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QT5-inspired obsessive cinema dementia; our community suffers another blow with the loss of Mambo John Treanor

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Standing in the Jester Center projection room more than 20 years ago, explaining to a fellow graduate student and, as I recall, his wife, why I thought Russ Meyer edited like Sergei Eisenstein, I noticed partway into my rant that their eyes had gone dead. No matter what I said, they weren't going to hear a comparison of mammoth-tit master Meyer and Russian cinematic visionary genius Eisenstein. This wasn't even that radical an argument, since it was descriptive rather than qualitative. Eisenstein argued for creating meaning out of editorial juxtaposition. There was the shot, the establishing image, which was the thesis; there was the contradictory shot, which was the antithesis. Out of these two shots grew a made meaning, a synthesis, a screaming face and a stone lion. In Meyer's case, it might involve a naked woman wearing an ornate Indian headdress standing on a sofa in the middle of the desert juxtaposed with a more dramatic narrative shot taking place in a cabin, but the purpose was still the same. Later, I heard, the graduate student became a City Council member somewhere in California. I thought of this because of the great comfort of the current QT5 Fest. Here it is not just safe but almost necessary to be a film geek.

Quentin Tarantino, in association with the Harry Knowles-sponsored Saturday Morning Film Club, enthusiastically presented a kiddie-matinee double bill of William Witney's The Golden Stallion -- starring singing-cowboy star Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger, the Smartest Horse in the Movies -- and the Fleischer Brothers' animated Gulliver's Travels. I'd seen The Golden Stallion; QT had been raving about it so much that I asked his pal and assistant Julie McClean to make a video copy, which she kindly did. I liked it a lot, but I love B Westerns.

The New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell had been hanging out the night before, making fun of both Witney and The Golden Stallion. I share QT's enthusiasm for both, but not his exclusivity. I'm as fond of Gene Autry and Joe Kane, among others. But I enjoy Tarantino's passion and knowledge. Mitchell matched him, dismissing both film and director, but from a position of familiarity and not assumed contempt. Tarantino protested, defending the aesthetic. The next afternoon, the best part of the literate and, as always, knowledgeable Tarantino intro was his noting that he thought there was a resemblance between Trigger and Uma Thurman.

Watching it on the big screen I was struck by the terrible irony of the story. Roy wants to use Trigger so they can round up a herd of wild horses that freely roams across the U.S./Mexico border. The idea is to break them and sell them as cow ponies to save Dale Evans' family farm. The smugglers want to leave the horses wild so their racket can continue. All they do is mix in some tame, smuggled-diamonds-carrying horses and run them back across the border. I thought about this a lot, the difference in values and how we make meaning. It reminded me of Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op story "Corkscrew," where the consequence of the Op's actions is to destroy another little piece of the frontier.

Now ordinarily, I wouldn't share these thoughts about a singing-cowboy Roy Rogers Western co-starring a gifted horse. Folks' eyes would go dead. They would glaze over. But intoxicated by the atmosphere of Tarantino Fest, where simple film fans have been known to apologize for their lack of obsessive cinema dementia, I share the thought.


Jeff Whittington, David Boone, Robbie Jacks, Mambo John Treanor, I am at a loss for words. I knew Robbie not that well, but over a long period of time. Mambo John I met a only few times. The last was when Mambo and some band members came into the office to demand we stop running the photo of them with the ex-band member who had narc'ed them out. My heart is heavy, and we share the sadness of our community. end story

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Russ Meyer, Sergei Eisenstein, QT5 Fest, Quentin Tarantino, Saturday Morning Film Club, William Witney, Golden Stallion, Roy Rogers, Trigger, Fleischer Brothers, Gulliver's Travels, The Golden Stallion, Julie McClean, Elvis Mitchell, Gene Autry, Joe Kane, Uma Thurman, Dal

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