Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Today's Blind Items - The Wrong Guy

This is about a murder. A very high profile Hollywood murder. Even though, the wrong guy has, up to this day, been the wrong guy attached to the killing, he was an awful human being. A rapist, child molester, drug dealer, woman beating a-hole. Still though, a guy got away with the murder and then was murdered himself later in life when he was going to spill the secret in a plea deal.

The murder I'm talking about has been discussed in every possible media format since almost the day it happened up to the present day. From almost the very beginning of the case, the people in charge of running it knew exactly who the killer was. The problem is that one of the investigators was closeted. At that time, there were very very few, if any openly gay detectives and if he came out or word got out he was gay, he would be fired or forced to quit. The problem he faced was he was having a sexual relationship with a male employee of the killer so the killer had a lot of leverage. A lot. The detective's partner was able to be swayed by an employer of one of the deceased. That employer offered him his choice of woman from a group of about 20 women for an entire year and introduced them all to him at a party thrown at the employer's house. Done and done. It was no problem to blame it on a different person because that different person wasn't around to dispute it.

Fast forward a decade or so. Our killer, who had multiple killings in his past, was facing serious jail time. He was also facing financial ruin. He knew if he was going to get out of jail or have a much shorter sentence he was going to have to trade something really good. How about a pair of detectives and the A+ lister who had offered up the woman. Word got to the detectives about it and the next thing you know, some guards at the jail killed the killer and tried to make it look like a suicide. They didn't do a good job, but no one was all that interested in looking too hard at it.


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Juliaph said...


What I meant was that Plot was doing all the work and research and feeding it to others in the blind. Plot was doing the "chewing". It was a compliment. No point in offending someone that is putting so much into the project.

I actually find this one of the more fascinating blinds and eagerly look for comments on it.

Doug said...

@Juliap, the word "masticating" is always good for a laugh.

plot said...


Yes, I was repeating the theory that Sharon Tate's murder killed the Hippy movement. Maybe I should have included it's source, which I am unaware of. The death of the Hippy movement was not automatic, BTW, it took several more years of mass murders in Vietnam, more serious protests, and a very corrupt election and government to finally make the Hippies grow up.

My interests are cultural, not conspiratorial. On some level, it doesn't matter who killed Stratten or Tate, for me. The reverberations and reactions are more my thing. Yes, the story of these deaths adds to the context which is extremely important. I'm terribly interested in how extraordinary beautiful women (which Tate and Stratten were) continue to shake society if they are murdered or die suddenly (Princess Di.) There is a tendency is to jump on a conspiracy bandwagon - how could such stunning women DIE???? They had everything!!!! I'd rather know why we have this reaction and study the dangers and threats of beauty itself.

As far as the end of the American Auteur director, I have nothing to add that supports any purposeful ending by higher forces. It was a movement bound to crash and burn, as it never really existed in the first place (like it did in Europe, different culture entirely.) We had our experiments in Coppola, the early Lucas films, Cassavetes, Bogdanovich, Woody Allen, and so forth. But largely it was all a myth in the USA, of independent filmmakers with the only vision. Film has always been a team sport in the USA, unlike Europe where small films could be made cheaply by a few players (perhaps the only real auteur film in the USA that reached any success is the Blair Witch Project or the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Horror films, ain't THAT interesting!)

During the late 60s and 70s, studios were throwing money at these alleged auteurs and they came away with great successes. It was a crazy time for the studios since the old reliable Western and the crowd pleasing musical were both dead. Studios were still casting lines for a predictable result, even with the enormous flash points of The Godfather, American Graffiti, Dog Day Afternoon, etc.

By the late 70s, cocaine was ravaging the music and film industry. The money studios used to send to Coppola in the jungle, for 18 months of expensive shooting, no questions asked, was being spent on bacchanalia and drugs. Okay, that's not entirely fair. The studios were beginning to see failures in the auteur experiment anyway, because the myth was flawed. No US film maker is a lone wolf. American films are group creations. When the directors decided they owned all the talent and genius behind their movies, shit went to hell.

[a footnote: Woody Allen is the only director from that period who kept his team together, who didn't jettison talented collaborators to be the Big Star director. And look at how long he lasted making significant films! A long assed time.]

So to get back to Dorothy, Bogdanovich provided the perfect excuse for studios to end the rule of the director. Here was Bogdanovich eating up studio money to make awful Cybill Shepherd movies, to hang out at the Playboy Mansion and party. It was as though the studios wanted to shame these directors, one by one, to reassert their control over the product which luckily had presented a template in Star Wars (which I remain one of the few, proudly, to have never seen.)

Stratten's death probably made the studios giddy with the ability to show the world the kind of depravity these fancy pants directors are involved in. The studios weren't wrong, actually, but they quit looking for new directors who could fill the Myth of the Auteur role. Fuck those guys. They're done. Long live light teenaged comedy and sci-fi!

Doug said...

Thanks, @plot. Despite deep differences between your outlook and mine, we can have a constructive conversation.

One director who seems to me to have been an auteur is Stanley Kubrick. But being so probably requires that you be a highly intelligent, highly motivated control freak. In the extreme. Whatever the prominent directors are or were, most of them have not been extreme enough to control their product. Another candidate that comes to mind is Dreyer, whose main works were made about once per decade. I think that his three main sound films are all sublime.

Your comment about cocaine is striking, because recently I watched most of the multi-part documentary film about the Grateful Dead. They used hallucinogens a lot during the late 1960s and possibly into the 1970s, but as the 1970s progressed, cocaine took over. I have limited interest in any of their albums after Wake of the Flood, in 1973. That said, some of their shows were excellent throughout their career. I only saw them perform once and have not listened to a lot of the tapes, but I know they didn't completely collapse in the mid-1970s. But the film made clear the insidious effects of the spread of cocaine use by the band and their entourage.

I'm thrilled to hear that you have never seen Star Wars. I have not, either, none of them, and never will. It's a lifelong boycott. I fell down in the past with Spielberg, in part to accommodate a precocious child who was working his way through the history of film, and who soon thereafter, at age 11 or 12, was taking in Dreyer, Bresson, Ozu, Mizoguchi, and other such, with me. He made me watch Indiana Jones once, and Saving Private Ryan, and AI. But I've never see ET and never will, and I'll never see anything else that Spielberg is connected to. I maintain quite a few boycotts, covering entertainment, news, publishing, and what not. I'm into music, mainly classical. The scraps of quality within popular music interest me, too, but unlike great classical music, you can fully absorb and grasp most popular music, and there are diminishing returns on listening after that. By contrast, some works by Beethoven and other composers are inexhaustible. They live and grow in the listener's mind. I don't have a TV and I rarely "watch" anything, including videos. Watching is single-tasking, and I prefer to concentrate on great music or read books. I listen to some music and to podcasts, and listen to but do not watch certain videos, while multi-tasking. I have been to about five films in the last five years, none of them on my own initiative. And I have seen a few films on DVD or streaming, mostly not of my own initiative. All of that said, there are films that I have not seen and would like to, and at some point probably will.

I hope "The Shape of Water" wins best picture, because a family member took me to see it a couple of months ago. First cinema experience in more than a year for me. I didn't think it was so great, but you can understand why I am rooting for it. You know, "one shot" and a bullseye. We'll find out soon...

SteveD said...

I thought that Jaws was the mortal wound to the auteur movement, or if not that certainly Star Wars. Sure, it limped along for a few years, but once Hollywood had a taste of the blockbuster there was no going back. The blood was in the water, so to speak.

Doug said...

@SteveD, yes, Spielberg and Lucas. Jaws and Star Wars. The lineage of somewhat better films survived for just a few years after that.

@plot (and @SteveD, et al), at the risk of bringing up a partisan theme (from which I am very detached these days), the advent of Thatcher and Reagan/Bush was part of a cultural change, and perhaps of some kind of "energetic" change at the time. In addition to the effects on film culture, popular music was utterly ravaged by MTV, which launched in 1981.

Doug said...

And there it is, Best Director and Best Picture for "The Shape of Water".

plot said...


Kubrick is one odd duck. I don't think there is any way of classifying him at all. In the first place, is he really an American director? He lived most his life in the UK and produced every film there from Lolita on (with perhaps the necessary distance to really stick it to the good old USA.) He might be an auteur. Nothing says he isn't...except...an intuition that Kubrick would have hated that classification and the immaturity it suggested.

Kubrick exists to start discussions, whether it's his films or his life or his point of view. He's an interesting fellow. Sometimes I really like his work, sometimes I don't like it at all - mainly because I sometimes feel that Kubrick is very manipulative and often at the core of his works there is a big gaping nothing while he manipulates us into thinking there is something. But, we will keep talking about him, won't we, and all his movies are meant to be chewed over, no doubt about it. Kubrick also makes us adhere his rhythm while watching his movies which I really really appreciate (which I also love in Tarkovsky's work.)

Okay, I remember seeing some parts of Star Wars on TV at some point, probably while doing chores or something inane. The things is, I never like blockbusters and almost all big studio sci-fi made after 1980. I'd see them at some point that was unavoidable but never really latched onto them.

I was shocked that sci-fi movies like Moon or Primer are even made anymore, that harken back to the 70s sci-fi when the story and the acting had to convince one that a separate world or reality existed. CGI doesn't do that. Big productions don't do that. The only one I can think of off hand would be 12 Monkeys, and even that had a greater appeal with story rather than expensive effects.

We do know that administrations and governments have tried to manufacture culture (I have a certain theory about an Irish band that came out of nowhere, with beautifully produced albums, during the Clinton backed negotiations between Ireland and Britain and the disbanding of the IRA.) It doesn't normally last very long and isn't sustainable. Were we being mullified and coddled with weak product during the 80s? Were we also being splintered by identifying with manufactured aesthetic choices which did not intersect? It sure seemed that way. The response was Grunge and Rap which wiped the manufactured 80s music, all of it, off the map. Cinematically though, there hasn't been the same recovery. And once again, we are suffering a musical doldrums of products (with all sorts of tie-ins) rather than songs or bands or musical ideas.

I listen to everything. Lately, I'm enthused by alternative bluegrass, of all things. If you have not listened to The Punch Brothers, I highly recommend them. Their mandolin player is a prodigy and a composer. Start with their song Another New World and move on to their interpretations of Debussy. I guaran-damn-tee you will get something out of it. They play with symphonies on the road, too. I've not heard anything like it before and they seem to be igniting a fire in bluegrass all over right now (though one could say that Alison Krauss was the primogenitor that made bluegrass cool to listen to again.)

plot said...

Oh one last thing. Don't discount TV shows out of hand. While the talent is being flushed out of US films, it's running instead to TV. One has to be picky. One has to find one's way through a shit-ton of shit (that audiences love but really aren't very good.) But it's there, in the corners, or gaining late stage audiences (like Breaking Bad and The Wire.) It's a weak moment right now because Netflix is putting out so much junk, true crap, by algorithm for audience touch points. But there is enough to sustain you produced from 1995 - 2010.

My only suggestion is to avoid Game of Thrones like the plague.

So happy your movie, The Shape of Water, was so successful at the Oscars. Will look into it.

Doug said...

@plot, thanks for the replies. Back atcha soon!

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