Saturday, June 16, 2012

PSYCHO at Bryant Park Film Festival 6/18

This Monday, June 18, I'll help kick off the 20th anniversary Bryant Park Film Festival in NYC by co-hosting a screening of Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO. Able co-host Scott Adlerberg and I will conduct a pre-film discussion in the park's outdoor "Reading Room" area off 42nd St., as part of the series "Word-for-Word Reel Talks." We'll be talking about the film, the 1959 Robert Bloch novel it's based on, and other various and sundry topics. The lawn opens at 5 p.m., with the discussion at 7 p.m. and the film at dusk, weather permitting. You can read Bosley Crowther's original New York Times review, from June 17, 1960, here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Henry Hill: 1943-2012

Henry Hill, the mob-wiseguy-turned-informant and one of the models for Benny Roth in KINGS OF MIDNIGHT, died in Los Angeles Tuesday at age 69. A member of the crew that pulled off the multi-million-dollar Lufthansa heist at Kennedy Airport in 1978, Hill fled into the federal Witness Protection Program in fear of his life, and later testified against his former colleagues. His story was immortalized in Nicholas Pileggi's book WISEGUY, which Martin Scorsese turned into the classic film GOODFELLAS. You can see a photo gallery of the Lufthansa heist here.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Liars and winners

We have a winner in the Call Me a Liar contest, originally hosted over at the Pulp Pusher site, as part of this Q&A interview. It's Robert McMahon of Narragansett, R.I., and he wins signed copies of both COLD SHOT TO THE HEART and GONE 'TIL NOVEMBER. Out of all the entrants, he is the only one who correctly picked No.3 as the lie.

Here are the truths, untruth and explanations:

1.) I’ve seen TAXI DRIVER fourteen times.

TRUE. Fourteen, at least. I have a framed one-sheet poster of it in my living room. I saw it twice in one week shortly after it came out, on a double-bill with Brian DePalma's OBSESSION (also scripted by Paul Schrader).

2.) Bruce Springsteen once borrowed my DVD of Monte Hellman’s TWO-LANE BLACKTOP.

TRUE. There was a period of time around 2005 when the DVD of Hellman's 1971 road movie was out of print and unavailable (it was rereleased a few years later by Criterion). Through a mutual friend, I was approached by someone who worked for Springsteen at the time, inquiring if I had a copy. Apparently, Bruce had caught part of it on TV, and was now looking for the actual DVD without having much luck. I Fedexed my copy to the employee, without really expecting to get it back. But in fact, I did, about a month later. Footage from the film eventually wound up in the documentary WINGS FOR WHEELS that Springsteen released in late 2005, as part of the BORN TO RUN 30th anniversary box set. Whether the clip was actually ripped from my DVD or not, I'll never know. I suspect it was.
(Top, Warren Oates with his 455 V8 GTO from the film).

3.) Years ago, I had a conversation with Stephen King while standing at adjoining urinals at the New York Hilton.

LIE. I actually did meet Stephen King at the N.Y. Hilton during the American Booksellers Association Convention there in 1991. And I did actually stand at an adjoining urinal with him, but I did NOT try to engage him in conversation. A few weeks later, I did an extensive interview with him for WRITER'S DIGEST magazine. You can read it here.

4.) I went skydiving once, landed in a tree and had to be rescued.

TRUE. In 1981, I went skydiving for the first (and, it turned out, only) time at a rural airport in Palatka, Fla. I jumped out of a Cessna 180 (pictured) at 3,000 feet, using a static line, but was late exiting the plane (in that model Cessna, you have to climb out on the strut, feet on the wheel, before you jump, in order to clear the plane. It's not easy). As a result, I missed the exit point my jumpmaster had picked, didn't make the drop zone and instead landed in some pine trees across a highway from the airport. I was wedged into branches about 12 feet up, until someone from the jump center came out to rescue me, nothing injured but my pride. I went back to do it twice more, but on both occasions the wind was such that, as a beginner, they wouldn't take me up, which I saw as a sign from the universe not to do it again. Haven't ruled it out for the future though.

5.) I once hit a Catholic nun in the back of the head with an orange (by accident).

TRUE, unfortunately. It was on the playground at the Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Long Branch, N.J. I was in seventh grade, and I was aiming at someone else. I forget the sister's name, but she pounced on me, grabbed me by my shirtfront with both hands and shook me like a terrier shakes a rat. Not my finest moment.

Thanks to everyone who participated.