Sunday, July 30, 2006

Some Bava Surprises

Bava Surprise #1: Charlie Largent was driving along Sunset Blvd. the other day and happened to notice an interesting advertisement on the horizon. Fortunately, he had his digital camera with him. Click to enlarge. Only in Hollywood!

Bava Surprise #2: Happy Birthday #92 to Mario Bava!

I know what you're thinking. "Wait a minute, Tim's jumping the gun! Bava's birthday isn't until tomorrow, the 31st! All the references -- beginning with the L'ECRAN FANTASTIQUE mimeographed filmography that was the first document published on the subject of Bava's career, and the FILM DOPE filmography which was the first in English, and even the IMDb -- say so!"

Well, that's the essence of my surprise: They're all wrong.

According to the birth and death dates placed on Bava's grave marker by his family, his true date of birth was July 30, 1914 -- one day earlier than has been reported till now. He also died one day earlier than most sources claim, on April 25 (which is two days earlier than some sources, like the IMDb, claim). Every book about Bava published to date (two in France, one in Italy, and one in America) has misreported these important dates, and so have countless fanzines, pamphlets, booklets, dictionaries and encyclopedias of film. MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK will be the first reference to report them accurately, and a photograph of his final resting place will also be included.

I had planned to reserve this surprise for the book, but I wanted to acknowledge this special day and couldn't do so sincerely a day late. So, with the book now fairly close to going to the printer, why not let the cat out of the bag?

Buon' compleanno, Maestro!

More cats still to come.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

On Schedule

Late last night, Donna succeeded in finishing her work on the main body of the book -- that is, importing and fine-tuning all the illustrations (over a thousand), designing the chapter heads, flowing and tightening the text, and getting everything ready for my last read-through. This portion clocked in at 1,012 pages.

Today we delve into the front and back matter, which we're hoping to finish by early next week.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Nearly There

Donna's been making great progress and expects to finish her work on the main body of the book tonight or tomorrow. This weekend, we will finally delve into the layout of the book's front and back matter. This should be a breeze because I want to emphasize full-page knockouts in the front, and the back matter (filmographies, videography, discography, index, etc) will be sparsely illustrated at best. As Donna perfects these layouts, I'll be reading through the last 700-or-so pages a final time and passing my red-inked corrections back to Donna. Once she implements those changes, which we expect to be minimal, the book will be ready for the printer.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Thirty Years Ago Today, and Also Today

Thirty years ago today -- on July 13, 1975 -- my friend Brian Gordon and I drove north to Dayton, Ohio, where we got to meet and interview Vincent Price. We corresponded in later years, but it was the only time I ever met the great man, and that epithet truly applied.

We got to see him interact with his (much younger) fellow cast members in a Kenley Players production of DAMN YANKEES, rehearse a song-and-dance number, and spend half-an-hour with him all to ourselves in his dressing room. He held my cheap little tape recorder as he spoke into it. I had him sign his chapter page in my copy of Calvin Beck's HEROES OF THE HORRORS, which he perused with some interest while asking if it was the best book of its kind. Being young and insensitive and all the other things you are when you're only 20, I told him it was certainly one of the best, but that I mostly wanted him to sign it because, of all the greats discussed in it, he was the only one who was "still around." He teased me back, saying that he would be happy to sign it, "even though that isn't the best reason you could have given me!" When he handed the book back, I saw that he inscribed it "To Tim, from someone who is 'still around' and hopes to be for some time -- Vincent Price."

I just now pulled the book down from its shelf and looked at that page again, with his inscription under the printed legend "Vincent Price, 1911 - ." It touches my heart.

What makes this three-decade-old meeting relevant to this blog is that my Q&A with Vincent Price was the very first interview I conducted for MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK. It was not yet a book in my thoughts, just a career article for CINEFANTASTIQUE. We spoke of his work on DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRL BOMBS, obviously -- "Terrible!" he exclaimed. "I absolutely eliminate the entire memory of that picture!" -- not a promising way to start what I hoped would be a revealing interview, but what he gave me was certainly good enough. We also talked a bit about another pet interest of mine, Michael Reeves and WITCHFINDER GENERAL, about which he was far more enthusiastic (as was I). I wish that Vincent and his fellow interviewee Deke Heyward were "still around" so that they could see what I've done with the DR. GOLDFOOT chapter; I think they'd be a little prouder of the picture after reading it and, I would hope, proud of me.

I have a picture that Brian took of Vincent and me that day, and if I can manage to get it scanned in the next day or two, I'll add it to this post. Check back -- but I have to post this now, or the anniversary will be over!

We've had a couple of e-mails reminding us that it's been a month already since the last update. Nothing particularly new to report except that we're still on schedule. Donna's halfway through the task of dropping the digitally restored images into the layout, and I'm giving the chapters one last read-through -- for the first time on actual size pages. They're in black-and-white, but to read the book for the first time at this size, with the text married to a finished layout, has been an unexpectedly moving experience. I said this over on Video WatchBlog already, but reading the book gives me the feeling of watching an epic film on a big, enveloping screen.

Donna moaned and groaned throughout the months she spent proofing and standardizing the text, but now that she's immersed in work that's more akin to her usual VW duties (but on a more ambitious scale), she's in her element and excited about what she's turning out.

Needless to say, I am too.