Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
I know this may seem like an odd location to experience some film-related mayhem, but trust me, it’ll all make sense in the end. And normally these articles show the more wacky or out-of-control aspects of my movie-going ventures, but this entry will prove to be a little more sedate; in fact, there isn’t really any mayhem to speak of. No, this is all about someone doing something very dumb…and three guesses who the idiot of this story is going to be.
First, a little history. Back in the 1990s and early-2000s, I had a job as a tech assistant in the Radiology department of Pomerado Hospital, a small medical center located in Poway, California. I worked with a lot of really fun people, both in my department and throughout the hospital, and looking back, it was probably a job I never should’ve left. It was also during this time, during my off-hours away from x-ray, that I was working on independent movies and television series as a script supervisor in and around San Diego; the movies I’m sure you’ve never heard of, but perhaps you caught glimpses of Silk Stalkings, Pensacola, and High Tide while watching TV.
During the time I was doing continuity work on Pensacola in the late-1990s, I worked in x-ray with a radiology tech named Bill, who was maybe fifteen years older than me. He was a nice guy and easy to get along with, and was very excited and interested in my filmmaking ventures. He was even perhaps a bit starstruck when I’d talk about working with the likes of Rick Springfield, James Brolin, and Jennifer Campbell (you know, the girl who flew first-class with Jerry in an episode of Seinfeld). He would always chat with me about movies, and if I’d ever worked with a particular big-time actor or actress. I hated to tell him no, I would never reach those lofty heights as a non-union script supervisor, but it never seemed to faze him. To him, I was always just one small step away from a successful career in Hollywood.
Bill was also somewhat of an excitable person, who—in a good way—would often get keyed up over little things, or would take something small and build it up into something big. If I mentioned that my Dad and I were going to a movie or a ballgame after work, Bill would want to go along, eager to meet my father and hang out with the two of us for an evening. But I would always find a way to tactfully avoid inviting him, knowing my Dad well enough to understand the compatibility issues that would arise between the two. So those friendly get-togethers with Bill would never transpire, and beyond the occasional group outing with co-workers, my interactions with him would exist only in x-ray.
Then one day while working my shift at Pomerado, Bill asked if I’d like to come up for dinner with him and his wife at his home in Ramona—a small country town located about a half-hour’s drive east from the hospital—and meet a friend of his. He never mentioned the friend’s name, but Bill said the guy wanted to direct a movie, and thought I might be interested in talking to him. My first thought was, yeah sure, some farmer wants to take his 8mm video camera and make a movie about…what? How to drive and maintain a backhoe?
Bill told me the film story had something to do with horses, and knowing the ranch country up there, that part made perfect sense. Of course, the considerate person in me should’ve accepted and said yes, I’d love to come up, but the small slice of snob inside said no thank you; the idea of driving into the back country of Ramona to dine with someone I didn’t know, who was also an amateur filmmaker, just didn’t appeal to me. So again, I tactfully wormed my way out of it, and never followed through with the invitation.
We now jump forward a few years to 2001, when in November a well-known Hollywood director passes away. I knew of the director’s work, and had seen a handful of his films, and when I read his obituary in the newspaper, and saw he’d passed away in Ramona, California, I felt a cold chill begin to inch its way up my spine. When I then read that he’d been working on personal film project when he died—the true story of circus founder P.T. Barnum buying several Andalusian horses, and the cowboys he hires to bring them back—I realized that I’d quite possibly made the stupidest mistake of my life when I declined that dinner invitation. But I had to make sure.
The next time I worked with Bill, I asked him if he remembered the name of the director friend of his. Yes, he told me, it was Budd, and he’d just passed away. And that’s when it really hit me that I was indeed the biggest numbskull on Earth, and had turned down a chance to meet director Budd Boetticher, who had over forty directorial credits to his name, and had worked with such stars as John Wayne, Audie Murphy, Robert Ryan, Maureen O’Sullivan, Joseph Cotten, and most famously, Randolph Scott, in seven highly-regarded Westerns. He’d even directed a film noir that I’d seen and really liked, The Killer is Loose. I could’ve talked with him about that one for hours.
In retrospect, I didn’t really turn down a chance to meet him…I turned down a chance to have dinner with him! Arrgh! So today, in honor of Boetticher and to hopefully atone for the horrific blunder I’d made twenty years ago, I’ve decided to purchase—as a gift to myself on my birthday, and to celebrate the 4-year anniversary of this site—a 5-movie set of Western collaborations between Boetticher and Scott on DVD, a collection which includes The Tall T, Decision at Sundown, Buchanan Rides Alone, Comanche Station, and Ride Lonesome. I’m also getting a great revenge Western I’d seen years ago called 7 Men from Now, also directed by Boetticher and starring Scott.
And that’s my moment of mayhem to kick off the new year…perhaps not as outrageous as the two talkative women getting scolded at a Seattle movie theater, or as frustrating as my ‘Back to the Future Night’ experience, but it was still loopy enough to share, I think. And I would never have the opportunity to dine with a director again…well, at least not a famous one, anyway.