been on camera, the films maybe haven't been great. I just Have him spouting one liners? He still got it sure he still got it hundred percent. Here and what do you like? The new batch of directors? Did you, what did you think spike jonze his movie via the? I was not crazy about her. I like a lot of spike Jonze adaptation. I think it's, a brilliant he's got a hell of a feel for a camera man. Yes, he does
I guess you re, like I've, never seen anything like I'm, not even where the wild things are not a car accident adaptation. I'll, never forget that scene heinz. I lee. I don't know how I think about that. Seen a little too often some backing out of the way things are those I think people miss and yet really in art, film. It is an art familiar and not again a flawed movie, be with some wonderful, beautiful, heartfelt stuff in in David, a rustle like a lotta. His stuff, too, is another one where the hell didn't like the new one, so much of which one american hustle I didn't I didn't either I thought was of a flat. I wasn't sure what are you a lot of? It was like seeing a band with lotta great soloists. What seemed in what way on saw what he was trying to do is create one that there was a period in the seventies where they did comedies, that you know we were like greedy if you look at movies, like freebie in the bean earth stuff like that where people are actually getting
well, the in comedy yeah. It seemed like that was sort of the tony was playing with, but there didn't seem to be anything really at stake: silver linings, playbook, James wander and and the fighter to fighter to that, That absolutely that I, like I like his early, work. I like spanking, the monkey rate. Three kings is a master three kings. You know really goods to unbelievable paul famous anderson at times Abbott mine, blowing, we brilliant yeah. Absolutely I mean you know bookie nights, one of the great american films I brought up. perfection. Yeah, you know a great great fell and da. I didn't love everything about the master, but boy. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen right. You know the idea and saw me again, even even if a film may not be. You know, hundred percent perfect if it holds me in grabs, and shows me things I haven't seen before, get yeah, I'm there something some
was the man you to reckon with them. Even if you don't get it yeah like the column there's emmi like those guys, you seem to be doing their own thing and I think that the obviously in their day they are hidden hit. Mrs well, but I have not seen a more consistent cinematic vision and in a long time, no no absolutely and yet and yet others what was funny as I like every out leeuwen Davis except the movie. I mean I loved love the look at the movie, the feel of the movie, the casting of the performance in the movie. Oscar isaac was just extraordinary, and there there they they love faces. You know they cast their their bit parts soak the nut since Fellini, I think yeah, but if somebody's assets that we're that kind of fondness for oddball faces- and they put them all in just the right parts, but the film just didn't do it for me, I admired it. You know I can admire it without liking. I felt a little full
I couldn't tell if it was intentional or not, because some of their movies require a few viewings yeah, and it seemed to me that it was sort of like a a very sort of brief kind of picturesque journey through yoga changing of of of music that, like there, there seemed to be the the the John goodman character like when they're when the cohens are so sparse, and you know when something feels flat so but yet so utterly intentional. You know I have to read into it and it seemed to me that you know that there is not a poor and a frame in their film that I try and channel yeah. So it just seemed to me that you know what was being driven there. You know he was being driven across country by really the death of of of bebop and beatnik america. Yeah that you know I I kept trying to read stuff into it. Yeah yeah very perceptive of you, and I and I think that, there there there movies required yeah. What about who is I just gonna bring up?
Alexander pain, love, yeah, I got it. I didn't go to her and he he's a humanist. I mean he's a satirist and a humanist. That's a rare combination. That really is a rare common. It's a tricky business and some people have criticized him for being too harsh on the people. He supposedly celebrates that he he ridicules them. The ridicule is very mid westerners. He supposedly venerate, but that's what makes him so interesting and does citizen kane loom large with you? Yes, it does it kind of has to where it does not cause it has to cause. It does cause it does, and when I was a kid I was too young, I didn't like those kids, I lectured I didn't get it either. It took me time. You know you you you you you, you can't absorb things when you're twelve years of welfare for landing in. I think it's also one is movies at that continues to reveal itself as you get older and again and again, that's true and an you relate to your it from your own life experience in different ways and
That's the real sign of a masterpiece is europe, which is something that grows with you. Yeah exactly and as you revisit it, you you, you do you seek deeper wisdom, precisely cell and their off out too few films are too. That did you see the italian from the great beauty which I was the author of this year. A really moving film is kind of like a ah a modern day up data, la dolce veto, ah ah by power, santino, really moving film that works on several levels and and hard to describe, actually it is. It will be, but very beguiling you liked it yeah very much. Are we provide use all day yeah? Why tell you? Man was great talking to you same here same here and I think we've covered a lot you why hope. So. It. Yes, I do thank you for giving me the book. and thank you for your inside appreciate
see that was interesting I, like Leonard mom beer, nice jack, you have about in the Ivan entire library blunder malden materially Well, that's our show. Votes go to devotee of powder, comparable you're deputy ipod needs the comments. Action is laid out no more. I thought about it. I waded out, it wasn't a community, it was barely use I'm going to. take away. The platform for the ten trawls and the five douche bag seven people that enjoy the show. I'm sorry, too you people is gone. it is no use the facebook, the reason That is because you can't be anonymous on that new policies but anyways. What am I doing why my using that town at the end of the show, what do under the showed tat go deputy up that com, which I just get the app. If you knew the show, get the free up upgrade, you can dream all five hundred and twelve
team? Our many episode gets a march. You can check I counter see where I'm going gets. Some just coffee get so tired of my ears, but can I just let myself feel good? Can I just let myself is that what's happening former lives,
Transcript generated on 2023-02-12.