In Like Errol Flynn


Or … Basking in the Shadow of the Big O

Ahoy film nerds and nerdettes from the starboard side of the Zaca, a glamorous 118-foot nautical Star Destroyer merrily anchored off Sausalito Bay this first full week of May. Formerly the oceanic pleasure-cruiser of legendary actor/swashbuckler/hedonist Errol Flynn, the Zaca was the featured vessel in the 1948 SF film-noir classic The Lady From Shanghai and is currently this stowaway’s salt-water refuge from the smelly batch of Cleveland Steamers now playing at your local Movie-Plex.

Don’t ask how I finagled my way aboard; just know it involved a treacherous swim from shore and a vague promise to a daft heiress to scrape the barnacles off her dingy. Hay-O!*

In the Wake of the U.S.S. Spidertanic
If you’ve been paying attention to Hooker’s Reel, then you should know the essence of my film ethos: If there ain’t a noteworthy new release on the silver screen, this old scallywag ain’t bitin. True to form in the rippling wake of Sony’s U.S.S. Spidertanic, this self-appointed Chicken-of-the-Sea is going “retro” Tuesday yet again.

Call me a film snot with an itchy gag-reflex but I’m sticking with the old adage Superhero yarns have: a) a real villain (not 3 semi-villains); and b) a real plot (not 3 semi-plots). So while the studios gear up to unleash the second of 3 Early Summer Barnburners, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, I hope none of you chums are baited into throwing your lines into even murkier cinematic waters.

Cinema Steamer Alert
No one’s going to fault you for taking a cruise on the U.S.S. Spidertanic, but if you’re somehow enticed into hooking into new releases like Lucky You, 28 Weeks Later, Delta Farce, Georgia Rule and The Ex, don’t say I didn’t warn you to “catch and release.” There are other sardines in the sea.

courtesy of

Away From Her

For those who can’t get enough hot-and-heavy tear-stained Terms of Endearment back-row action with your fresh squeeze, I suggest you check out Sarah Polley’s directorial debut Away From Her. It’s a worthy nibble that’s getting great buzz, but be warned fun time hipsters: This film contains serious subject matter (Julie Christie with early Alzheimer’s) so, dig in with an absorbent hanky if that’s your cup of tea.

The Mechanics’ Institute
For the rest of you heartless swine, consider taking the road-less-traveled down to the Mechanics’ Institute (this Friday) to bask in the black-and-white glow of Orson Welles’ lost masterpiece Chimes at Midnight. Lucky cinephiles will be surprised to discover two historic gems in one secret location (57 Post St. near Market).

And get this. The seldom-publicized M.I. film series begins with a local film critic intro and ends with a “salon” discussion. When does that happen anymore? Although they aren’t crazy enough (yet) to let me behind the podium, MRF will be in the house this Friday. Why? ’Cause I’m an Orson Welles fanatic … and the café/theater serves beer with their popcorn.

courtesy of Alpine Films

Chimes at Midnight
Twenty-five years after Citizen Kane, Welles turned in one of his lesser-known masterpieces, Chimes at Midnight, a creative blend of five Shakespeare plays: Henry IV Part I and Part II, Richard III, Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor. I know … after hearing the S-Word (Shakespeare) some of you are already turning me off for or the, but hear me out minnows. Chimes at Midnight is arguably one of the greatest Indy films of all time, from the greatest Indy director of all time … What’s not to like?

Rife with feeling, chock full o’ visual poetry, Chimes examines the friendship between John Falstaff (Welles) who Orson said was “the only ‘good’ character Shakespeare ever wrote” and young Prince Hal. Apart from Welles’ performance, arguably his greatest onscreen, is the innovative way Welles weaves five Shakespeare plays into one while focusing the story on one of the most likeable (and famous) supporting character in all of fiction (Falstaff).

Guaranteed, Tarantino, Raimi, Fincher and Soderbergh would all bag on the opening of their next films to see Chimes on the big screen. So what’s your problem? What card-carrying cinephile turns down a chance to witness the bearded Big O in his greatest film performance ever? Not this film nerd, see you down there if you’ve got the chops …

Till next time, be bad and get into trouble, baby.*

“Hip Happenings” Round Town
•    Through (5/10) – 2007 S.F. International Film Festival – Castro Theater
•    Through (5/10) – Civic Duty (2007), Dir. Renfro – Bridge
•    Friday (5/11) – Chimes at Midnight (1967), Dir. Welles – Mechanics Institute
•    Black Book (2007), Dir. Verhoeven – Embarcadero
•    Year of the Dog (2007), Dir. White – Embarcadero
•    The Namesake (2007), Dir. Nair – Embarcadero

Volume 7 Footnotes
•    “Scrape the barnacles off your dingy. Hay-O!” The Tonight Show: Johnny Carson (as Carnac the Great) smugly makes one of his pat predictions to a “Hay-O’ing!” Ed McMahon.
•     “Let’s get into trouble, baby.” – Tapeheads (1988): Soul Train host Don Cornelius (as Hollywood Producer Mo Fuzz) to upstart filmmakers Tim Robbins and John Cusack.

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