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PCR #478 (Vol. 10, No. 21). This edition is for the week of May 18--24, 2009.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Short and sweet this week. Shall we begin?

"Terminator Salvation"  by Mike Smith
Standing in the Lonely Light of the Silver Moon  by ED Tucker
Around The Watercooler .... Universal Healthcare Is No Longer A Conspiracy .... Medicare & Social Security Going Bankrupt…fast .... Enemy Of The State: Rick Scott .... Montana Breaking Free .... Gps Tracking .... ....  by Brandon Jones
I Did Not Know That .... Do Be Do Be Do .... Now What? .... .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2...  by Mike Smith
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Apparently it's true...you do learn something new every day. This evening, while watching "Planet of the Apes," 20th Century Fox honcho Tom Rothman gave a short into, explaining the evolution of the film. I was shocked to learn that, as proposed in 1963, the film was set to star Paul Newman. However, it took several years to get interest in the project and by 1966 Newman was off doing something else. The more I think about it and as much as I loved Paul Newman as an actor, I just can't see him as Taylor. And this blurb makes a great seque' to this weeks "My Favorite Film" as "Phantom of the Paradise" star Jessica Harper is married to Tom Rothman.

Martin Scorsese has announced plans to direct a biographical film about old blue eyes himself, Mr. Francis Albert Sinatra. No word yet on who would play the Chairman of the Board.

A tip of the hat to Wood Dickinson, former movie theatre mogul and now successful film maker, for forwarding this to me. I can only scratch my head at the thought of our government allowing this to happen. This letter comes from a Dodge dealer in Florida and I'm sure it is the same story for many of the dealerships, both Chrysler and GMC, that are being forced to give up their livelihoods so that the parent company can prosper.

My name is George C. Joseph. I am the sole owner of Sunshine Dodge-Isuzu, a family owned and operated business in Melbourne, Florida. My family bought and paid for this automobile franchise 35 years ago in 1974. I am the second generation to manage this business.

We currently employ 50+ people and before the economic slowdown we employed over 70 local people. We are active in the community and the local chamber of commerce. We deal with several dozen local vendors on a day to day basis and many more during a month. All depend on our business for part of their livelihood. We are financially strong with great respect in the market place and community. We have strong local presence and stability.

I work every day the store is open, nine to ten hours a day. I know most of our customers and all our employees. Sunshine Dodge is my life.

On Thursday, May 14, 2009 I was notified that my Dodge franchise, that we purchased, will be taken away from my family on June 9, 2009 without compensation and given to another dealer at no cost to them. My new vehicle inventory consists of 125 vehicles with a financed balance of 3 million dollars. This inventory becomes impossible to sell with no factory incentives beyond June 9, 2009. Without the Dodge franchise we can no longer sell a new Dodge as “new,” nor will we be able to do any warranty service work. Additionally, my Dodge parts inventory, (approximately $300,000.) is virtually worthless without the ability to perform warranty service. There is no offer from Chrysler to buy back the vehicles or parts inventory.

Our facility was recently totally renovated at Chrysler’s insistence, incurring a multi-million dollar debt in the form of a mortgage at Sun Trust Bank.



This is beyond imagination! My business is being stolen from me through NO FAULT OF OUR OWN. We did NOTHING wrong.

This atrocity will most likely force my family into bankruptcy. This will also cause our 50+ employees to be unemployed. How will they provide for their families? This is a total economic disaster.


I beseech your help, and look forward to your reply. Thank you.


George C. Joseph
President & Owner
Sunshine Dodge-Isuzu


Phantom of the Paradise
Starring: Paul Williams, William Finley and Jessica Harper
Directed by: Brian De Palma

FIRST SEEN: Varsity Six Theatre, Tampa, Florida (midnight showing)

FAVORITE SCENE: Beef's "shocking" on stage performance
FAVORITE LINE: "The karma in here is so thick, you need an aqualung to breathe."


1975 Academy Award nomination for Best Music, Scoring Original Song Score and/or Adaptation

1975 Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score (Paul Williams)

1975 Writers Guild of America nomination for Best Comedy Written Directly For The Screen (Brian De Palma)

A rock and roll update of the classic "Phantom of the Opera," "Phantom of the Paradise" tells the story of three very different people. Winslow (William Finney), a composer who is trying to get his latest rock opus produced. Swan (Paul Williams), the greatest producer in music and the lovely Phoenix (Jessica Harper) whose voice inspires both men differently. Upon hearing Winslows' music, Swan signs him to a contract (in blood - "Tradition" he tells him) and then proceeds to steal the work and claim it as his. Winslow finds out about this and, while trying to reclaim his work, ends up getting his head caught in a record press, rendering him near death. After some recovery Winslow begins to "haunt" Swans newest attraction, a club called the Paradise. Another deal is made between the two men and auditions begin for Winslow's music. Both men are struck by the beautiful Phoenix, her voice reaching up to them. While Winslow demands that only she sing his songs, Swan has other groups in mind, including glam rocker Beef (Gerrit Graham). Unfortunately for everyone, Winslow has other plans.

There are two kinds of Brian De Palma films...very good or very bad. Really nothing in the middle. Yes, he likes bright colors. Yes he used to use split screen a lot. Yes he was often accused of cribbing from Alfred Hitchcock. In the early 80s there was a great "trailer" on Saturday Night Live for a film called "The Clams," which was a "Birds" rip off directed by De Palma. One section contained the narration "Once a year Brian De Palma rips the bones off a dead director and gives his wife a job." Funny? Yes. I have it on tape somewhere and sadly it's not available on Youtube. Trust me, it's good. Examples of very good De Palma films include: "Sisters," "Carrie," "Blow Out" and "The Untouchables." On the other side of the spectrum, you have "The Fury," "Bonfire of the Vanaties" and "Mission to Mars." But hey, the man gets work and that's all that matters.

The two people that really impressed me here are Williams and Harper. At the time I saw the film, he was best known to me for two things: winning an Oscar for co-writing the song "Evergreen" from "A Star Is Born" and then appearing later that year on screen as Little Enos in "Smokey and the Bandit."
The only film I could remember seeing Harper in was "Suspira," a very bloody horror film that still today rates as one of my favorites. Of course, in my curiousity I tried to find other things concerning these talents and I discovered that Williams had helped write many popular songs of my youth. Harper was harder to find. Of course, there was no home video at that time so you couldn't go "rent" anything. I did see her in the X-rated film "Inserts," an older film that was reissued to take advantage of the popularity of Richard Dreyfuss. And before your eyes pop out, it was rated X the same way "Midnight Cowboy" was originally rated X - subject matter, nothing graphic.

As for where they are now, here is a rundown of the principals involved with "Phantom of the Paradise." Director De Palma is currently attached to both an "Untouchables" prequel dealing with the early days of Al Capone and a possible remake of "Phantom." Williams is still working on a musical based on the television show "Happy Days." If you haven't given it a look, I consider my interview with Mr. Williams one of the best I've ever done. Please give it a read:


William Finley, who had worked with De Palma before "Phantom" in "Sisters" and afterwards in "The Fury" and "Dressed To Kill" semi retired in the early 1980s. He made a few sporadic television appearances and then nothing until he showed up in De Palma's very, VERY good film, "Black Dahlia." Gerrit Graham still shows up on television from time to time. I featured him in my "Whatever Happened To" series in 2006 so give it a read if you'd like:


The biggest mystery to me is Jessica Harper. She went on to a very distinct career, including taking over for Susan Sarandon as Janet Majors in the "Rocky Horror" sequel "Shock Treatment" and a very funny turn in "My Favorite Year." Then she pretty much disappeared, appearing occasionally on television. Well, the mystery was solved a few months ago when the Fox Movie Channel ran "Phantom of the Paradise." Fox honcho Tom Rothman introduced the film as always and then asked if anyone had ever wondered what had happened to the lovely Phoenix. It turns out that she had married HIM! She also writes children's books and records children's CDs. Nice to know she did well for herself.

Next week we look at one of the highest grossing films of 1976, Richard Donner's "The Omen."

Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith.  Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.