Sunday, August 03, 2008

Goodis Film Series Kicked Off

It's official! The David Goodis film series at BAM/PFA in Berkeley, CA has kicked off. The opening film, Dark Passage, was a stellar choice. It represents the highest point in Goodis's short-lived Hollywood career and, moreover, it's one of the few of the pulp author's works set outside of his native Philadelphia. This time 'round the exteriors were shot in nearby San Francisco, prominently featuring Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower, etc.

Introduced by Barry Gifford, the author/screenwriter brought Goodis to the masses via his Black Lizard publishing imprint. Gifford pulled some great quotes from Geoffrey O'Brien's words about Goodis to give the audience some insight on the elusive author. Gifford also gave a few anecdotes about David Lynch's reaction to Goodis's work ("Those books are too scary!") and Gerard Depardieu's remembrance of Moon in the Gutter ("Please don't mention this movie, it might give me another heart attack."). A very entertaining/off the cuff beginning to the series.

Barry Gifford (Left) / Steve Seid (Right)
Barry Gifford (Left) with programmer Steve Seid (Right)

Both Dark Passage and The Unfaithful (co-adapted by Goodis as one of his few completed Hollywood gigs) were lovely prints straight from the Warner Brothers vaults. Likewise, the print of Shoot the Piano Player was absolutely spotless, a brand new strike from Janus. This is a real testament to programmer Steve Seid's dedication to quality when putting together this series. I've been talking with Seid for a few months now via email. He's been tirelessly researching and tracking down prints for this month-long extravaganza.

Saturday evening Steve took Andrea and I out to dinner in downtown Berkeley at a great Cajun place.

I'd never been to Berkeley before. From what I heard, I expected that the streets would be knee-deep in crusty hippies. Luckily, that wasn't the case. There were a few odd birds, to be sure, but the atmosphere that of a pleasant college town during the doldrums of summer. The weather couldn't have been better in Berkeley or San Francisco (where we spent our days). For some photos from our trip, click here (only visible to facebook members).

I was nervous as hell before my introduction -- and a bit during. The turn-out for Saturday's screening of Shoot the Piano Player was terrific. It was a packed house. I didn't want to read what I'd written about the film nor did I want to sound completely unprepared. I wanted to end up somewhere in the middle, allowing my enthusiasm for the film and Goodis to come across. Apparently I did an okay job, though Andrea tells me that I said "Um" a lot. I didn't go into the idea of adaptation at all, though I wanted to bring up how much the Fido character rings untrue compared to the Goodis book.

Overall, I think I did a fair job for my first proper film introduction. I hope that I've asked to do more as the years wear on.

There's a lovely write-up on the series and an interview with Steve available at Michael Guillen's The Evening Class blog.


Jeff said...

Mike, I caught your intro the other day and I'll just say that you did a great job. As someone who isn't really familaiar with Goodis, I was inclined to check it out based on your recommendation alone. I enjoyed it, and wish I had more time to check out the other films in the series.

Mike White said...

Thank you for the kind words! Glad that I could help spread the gospel of Goodis!

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