Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Michael Connelly & Robert Crais

As part of The City of Santa Monica’s Noirfest, I’m sure the highlight has to be last Saturday night’s conversation with bestselling LA crime novelists, Michael Connelly and Robert Crais, whose literary detective heroes, Harry Bosch and Elvis Cole (don’t worry, I didn’t forget Crais' Joe Pike) have continued to travel the mean streets and dark back alleys of The City of Angels, the way Raymond Chandler’s legendary Phillip Marlowe once had… there's still crime and murder in the city, just a couple newer guys getting the job done.

Michael Connelly
 I love writers and noir, so I couldn’t pass up the chance to see these to modern masters of the genre square off (well more like chat.)  Connelly seems to be the more stoic of the two. As Crais, was always good with a quick one liner… I could defiantly see the personalities of the writer’s fictional detectives showing their cards in their hour (plus) talk that night. As you'd expect, both Connelly and Crais spoke with great fondness of Raymond Chandler (whom they were both there to talk about.) Connelly spoke of how as a youth he had really no interest in old books (from the 40's & 50's.) But he loved the modern cop novels of former LAPD cop, Joseph Wambaugh. It wasn’t until college when Connelly happened to catch the film version of Robert Altman’s 70’s film version Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, which made him a fan of P.I. Phillip Marlowe. It was his life changing moment, Connelly soon found himself not going to his classes, but staying up all night reading the entire Chandler’s catalog of novels (eight by the way.)  Connelly soon changed his college major, with visions of becoming a writer someday. 

Chandler also had a strong grip on Crais, whose world was changed not in some many words when he read a paperback copy of Chandler’s Marlowe novel, Little Sister. Both men, cited chapter thirteen in that book as a source of inspiration for them as writers. The chapter’s core has Marlowe trying to find solace driving around the city which he both loves and loathes. Crais treated the crowd to a reading of some of the chapter, which he said he usually reads before starting his latest book. After Crais finished he exclaimed “That dude can write!” To which Connelly not missing a beat added; “It helps when you use the Joe Pike voice.”  Connelly even though seeming the more quite of the two, got some pretty good playful jabs at his pal,Crais. When Crais was trying to explain the nights homage to Chandler… he was looking for the right words to crystallize his thoughts; “I don’t know what you call it?” Then Connelly zinged him with “a homage to Bob Crais?” You could tell that these guys really respect and like each other.

These guys are quick with a one liner.
It was fun to hear two typewriter titans discuss the master Raymond Chandler. Crais said that Chandler had a problem with plots. But he also said how Chandler thought that a good scene in a novel, trumps the overall plot. And that the perfect mystery novel is one that you’d read even if there was no ending.

When they opened up the full house at Lincoln Middle School to questions, one of the funniest moments came when a film location scout asked Crais, how does he come up with all the great LA locations for his Elvis Cole novels? Without missing a beat Crais jokingly told her, “It’s called an automobile. I’m the guy who’s driving around at 3 o’clock in the morning.”

Robert Crais & socks
Someone in the audience asked about the next generation of mystery writers, and who will take over for them? Crais cracked, “God no, it stops with Michael and me.” Crais was decked out in all black with the exception of his colorful sock and shoes. It instigated one fan to ask where Crais got his socks? To which the affable author replied, “I sell them out of the trunk of my car. You didn’t think I make living selling books?” You gotta love the guy. I met Crais at a signing for his book The Sentry, which had most of its action set in my town of Venice, Ca, and I found him to be a heck of a likable fella. Crais started out writing TV scripts back in the 70’s & 80’s for such fare as Barreta and Hill Street Blues. Connelly on the other hand learned his craft as a journalist. He had a long stint on the crime beat for The Los Angeles Times. When someone asked the authors which book was their favorite? Connelly said, “The Last Coyote, because it was his first book published as a full time writer.” 

The 3 C's: Connelly, Chandler & Crais
The Packed Auditorium at Lincoln Middle School in Santa Monica

Another interesting (if not funny) question was, how interesting how Marlowe, Bosch and Pike lived in basically in the same Hollywood Hills neighborhood. By coincidence, both Connelly and Crais perched their heroes there to muse over the city that they both try and protect. It got a laugh when another fan asked how come Harry Bosch’s place got red tagged in the Northridge Earthquake and Elvis’s Cole’s didn’t? 

Rober Crais
Crais said “I’m from the flatlands of Louisiana, when I moved here, I fell in love with the hills.” He said, he was inspired to have his detective live in a place that he would have liked to have if he had the money (which, I’m sure is very possible now?) Connelly, said that he was inspired to put his character Harry Bosch at 8743 Woodrow Wilson drive after working on a murder story for The Times, that happened right in front famed artist David Hockney’s house… Connelly again got a laugh when he assured the crowd, that Hockney had nothing to do with it (the murder.)

Michael Connelly

Robert Crais & Michael Connelly sign books & take photos with their fans.

These two writers have such a following, one guy drove all the way from Arizona with a stack of books (even though it said a two book limit) for this summitt which were happily signed. Michael Connelly’s current Harry Bosch novel is called The Drop. Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole book is called, Taken. I haven’t gotten to them yet, but I’m sure it would make Chandler and Marlowe happy, these guys are out there getting the job done the way they used too.

I didn't read what Michael Connelly inscribed until I got home, I was quite surprised to see that he's signed it from "Harry Bosch and Michael Connelly.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

13 Going On 30 - Michael Jackson Thriller Dance

Tramp - He's A Tramp

Lady & the Tramp - The Kiss Scene

Jack Nicholson - La Vie En Rose (Something's Gotta Give)

Breakfast at Tiffany's (Final Scene)

Gone with the wind - the end

Casablanca Final

Casino Royale 1967 Dusty Springfield The Look of Love.

Dean Martin - Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes

Dean Martin - C'est Si Bon, Si Bon

Monday, February 13, 2012


Clara Rule had Jake Redskon in her rifles sights. He was on horseback, riding slowly toward her small cabin. As he silently made his way, she thought back to the time when he first rode into her life. He had charmed her with his kindness, it was just what a prairie widow had needed, and a man… she thought like him. Jake surprised her one morning when she opened her cabin door, he was sitting there on his horse. A horse that he sometimes, called Pegasus, and other times he called brother. Then other times, he would  refer to the horse as; my brother Pegasus. That morning Jake, smiled and tipped his hat and asked for a cup of coffee. That’s how it all started with him. The next thing Jake Redskon was chopping her wood, and then giving Clara kind words that soothed her heart. Then one day a kiss, he pulled her tight and Clara thought she felt devil’s pitchfork itself poking out at her. She couldn’t help what came next and then all those other things that her would do to her; the things she began to enjoy. Sometimes they would even do these things outside of the cabin, and in the bright sunshine… with Jake, Clara had no shame in her desires, and she loved him. She gathered by his colt revolver that he hid in his leather saddlebag that he some kind of, as the Mexican called them;  a pistolaro. But in the weeks he lived with Clara, Jake never showed her sign of treachery or violence, except when he would playful smack he small bare bottom during one of their moments. They were the best weeks of Clara’s adult life she thought. Then one morning, she woke to find Jake had left, long before her rooster had woken. He left her a note that said, “Clara, This is best. Thank you for your kindness and coffee. Jake.” Just like that, he had climbed up on his damn horse and rode off. Clara again found herself alone. For weeks she prayed that he would return, and at night she would lay there and imagine him with her. Some nights Clara would lay her hands on the places of her body that Jake favored, and think of him.

And there Jake was on his horse. With her finger tight on the rifle trigger, she thought for a moment she’d shoot them both… him and his damn horse. Clara watched him ride closer. She could hear him and his horse breathing. But never lowered the rifle, even though her arms were cramping painfully. Jake was now finally close enough to where she could look in his eyes. He was caked full of prairie dust, it made his black hair look white.
“You bastard Jake!”
Jake barley lifted his head. He tried to speak, and then tumbled of off his horse and hit the hard red clay ground. Clara set down her rifle and ran to Jake’s still body.
“Jake! Jake! Wake up damn you! You didn’t ride all the way out here, just to die I front of me! You’re not that cruel of a man?!”
Clara rolled Jake over on his back to inspect him. There was a hole in him; he’d been shot in the side. His blood was dried up and crusted on his shirt. Clara checked the rest of him; she even grabbed his area between his legs just to see if he was all there. She worked her hand there for a moment to try and get a rise out of him. It was limp like the rest of him. “Damn you Jake! I need all of you workin’ proper!”

Clara was originally an Easterner; her body was slender, but not rawboned. For her size she was strong, and she used all of what she had in her, to drag Jake into the cabin. “You got some nerve comin’ here shot up, before I could shoot ya myself,” Clara said.
Clara somehow got Jake over to her bed, where she undressed him and tended to his wound. It was a gunshot wound as far as she could tell; the bullet seemed to have traveled clean through what extra fat he carried on his side. She poured some whiskey on his gunshot and cleaned it best she could. Jake started to stir a bit, but his ramblings she still couldn’t understand. As it grew to night, Jake was starting to shake and tremble. All Clara could think of doing was to take off her thin dress and to wrap herself in the wool blanket. She used whatever warmth she had in her thin naked body to keep Jake warm. During the night, Jake started to speak, at first she thought she was imagining that he was saying, “Clara.” But she wasn’t, in his fog, Jake repeated and called out her name, until there was no doubt in Clara’s mind that Jake must have been returning to her. She figured that Jake’s bullet wound was the cause of an unlucky encounter on his way to see her. Clara laid with Jake Redskon for three days and three nights before he was fully aware that he’s made it to Clara’s little cabin.
 “Where’s my brother Pegasus,” were the first words out of Jake’s mouth. Jake looked over at the lovely yellow haired prairie girl. Clara put her hands on her hips, “Don’t worry about him, he’s doing a lot better than you. That’s for sure.”  
“Hot damn, you know I was almost robbed by a highwayman on my way to pay my respects to you,” said Jake.
“Almost robbed? He almost killed you.”
Jake gave Clara a little smile.
“We’ll, I didn’t almost kill him.” Jake winked at her.
But, Jake removed his smile when he saw that Clara wasn’t smiling back at him. Maybe she was mad that he wasn’t dead, he wondered for a brief moment.
“You left me Jake. You left me here with a broken heart, after you had your way with me, and taught me all of those nasty things that them saloon girls like to do.”
“I’m sorry Clara. Yes, I did leave… you got me dead to rights on that.
Jake couldn’t take the stare down from Clara, and looked down at the wool blanket.
“I left that night… well, because I didn’t think I could stay in one spot. I’m a man with a horse who can fly.”
“Jake, Pegasus is just his damn name. No horse can fly.”
“Well, when he wants to, he can get pretty high up there.
Jake looked at Clara and scratched is head.
“And when did you start talkin’ like a saloon girl, Clara? ”
“Maybe, after you taught me all them saloon girl tricks you like so much?”
“Can I finish my trial, Clara?”
“Go ahead Jake.”
Well, after I left… I was truly missing you. I thought I could cure that feelin’ with beer and whiskey and…”
“Other women?”
“Well, now that you mention it… I tried that too. But the truth was nothin’ worked. You can ask my brother Pegasus, I’m sure he was sick of me bellyaching’ about how much I missed you… because one day, he just headed us back in the direction to your place. And here we are.”
“Oh, so it was the horse’s idea?”
“Well, not all of it, darn it!”
“And how did you get shot?”
“Well like I said, this highwayman got the drop on me, down by the Three Creeks. I didn’t care to kill the man, and I was most obliging to that low prairie dog.”
“You were?”
“Well, I was… that was until he wanted to look in my saddlebag. I told him, he could have whatever he wanted; except my horse, clothes, gun and my fancy wrapped gift in my saddle bag… which is for you. Well Clara, it seemed he wanted just about everything I said that he couldn’t have. So we drew on each other. And now he’s much worse off than me.”
“Is that so, Jake Redskon?”
“Well, that is… if you don't see it in your heart to leave with me?”
Clara gasp.
Jake new that was a good sign; Clara would gasp like that when he would tell her of all naughty things he wanted to do to her naked body.
“That was the problem, it me staying put… but you coming with me. And being my partner…that’ll work," said Jake.
“What kind of partner, Jake?”
“Well, the kind that kiss in the moonlight and such. Do you think you could fancy that? I know you’re leaving your fancy cabin behind and all,” said Jake.
“Do you love me, Jake?”
“Well hell, I got shot didn’t I?”
“What does that prove?”
“Well, I got shot because that fella was gonna rob me of the look on your face.”
“Jake, what are you talkin’ about?” Clara said.
“When I give you that fancy wrapped box, with that pretty gold ring in it”
Clara smiled and ran to her pistolaro and kissed him long and hard, just to remind him what he'd missed. Clara knew for sure now that Jake had been coming back for her, and she’d have no problem leaving her cabin behind to be his partner… life with Jake was going to be a damn adventure.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Whitney Huston... The Way I'd Like to Remember Her.
When I saw the post on Facebook that Whitney Huston checked out of this world, it gave me pause. Of course I felt bad that this once great talent had been snuffed out like Elton John’s song said… like a candle in the wind. But in all honestly, I always thought Whitney Huston’s brilliant life (like Michael Jackson a couple years earlier and more recently Amy Winehouse) wouldn’t have a pretty ending… and to be honest; I was surprised that what happened yesterday took this long? Her delema was not a guarded secret at all... we all knew what was up with her. Whitney Huston was such a force in music the 1980’s & 90’s, she truly was America's sweetheart of pop music. And she let it all get away from her. And she had this amazing charisma on stage, she had these looks of a fashion model that gave her an entrée into the movies… she was destine for some really amazing things… but her life sadly derailed off the tracks. Drugs, a bad marriage, who knows what else? Some people get sucked into the vortex of fame and get spit out in shreds… Whitney Huston made her film debut in the smash 1993 movie called The Bodyguard, playing a pop superstar who falls in love with her protector played by Kevin Costner. I think she might have really needed someone like that in her real life... but then again; how can you have someone protect you from yourself?

Where were you, Kevin Costner?
She was a superstar, but unfortunately Whitney Huston was a modern day version of jazz great Billie Holiday, who died at age 44 in 1959 after hard times due to addiction. History sadly continues to repeat itself again… we don’t know as of yet what caused Whitney Huston’s final curtain call… but I’m sure battle with drugs didn’t help one bit. I’m not Dr. fn OZ, but let this be a lesson, you just can’t do that shit and expect to have the luxury of living to a ripe old age. One thing I can say about Madonna (the Joan Crawford of pop music) is that she takes care of herself.

What I do take from this sad story is how many people loved Whitney Huston… from all the posts I saw on Facebook, all her fans forgave and forgot all of her past trails and tribulations. Sadly for as much jubilation that artists like Whitney Huston, Michael Jackson… all the way back to Elvis himself gave; it’s heartbreaking when they seem to fail themselves… when they crumble before our eyes.  We find that they are mere humans, same as us… the amazing thing, for all the heroic charisma they seems to possess as artists; many lack or lose the fundamental strength to save themselves in the real world. I really feel sorry for Whitney Huston's eighteen year old daughter, who is now without a mother… and I’m sure all the vultures are sitting in the trees just sharpening their beaks, just waiting… very sad indeed. A friend posted a memory last night on Facebook. She wrote something to the affect, that she had loved Whitney Huston, and as a little girl had the joy to her see her in concert in her prime sitting on her mothers shoulders… well that’s the way to remember her. That’s my two fn cents.

Friday, February 10, 2012


I’m a member of a great organization called Film Independent (FYI for a small fee, anyone can join. It's great for filmmakers and fans of film.) Among other great things Film Independent  does, it puts on is The Spirit Awards (think Indie Oscars.) Well, as a member in good standing, I was invited to a screening of Sony & MGM Pictures new version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Based on the posthumous best selling book trilogy by the late Swedish author Stieg Larrson. And which has  already produced three fantastic Swedish films with actress Noomi Rapace; who I just loved in the now iconic the role of Lisbeth Salander. This amazing literary and (now celluloid) character's so full of attitude, I described in a past blog as the new Steve McQueen.( But along the attitude she's the ultimate underdog; a friendless loner... did I also mention, she can open up a can of major whoop ass if you piss her off ? Lisbeth Salander's all that and so much more. So for me, Rooney Mara had some big tattoos to fill…

I guess you gotta start somewhere?

Before last nights screening at the Landmark Theaters in West Los Angeles, the audience was treated to a Q & A with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo herself; Rooney Mara as well as director David Fincher (as well as cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, editors Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall.) When I first heard that there were plans underway to make an American version on these films, well at first I cringed… but when I heard it was Fincher at the helm, I gave a sigh of relief! If anyone could make it work, it would be the man who directed Zodiac and Seven. But I was still really wondering who'd step into Repace’s black commando boots? Rooney Mara? I had never heard of her (which was actually a good thing for this role.) I heard that she had a part in last year’s Oscar contender The Social Network… which I did see… and I guess I kinda remembered her in that? Well, once the film started, I pushed my memories of Noomie Repace aside and let Rooney Mara show me her stuff… and she did not disappoint.

During the Q & A, Fincher stated that he had seen a slew of actresses for this part, the two things that won him over with her (which he used in his case with the studio to cast her) was that he said that she couldn’t be broken… whatever unpleasant thing he asked of her during the audition process, she did… they couldn’t break her. That, and her onscreen chemistry with Daniel Craig, who plays disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist, whom she reluctantly teams up with to solve a 40 year old murder mystery at the request of powerful industrialist, Christopher Plummer (which is only part of the story…) Funny, now when you hear Daniel Craig's name... you might think, James Bond through osmosis? But FYI the real hero in these stories is strictly Rooney Mara's Lisbeth Salander.

It's all about chemistry

Rooney, who has been rewarded for this role with an Oscar nomination, not only steps into those black commando boots… she does indeed fill them, and makes them her own. She so looked tiny to me in person at last nights screening… but onscreen last night, she filled the screen with a swagger that would make Vin Diesel her "bitch." If you like an intense movie experience, go see TGWTDT. It’s a great mystery film with action and most importantly... it’s got amazingly well written characters. Anther great thing, if you see TGWTDT and get hooked on these characters, and if you don't mind reading subtitles, you can rent the exciting Swedish sequels... I promise that the transition will be flawless... because in the end, it's all in the character; Lisbeth Salander with both actresses in the role of a lifetime!

Don't piss her off!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ben Gazzara: You Know, I'm Just Fucking With You?

Take a Bow, Benny
“Bukoswki’s was a pussy!” He growled to the laughter of the audience. They had opened up the Q&A to the audience. I got the chance to ask one question of Ben Gazzara. I asked him about the film; Tales of Ordinary Madness. The movie which he played the infamous L.A. skid row poet Charles Bukowski. “I spent the day with him,” Gazzara said. “He came in carrying fine French wines, while I was drinking Night Train,” with a roll of his distinctive eyes. This special night was called an Evening with Ben Gazzara, it took place last year at the Cinefamily Theater, located on Fairfax Ave. in Los Angeles. And it was a rare occasion indeed... and I had my camera.

Photo by Ray Ramos
With Ben Gazzara’s passing yesterday, it is truly the end of a special era. Probably the last of the great Broadway actors of the 50’s… when New York Theater was breaking new ground with productions like, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Hateful of Rain (both starring Garraza.) Gazzara to his credit, never lost the lead in his pencil like Brando, who for his last twenty years had grown to distain acting as profession and did it only to pay his overhead… unlike Brando, you never saw Ben Gazzara dial it in; this guy loved acting. Gazzara never quit it.

“Getting old’s a bitch,” Gazzara said. Gazzara, who was 80 at the time (not 81, as he corrected the nights moderator.) “I was born in August… I’m 80!" Having had suffered a stroke several years back, the only remains it seemed that night last March, was the  loss of that great timber in his usually gravely voice. Otherwise the guy was sharp and as funny as hell… as he warmly entertained the SRO Theater for about an hour with tales of his 60 years as an actor, and proving that he was still Benny from the block. 

Gazzara spoke of growing up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and as a youth spending time at the local Boys Club. It was after a pal invited him to watch him in a play that Gazzara said he became jealous when he saw his friend getting applause. He soon asked his friend, how he can do that? Eventually Gazzara’s talent got him an audition at The Actor’s Studio (and he was asked to join.) Gazzara stressed that the “Studio” wasn’t a theatre group but a workshop, for actors to experiment and hone their talents. Gazzara really was there during that magic time with names like; Lee Strasberg, Eli Kazan and Tennessee Williams. Gazzara originated the part of Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on the stage, spoke of how he thought he had the part in the big MGM movie with Elizabeth Taylor. Upon his first trip to Hollywood, he said that the head of MCA, Lew Wasserman, met him at the stairs of the plane.

Wasserman whisked him off to lunch at the famed movie star hangout, Romanoff’s, where he met Humphrey Bogart, John Huston and Gregory Peck. He said he had a nice meeting with director George Cukor (who was originally slated to direct the movie adaptation) who pressed him about the homosexual aspect of the Tennessee Williams piece... which the studio was trying to suppress from the piece. He felt the meeting went so well, he went whistling out of MGM’s Thalberg Building. Gazzara got a call not long after, telling him that the studio gave the part to a contract player named, Paul Newman… and we know what happened to him?
Gazzara went to make his film debut in a picture called The Strange One. The story took place on in a Southern Military Academy, with Gazzara playing a character with name Jocko De Paris a sadistic character, that Gazzara corrected the night’s moderator by letting him know that he was the films lead character even though he wasn’t its hero. Gazzara revealed that The Strange One (as well another piece A Hat Full of Rain) originated as a play, and were created with several of his friends as experimental stage pieces. 

Ben Gazzara: The Young Lion, 1950's

 Gazzara recalled his first big picture was Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder, a courtroom drama, which had him cast opposite screen legend Jimmy Stewart. Gazzara spoke of how he watched the old movie pro prepared for his scenes and said that Stewart like Gary Cooper (who Gazzara said, for him was the greatest film actor ever) seemed to do so little, but on screen they showed so much. That amazed the young novice screen actor.

In the 1960’s television series Run for Your Life, Gazzara played a young lawyer, who’s told he’s dying with two years or less to live. Gazzara’s character Paul Bryan’s mission in the show was to cram as much living as possible, into whatever time he had left. I remember this was the favorite show of my uncle Forrest, whose own life was ironically cut short at the age of twenty, while serving in Vietnam in 1967. Often when I would see Ben Gazzara, I would think of my uncle Forrest. So that night last year with Gazzara, it made me feel like I was paying my respects to both of them in a way. 
Uncle Forrest
 After his series ended its three year run, Gazzara returned to being a busy journeyman actor. He told a great story that night about filming a World War II film, The Bridge at Remagen in Czechoslovakia. During the production the Soviets decided to invade the country and the company had to relocate the whole production to West Germany. But not before Gazzara and fellow actor Robert Vaughn decided to personally smuggle a Czech waitress they had become friendly out of the country in their car... luckily they were successful.

That night at Cinefamily, the featured film was, Husbands. Gazzara’s first collaboration with director &  pioneer iindependent filmmaker, John Cassavetes (whom he also co-stars with along with Peter Falk.)  The film was about a trio of pals who take a wild impromptu trip to London after their close friend suddenly dies... think a method actors version of The Hangover. The project turned out to be a great experience and turning point for Gazzara as an actor. Gazzara, who hardly knew Cassavetes and Falk at the time, but jumped on to the project after seeing a screening Cassavetes film cinema verite film, Faces. In Ben Gazzara, Cassavetes found the perfect leading man, who processed a certain earthiness, which worked so well in his work… and to Gazzara, Cassavetes was not a just filmmaker, but a poet. When Cassavetes died in 1989, Gazzara lost his great collaborator and friend, and it was said that he went into a depression for many years over the loss. When Gazzara spoke of Cassavetes that night he became teary-eyed. 

Husbands 1970

I took this portrait of Gazzara, as he took a moment after speaking about his pal, John Cassavetes.

These Two: The Poet & The Lion
 For me personally, when I really first started to dig Ben Gazzara, I was a 14 years old kid. Somehow, I ended up seeing this crazy movie with a strange title; The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (and another film by John Cassavetes) at the local theater (The UA Cinema in Marina Del Rey) it must have been rated R? But somehow, I saw it? But I’ll tell you, it left an impression on me to this day.

The grainy neon noir piece set on the Sunset Strip, had Gazzara as a nightclub owner Cosmo Vitelli who owes the mob twenty-three large. His only way to clear the books is to take a hit for them in Chinatown.
Filmed at the famed Gazzarri’s night club in Hollywood, I would find it also ironic, that it would be the first nightclub I would ever step into a few years later at the age of sixteen.
Again in jest during a clip of the film that night, Gazzara chimed in, “In this scene, I was going to kill a Chinese bookie!” I didn’t know what it was at the time? But that film and especially Gazzara’s performance as a desperate man on a run of bad luck, but who never loses his vision or his touch of class; that always stuck with me... such a performance! From that point on, if Ben Gazzara was in the cast, I was interested… when it comes to presence, he was a fucking lion!

Even to have loved and lost Audrey... is to have lived a life!

 He was truly great in whatever role he played. He was the charming, rogue private eye in Peter Bogdanovich’s romantic comedy The All Laughed, where Gazzara wooed non-other than Audrey Hepburn herself (the two also made the picture Bloodline together… which they had an ill-fated, love affair off-screen.) To this Gazzara just confessed "I loved Audrey..."Gazzara said he’s probably remembered most for the villainous Brad Wesley, the part he played in the Patrick Swayze picture Road House. Gazzara laughed and said it was his most played picture on television. But many remember Gazzara as pornographer Jackie Treehorn in the Coen’s cult classic, Big Lebowski or as Vincent Gallo’s crooning pop in the quirky indie film Buffalo 66. He also lent his presence to David Mamet's little masterpiece, The Spanish Prisoner.

"You know, I'm just fucking with you?"
Gazzara was an Emmy winner, but amazingly was never nominated an Oscar… times in Hollywood have changed, I’m sure many of his performances like Chinese Bookie or Saint Jack (another Bogdanovich picture set & shot in Singapore at the end of The Vietnam War, with Gazzara as Jack Flowers, a Yankee pimp with a heart of gold)  were to be released now, they would be considered Oscar worthy… Gazzara was just to ahead of the game. With Cassavetes long gone, and Peter Falk passing last year and now Benny… like I said; the end of an era. During that evening last year, my favorite moments came watching the feisty actor from the Lower East Side, having some good natured fun, by busting the balls of his 40 something bearded moderator. At one point, towards the end of the night, Benny gave him a little slap on the face, and said with a smile, “You know, I’m just fucking with you?”   

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