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Thursday, October 9, 2008

more from The Oily Years - with THANKS to The Swan Archives!

We do hope all of you feel you got to know us a little better - seeing a bit of our background in the Theater and learning the histories of some of the Gang at Madblood Manorette.. our Landlord troubles, our personal dreams and hopes so horribly dashed at every turn.. I'm still reeling from Brain's tap-dance routine - I had nearly forgotten that.. and the 'visit' from my long-lost Nanny really pulled at my heart-strings (I'm just wondering who was pulling that string on the Fran Drescher doll - it was getting out of hand, I thought)..

(She's going for over $75 on Ebay! No joking! Do I look like I'm joking?)

As always - in the heat of the moment - I, The Son of Madblood, am apt to loose my concentration and forget to focus on what's at hand. I get tongue-tied. I get shy. It's often that, by the end of the night's show, I realize that I've forgotten to say anything that I'd wanted to say about the movie we're watching. There's always so much happening that, when the moment comes that I've put aside for the task - opinions, facts and trivia all escape me and all I can think to say is "Enjoy the movie". I will try to get better at this as we go along - although I am not at all opposed to it being part of the "post-show festivities" - if only people would stick around for some of the "post-show festivities".. (What are the "post-show festivities"? Well - talking about the movie could be one of them!)

So - here are some "fun facts" and odds and ends in relation to our last movie
Phantom of the Paradise with THANKS to The Swan Archives and IMDB and also BAM for that screening with The Phantom, Beef, and producer Ed Pressman all in attendance (it was a blast - and packed):

*for all you locals: the fire-escape where Beef tries to sneak away is at BAM - you can see it from Hanson St.

*at various points in the film (at the airport press conference, for one) the Death Records logo can be seen superimposed over something else and you can kinda see something is under it: the original was a "Swan Song" logo - supposed to be Swan's all-encompassing empire of which Death Records was just a part - but Led Zep threatened to sue so they either edited around it, masked it out or superimposed over it

*an uncredited Rod Serling is the opening Narrator

*Sissy Spacek was the set decorator - she was dating the production designer, Jack Fisk - whom she would go on to marry.. Fisk would later suggest her to DePalma for the role of Carrie White (thank GOD!)

*DePalma originally wanted Paul Williams for the role of the Phantom/Winslow. Williams thought he wasn't scary enough for the part and lobbied for the Swan role so the Phantom went to long-time DePalma collaborator Finley (thank GOD!)

*Sha-Na-Na had been cast as The Juicy Fruits but they couldn't agree which one of them would have the "better" parts

*Linda Ronstadt was in consideration for the role of Pheonix! (I love L.R. - but her involvement in 1974 would've made this movie into something completely different). Even though Jessica Harper hadn't any movie experience DePalma thought she was right for the role. And it was this role that Dario Argento saw her in that led to her being the star of Suspiria! (Thank GOD!)

*"Swanage" interior was 'played' by the Greystone Mansion, Beverley Hills

* The Paradise was 'played' by the Majestic Theater, Dallas, Texas as well as a number of other Dallas locations: "Swanage" exteriors - Dallas County Courthouse; Death Records - the Zales Building, Dallas (now an oil company building - still EVIL!)

*the room-filling synthesizer we see the Phantom playing in the basement of the Paradise is a real, one-of-a-kind instrument called T.O.N.T.O. (for "The Original New Timbral Orchestra"). It can be heard - not only on albums by it's inventors under the name T.O.N.T.O.'s Expanding Head Band (oft heard during the pre-show Son of Madblood warm-up) - but also on records by such varied artists as Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Steven Stills, The Doobie Brothers, Little Feat, Joan Baez

*the Phantom's cape changes throughout the film, from a black silver-lined cape (used in the scene which was first shot, the rainy night on the roof of the Swanage), to a red satin cape, to a red velvet cape. This was at once budgetary - they'd get dirty and just grab something else - and also that Finley hated the black and silver cape because it was too cumbersome and reflected light everywhere

*the record press in which Winslow was disfigured was a real pressing plant - an injection-molding press at Ideal Toy Co. - it was fitted with foam pads with chocks put in the center to stop it from closing completely - great in concept but supposedly did not hold up to the pressure of the machine - it continued closing on Finley's head and he was barely able to get himself out just in time - giving forth with the scream heard in the film. According to Finley - this was the last scene they shot for the movie..

*there were actually Phantom of the Paradise dolls! Two versions: one screaming with a plunger and one grimacing with a knife.. Yours truly, The Son of Madblood, saw a bunch of people with these at the BAM screening - at which William Finley and Gerrit Graham both spoke and, boy did I want to steal somebody's..

*according to Gerrit Graham - the cocaine that Beef was busy snorting was nothing but dried lactose which he does not recommend as it tends to clump up in the nostrils and has to be snotted out

We do you hope enjoyed it - it's hardly scary but it makes up for that by being constantly creative and fun - it's so over the top that the real suspense is in never really being able to predict what it's next move may be. As camp it never becomes just shrill - it's campiness being imbued with a real sense of satire and, most of all, intelligence. It's other strength - and one of the important reasons it has resonance beyond just being a joke - is that it takes aspects of itself seriously - this becomes all the more apparent when you hear that DePalma's desire to make this movie came from being in an office elevator and hearing a favorite Beatles song regurgitated as muzak - that idea that something good and loved can still be turned to garbage by corporate America's desire for dollars is just as biting today....

(for some of the most interesting and thorough Phantom of the Paradise info visit the insanely in-depth and awesomely committed site: The Swan Archives! It's like a DisneyLand for movie-fans..well - Phantom fans - phans?..)


The Principal Archivist said...

Sounds like you must have found my site; since you quote from it so liberally, you might as well link to it. http://www.swanarchives.org

I am The Son of Madblood said...

Please see the newly updated post..

I did go on a shopping spree at your site - I hope you don't find offense - it was meant in good-will and in an EDUCATIONAL manner.. we have an entire audience here at Madblood Manorette of about 15 people at the most who (it seems) don't even keep up with what's going on this Mad-blog.. I was hoping it would help make the show we put on a more interactive experience for the few who do come on a regular basis..

much of the info I gleaned was stuff I already knew and had in my head (a lot from that BAM show they all attended - it was part of a Pressman series and they showed Sisters the same night - Margot Kidder was there as well! But the crowd for Phantom was actually the bigger of the two shows) but just organizing it was the most helpful and the stuff I hadn't heard was enough to keep me on for hours into the night..

Swan Archives is truly inspiring and quite a bit jealousy-inducing as well as being a lot of fun (and looks awesome)...

just for fun: we gave away 2 raffle prizes at the end of the show - the first winner was a Japanese kid of about 16 who was in town visiting a friend who brought him to the show - he got the soundtrack LP and was so happy I heard about it for days (translated).. the second winner got that lovely lobby card featuring Rainbeaux and Finley - I was quite sad to see it go - the record I feel is somewhat easier to replace - I probably won't stumble on one of those cards again so easily.. but, alas - I do so enjoy pleasing (and rewarding) what meager audience we do have..

how the heckle did you stumble in here?
(if ever in NYC - come visit the show! It's in my apartment)

Respectfully - the Son of Madblood.

Principal Archivist said...

Thanks for the kind words about the site; I've probably got an extra of that particular lobby card I could send you, if its loss has broken your heart.... And I appreciate your adding the link.

I am The Son of Madblood said...

Everybody - meet The Son of Madblood's new best friend.. (no offense to Igor - but, really - did you read that offer?)

Umm.. that's quite a tempting offer...