Tuesday, January 26, 2010


These are a few shots taken last week between rain storms down at Venice Beach.
photos copyright Ray Ramos Photography


Some images from this years PHOTO LA @ The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
Photos copyright Ray Ramos Photography


Friday, January 22, 2010


Wow, Ray. Great blog on the film (SALVADOR: 01/13/2010.) It really was all that and more and something that I am awed by. I was so blessed to be a part of it and it changed my life forever. Thank for your interest. CG

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I think NBC is on acid? Because they are really trippin' hard! Sure we all know about the late night wars with Jay Leno & Conan O'Brien. With Leno out of his weekly 10 PM slot, the need for the peacock to fill that time void with some new content is at defcon 5.  Now, I just heard that they intend to fill an hour of it with a new version of (can you believe this?) ... THE ROCKFORD FILES!!?? One thing I can say is, "ARE YOU GUYS NUTS?" You can't do the Rockford Files without the legendary JAMES GARNER (not to mention writers, Roy Huggins & Stephen J. Cannell!) Didn't you guys waste loads of money trying to bring back THE BIONIC WOMAN & NIGHTRIDER??? I hear the guy who created HOUSE is gonna be the showrunner on this bad, bad idea! Look, they tried to remake, THE NIGHT STALKER & THE FUGITIVE, without Darren McGavin & David Janssen and guess what?  Just admit it, you guys need to remake yourselves..."Hey, I'm just sayin?"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Police work can make even a good cop an alcoholic, at least in these two good movie gems: THE BLACK MARBLE and 8 MILLION WAYS TO DIE. Both movies based on bestsellers by Joseph Wambaugh and Lawrence Block

1980's The Black Marble, (a term used by a suspect, as someone with no luck) is a Wambaugh's version of a love story... a cop love story. Robert Foxworth plays Sgt. A.M. Valnikov, the most Russian cop you'll ever meet on the Hollywood beat; he sings, he dances and he also has a serious "potato juice" drinking problem... if you know what I mean? This cop would make Foster Brooks look like a Mormon (what... dated reference?) Paula Prentiss (I've dug her since WHERE THE BOYS ARE? What another dated reference?) plays Sgt. Natalie Zimmerman  his new no nonsense (& against her wishes) partner, both are divorced and unknowingly longing for a little love. Then there's perhaps the greatest piece of work in The Black Marble... Harry Dean Stanton.  Stanton plays, Philo Skinner a dog groomer who's into his bookie for some serious money, desperate he masterminds (and I use that word "mastermind" very loosely) a dog napping of a popular show dog to get him out of his jam. Stumbling on to this quirky case, it gives Foxworth a chance to put aside some of his demons (along with the possible chance for love with his new partner.)  Prentiss (always great) doesn't disappoint as her tough, icy exterior slowly melts away as she reluctantly gives her heart away to her down on his luck partner. She finds that his drinking is due to memories of a series of torcher murders involving children and the death of his ex-partner. Both are great in this picture and they really bring Wambaugh's characters to life, but as great as they are (and they are) it's the Harry Dean Stanton show, no one plays a desperate character like Harry Dean. The finale between Stanton and Foxworth, in a dog kennel is like no other... it's both hilarious and pathetic. It's a chase scene that's a long way from say; Bullet or Dirty Harry. Directed by Harold Becker who also helmed Wambaugh's more somber piece, THE ONION FIELD, does another great job here, making great use of Hollywood circa 1980. Also look for James Woods in a funny cameo as a street violinist (making this his third Wambaugh film adaptation; The Choir Boys & The Onion Field.)

Los Angeles goes "Miami Vice style" in 8 WAYS TO DIE, is based on the Lawrence Block novel, featuring his popular print, private eye character Matt Scudder. Jeff Bridges gives yet another slam bam performance, as the former sheriff's detective, who's loses his badge (& his family) due to his hard drinking ways. After Bridges hits bottom after a bad drug bust, that forces him to fatally use his weapon on a suspect at the family dinner table, he joins AA. Now sober (one day at a time), he  moonlights as unlicensed a private eye, Bridges suddenly finds himself working for Sunny, a beautiful hooker (the leggy, Alexandra Paul) who's desperate to get out of the business, unfortunately for her, Bridges lets her out of his sight and she soon winds up leaving the business the hard way; dead. Bridges now wrecked with guilt, goes on a black out bender and wakes up in the hospital, barley able to talk or walk. Having failed his client, he knows that he has to get back on the wagon to solve her murder. Bridges, soon finds himself playing a deadly game of chess, with a slick, snow cone loving drug dealer Angel Molonado (in a scene stealing performance by then newcomer Andy Garcia.) Caught in the middle of this 80's noir, is 80's sex symbol Rosanna Arquette, playing another hooker, she's a real tough cookie (or as Bridges calls her "the Pete Rose of the house", because she's what he calls a "player manager.") Bridges and Garcia use Arquette as a ping pong ball that bounces between the two as they try to out smart each other, with her in the middle. The films climax features an intense shootout (reminiscent of the final scene in Howard Hawk's western, RIO BRAVO.) The script was co-written by none other than Oliver Stone and is surprisingly the last film directed (with great zest) by the late, Hal Ashby (who's credits include such 70's classics: Shampoo, Being There, The Last Detail, Bound for Glory, Coming Home and Harold & Maude.) Oddly this great LA crime drama is not yet released on DVD.

Both The Black Marble and 8 Million Ways to Die, feature great Los Angeles film locations that really give you a feel for the city and the times that they were shot.  But after watching these heavy drinking heroes, you might want to have some asprin handy!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Veteran director Gordon Douglas helmed this gritty, two fisted 1964 Twentieth Century Fox western, starring one hell of a great cast; Richard Boone, Stuart Whitman, Tony Franciosa, Jim Brown and Edmond O'Brien. Boone portrays Lassiter, a former Confederate officer who's now settled in Texas. He's a man who hatred for the Indians, might only be rivaled by John Wayne's Ethan Edwards in John Ford's The Searchers. Boone's family was massacred by the Indians and now he spends his days and nights hunting them for revenge. Boone's renegade activities do not go unnoticed by the local military authorities and he's brought in against his will to the local fort. But it turns out that the army wants to recruit him (against his will) to help them find a shipment new rifles that have been hijacked and are now feared on there way to the Indians. The army it turns out suspects that Boone's former commanding officer (O'Brien) may be the culprit in the crime. The bitter loner, Boone is forced to team up with two soldiers; the bourbon voiced Stuart Whitman and the brawny, Jim Brown (the former football star in a great motion picture debut) on the dangerous mission to retrieve the rifles and take down the gunrunners if possible or die trying. Tony Franciosa steals the movie as Martinez, the most double crossing bandito this side of Eli Wallach (and the best man with a knife since Jimmy Coburn in The Magnificent Seven.) An old acquaintance of Boone's, that he runs into while locked up in the brig. Boone saves Franciosa neck from the hangman's noose, by insisting that  come on the mission or it's a deal breaker. With a plot that was a mix of John Wayne's The Comancheros & Robert Aldrich's The Dirty Dozen (that it predates, also featuring Jim Brown) this western really packs a punch. Boone was an actor who's rugged presences was so large that he didn't need a gun, as they say to be tough... he just was.
A macho cult classic, RIO CONCHOS was probibly the most action packed violent western of it's time (and featuring a great rousing score by Jerry Goldsmith.) Sadly it only avalible on VHS, but it occasionally airs on The Fox Movie Channel. Like those missing rifles, it's worth going on the mission to find it.


If you only watch one James Woods movie IN YOUR LIFE!... make it Oliver Stone's 1986 epic guerrilla style masterpiece SALVADOR. This gonzo adventure follows a of burnt out photojournalist, Richard Boyle (Woods) and his out of work DJ pal Doc Rock (Jim Belushi, who's never had a part like this again) as they drive the sorriest-looking Mustang convertible ever seen on film down to the killing fields of El Salvador. Woods gives a tour de force performance (as well as being Oscar nominated) as a man who's lost everything in his life, and who's last chance for redemption seems to be only to be found in El Salvador. This film was only Stone's second directing effort, and he gave it everything he had. You feel as if this "crazy bastard" just plooped his actors right into the middle of the real revolution (and I think some of his actors felt that way too?)  This film also featues great supporting performances by John Savage as a samurai war photographer, who'll do anything to "get the shot" and ends up paying the ultimate price for it and the lovely, Cynthia Gibb as an American nun, who's all too sweet & fearless for her own good. Based on actual historical events (including the political assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero) and loosely based on real-life photojournalist, Richard Boyle exploits (the real Boyle, co-wrote the script with Stone) this film makes no bones of who the bad guys are and history tells us now, that it looks like they were right. The DVD features a great documentary on the film and its turbulence on the set; from Stone scraping everything he had to get the picture made, to the love hate relationship between the director and his star Woods. And even more was interesting was Woods real life animosity for the man that he was portraying in the film. A whole generation has come and gone since the bloody events in this film have happened (approximately 75,000 El Salvadorians were killed between 1980 and1992.) Damn, it just goes to show you, that so many things in the world, never ever change. If you get the chance, do yourself a favor and see SALVADOR, it'll stay with you longer than anything in 3-D.

Monday, January 11, 2010


I had been wanting to get a copy of a great 1995 British documentary called; A Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies. I remember a special screening at the Director's Guild in Hollywood when I was working there back in the 90's. I had wanted to see it agian, so I  found a vhs copy of it online, for a song (fyi it's available in DVD format also.)  As you might know, "Maestro Marty" is a serious film historian, in fact he's a short walking encyclopedia of cinema with bushy eyebrows. Watching this documenty, that runs over three hours (if he wasn't such a fast talker, it might have been four hours?) makes you feel like you're sitting in a private screening room with the award winning director, as he gives a broad overview of his reflections of the cinema from the silents to the 60's. Scorsese, talks of his love of westerns and film noir. He speaks in awe of the old masters like; John Ford, King Vidor, Howard Hawks, C.B. Demille to name just a few. He thoughtfully reflects on forgotten workhorse directors, who were possibly his greatest influences; Tay Garnett, Andre de Toth, Bob Aldrich and Anthony Mann. So yeah, if you love the art of film, you could take a cinema class at your local city college or you can get a copy of this documentary. You can just sit there with your popcorn  and the master, and watch and listen.


Hey sports fan, drop that hot wing!! I know that we're in the midst of the NFL playoffs, but right now you can see some of the most unforgettable sports images ever shot at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City (runs now until March 14th.) The Space, as it's becoming known, has put together the first two man show, featuring legendary sports photography titans; Neil Leifer & Walter Iooss. As teenagers in New York City, Leifer and Iooss incredibly used their neophyte camera talents (and a little luck) to hustled their way into working for a little magazine called, Sports Illustrated. Between the two, they have chronicled the greatest sporting events of the past 50 years; the World Series, Super Bowls, Olympics, Rumbles in the Jungles. You'll see images such as Leifer's iconic image of Muhammad Ali taunting his victory over fallen giant, Sonny Liston or Michael Jordan like a raptor, seamlessly flying through the air during the 1998 NBA slam dunk contest. You'll see all the greats here; Namath, Montana, Koufax, Berra, Foreman, Frazier, Magic, Bird, Palmer ... and yes, even Woods. This exhibit is a once in a lifetime event, try to see it if you can, you'll thank... well, me!... I'm the cat giving ya the heads up! In addition to the standard print gallery, the Space also features a digital theater as it's center piece, this enables the exhibit to show you a vast amount of images from the artists, via a slide show format (not to mention a 20 minute documentary on the two, that features sports greats, Joe Montana & Jackie Joyner Kersee.) So, if you're a sports fan or just a fan of photography, this exhibit of these two masters will  show you the best of the drama of the human spirit ... in a split second... in a single frame. 
The Annenberg Space for Photography
2000 Avenue of the Stars, Century City
Phone - 213- 403-3000
Wed. - Sun. 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Admission - FREE
Parking with validation

Friday, January 8, 2010


Today, January 8th, marks the 75th birthday of "The King."  And I don't mean some silly character over in Europe wearing fuzzy slippers either, I'm talkin' about this country's "King of Rock n Roll" ... I'm talkin' ELVIS! Yeah, I know he's been taking the big sleep at Graceland for 32 years. And a whole generation (or two?) have landed since the days when he walked the earth in a rhinestone jumpsuit, giving away Cadillacs to complete strangers, but all that being said, he's still ELVIS, and I remember him well. Many rock & rap stars have come and gone tryin' to be as cool as the original "The Hillbilly Cat," to this day no one has been able to knock off his crown.
Not many folks know that Elvis was very interested in the afterlife and reincarnation,  maybe he's even returned to the planet getting ready for his next big comeback? All I can say is happy birthday pal, and TCB, with a lightning bolt, wherever you are?


I've found the greatest thing since sliced bread; and it's doughy Steven Seagal ... Lawman! Seagal, the big, wooden action martial arts star of the 80's & 90's, has come back in a big, big fat way; he's a reality star! Whoever green lit this over at A&E TV is a genius! I've never really been a fan of Seagal's (maybe because he was lucky enough to marry Kelly Lebrock of the 80's WEIRD SCIENCE movie?) and I think reality TV is just another sign of the apocalypse... but together, it's just PURE MAGIC!

Like they say in Louisiana, "we do things are own way down here"...  like making Seagal a chief deputy sheriff (or something like that?) Legend (or A&E's press release) has it, "the big man" has been leading a double life as a lawman for the past 20 years, when he wasn't making direct to dvd movies (boy, the press can really keep a secret down south, can't they?) Seagal with a crack squad of gumbo filled po-licemen, cruise Jefferson Parish (Nawlins' adjacent) in unmarked dark suv's looking for bad folks, doin' bad things!

Seagal has never been this entertaining in any of his movies, as he is playing, some kinda southern version of himself... this is a gig that Elvis (HAPPY BIRTHDAY KING!) would have given all his honorary badges for! Yes, it's just the TV show COPS with Steven Seagal, but it's really sooooo much more! How surreal would it be, to be a "crackhead" being busted by your pre-crackhead boyhood action man hero; Steven Seagal? I'm just waiting for the episode where he starts quoting Strother Martin, "What we have here, is faliure to communicate!"

I especially love it when Seagal has to take his 250 pounds out of the car to chase a suspect, not since William Conrad played TV detective CANNON back in the 70's has this kinda crime watching been sooooo much fun (not that I'm sayin' Conrad was a real crime fighter, like Seagal mind you.) You think Seagal's kidding around about bein' a lawman? Man, he cut off his famous samurai ponytail... that's how you know!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


If you would have told me back in the early 90's, when I was working press junkets for ABC and the show ROSEANNE, that George Clooney (a supporting player on the sitcom) was gonna make the jump to major movie star, I would of cocked my head like the RCA Victor dog. Well, that's how the world turned (thank you, Michael Crichton & ER), the actor famous for having a big head (literally) and living the swinging bachelor life has turned out a seamless performance in the new movie, UP IN THE AIR. Playing Ryan Bingham, a man with nothing tying him down (not even a pot bellied pig), he flies across the country firing people for spineless office managers. Not that this gives him any great pleasure, what he really digs is the perks that all his frequent flyer miles gives him, in fact his great goal in life is to be the seventh person who's ever flown ten million miles (and the special engraved credit card that comes with the honor!) Everything seems to being going smooth, until two things knock him off his course. The first being a sexy kindred spirit in travel, Alex. Played by the delectable Verma Farmiga (there's a great hotel room scene, where either Farmiga or her body double is just wearing a neck tie...) and also coming into his life is Anna, played by Natalie Keener, she's a young go-getter who's found a great way to save the company lotsa money, unfortunately it's gonna get in the way of Clooney's/Bingham's grand ten million mile goal. If you love airport terminals and hotel bars, this is the movie for you! This film also boasts an appearance by the great, SAM ELLIOTT (is he in Avatar too?) Directed and co-written by Jason Reitman, it should get many nominations come Oscar time. Even though Clooney is now a rich movie star whom, I think now has a summer palace in North Korea? I hear he likes to party with fellow ladies man, President Kim Jong Il...(anothor fellow with a large head.) GC still has the acting chops to play a charming (if not shallow) bachelor and make you really get into his character (I can only wonder what Roger Moore or David Janssen could have done with this role? This time traveling casting thought will cloud my mind for weeks now!) I actually like George Clooney (maybe for the reason that we're the same age?), in fact, I wish now, that I would have grabbed on to his coattails at ABC, maybe I'd be doing the conga line with him and Kim Jong, right now?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


A mysterious gunslinger is out to gun down New York city slickers, the Morgans (Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant) And he'll ride into Hell to do it! Now it's up to a rugged Marshal (Sam Elliott) and his sharpshooter wife (Mary Steenburgen) to protect them. This western drama plays against the backdrop of a town tough as DEADWOOD named (are you ready for this?).... RAY! There's plenty of ridin' & shootin' and even a little lovin' ta boot in this one! Hugh Grant's tenderfoot character is even attacked by a grizzly... Wilfred Brimley (and a bear too!) Okay, it's not TOMBSTONE... this is actually a new romantic comedy about a recently separated married couple, that's forced to relocate into the witness relocation program after they witness a murder. It's a cute, silly little movie to see with your gal on date night. HEY, IT'S GOT SAM ELLIOTT!

Monday, January 4, 2010


It's 2010! What does that mean? Ain't that a Roy Scheider movie? For a guy who was born at a time when men still wore fedoras, it's pretty strange. I can't believe it's been ten years since the year 2000! Y2k was a washout thank goodness, but a lotta bad shit did go down in those past ten years... Billy Joel could write another WE DIDN'T START THE FIRE song about them!
Most of us have been lucky enough to somehow make it to 2010 ( sadly a few did not.) I was once told "I was a man of the past and the present", I guess that's right. The future is "scary" and it only makes me "older" ... not crazy about that either.
But, I was fortunate enough to ring in New Years Eve with some dear friends (I'm the cat in the Stewart Granger safari jacket) and even lucky enough to kiss a beautiful woman at midnight... what could be better than that? So 2010, I say; if you can't get out of it... get into it! I wish us all well, Robert De Niro had a great line in the movie, BRAZIL ( he played a swashbuckling plumber) "we're all in this together." Amen to that brother Bob.