Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Celluloid Mayhem at Pomerado Hospital

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.

Me (with clipboard) and my brother Scott on the set of Pensacola.

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.

John Wayne, Randolph Scott, and Budd Boetticher.



12 comments on “Celluloid Mayhem at Pomerado Hospital

  1. Dracula

    And he attended The Ohio State University!


    • Todd B

      Yep, I noticed that when I was looking up movie facts about him. I guess if I did end up going to that dinner, it might’ve been wise of me to wear a Buckeyes jersey.


  2. Dracula

    Did the P.T. Barnum movie ever get made? Was he filming it in Ramona as I see he died there? Or was it just his residence? HB!


    • Todd B

      It was never made by him, but I don’t know if someone else might’ve filmed it, under a different title. And in the stories I read for that article, I never found anything that showed filming had actually begun, although Boetticher did mention that he had Robert Mitchum and James Coburn lined up to star in it. And thanks for the HB note!


  3. Julie Dunning

    Very great story!! Don’t beat yourself up so much over it tho.


    • Todd B

      Thanks, Julie! And I promise not to beat myself up over it…I’ll just slap myself a few times.


  4. Ahhhhhhhhh is all I can say other than great story and thanks for sharing.


  5. I think this was basically your best post to date. For obvious reasons. The pic of the hospital (where we met) is a good one – the way I want to remember it. And I can always crop Scott out of that other pic.


    • Todd B

      Well, thanks for that nice comment! (Although I’m not sure Scott will be too pleased!). I guess Pomerado has had some changes, so I’m glad I found a pic from around the time I worked there, and when your Dad was a patient. Over 25 years ago, if you can believe it!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dracula

    Now that we are going back on Pomerado memories. Remember wheeling Bob around the corridors in the hospital almost 40, yes FORTY years ago?


    • Todd B

      It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly forty years…a long, long time ago. But the thing is, I was still living in Washington when you and Reid were visiting Bob (and racing around the hallways). When I finally got back to SD, he passed away less than two weeks later, so I only got to see him twice. I remember at the time, you had to be 18 to visit a patient there without a parent, so I had to wait for my Dad to take me…and of course, he was always too busy. The one time I do remember visiting Bob, he and I were talking and catching up, and my Dad suddenly decided it was time to go, even though I’d only been there maybe a half hour. What I wish was that someone had just dropped me off there and let me hang with him for several hours, watching ballgames on TV or whatever.


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