Lest We Forget....

This week the President of the United States, while discussing immigration from Haiti and Africa, questioned why the US would want people from "shithole" countries.

Which got me thinking.

The President (and readers of this blog?) may not realize that there are numerous motion pictures that would not exist, but for authors from “shithole” countries.

Two examples from one author?

The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo were both written by Alexandre Dumas (pictured below), who lived in France, but whose background might, even today, help explain what it means to be Haitian. 

Many people may not realize that Alexandre Dumas’ father, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie (pictured below), was a black man and war hero, born in 1762 in the French colony of Saint-Domingue - present-day Haiti.

Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie's parents were Alexandre Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, a French nobleman and Marie-Cessette Dumas, who a contemporaneous letter says was purchased from a Monsieur de Mirribielle “at an exorbitant price," and then years later, sold, along with her two daughters, "to a... baron from Nantes". 

Just to make my point crystal clear, the man who wrote “All for One and One for All” was the grandson of a slave - and his father (one of many from his homeland who have served proudly in the military, but who, to my knowledge remains the highest-ranking man of African descent ever to serve in a European army) was Haitian.

Note: The poster for The Three Musketeers silent film above is from the 1921 version, that starred Douglas Fairbanks and Adolphe Menjou. If you enjoyed A Hard Day's Night (1964), you might want to see how director Richard Lester handled the same basic story in 1973, with stars like Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch, and Richard Chamberlain. The Count of Monte Cristo has also been remade many times as a motion picture. The 1934 version with Robert Donat as Edmund Dantes (poster above), made a big impression on me when I was a kid. But in hindsight, it's not a fully satisfying retelling of that great story. I didn't think the 2002 Hollywood version, directed by Kevin Reynolds and starring Jim Caviezel, got it right either. Perhaps versions I have yet to watch, like a futuristic retelling in anime, Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (2004), or a reputedly more faithful 1998 French TV mini-series version, starring Gérard Depardieu and a raft of great French actors, or a (hard-to-find?) BBC miniseries version from 1964 starring Alan Badel might offer better options. 

Love and the Producer: Big Money From Interactive Storytelling That Targets a Key Demographic in China - Young Women

The future of interactive storytelling might be emerging right now in China via a (new at the end of Dec. 2017) romantic mobile game.

"Love and the Producer" takes all those Western dystopian fantasies about men dating shapely androids and turns them on their head - by making the female(!) player in this relationship game an ambitious executive with 4 comely men to keep on a string as she tries to build her TV production company.

And the real world cash being collected - mostly apparently from young female players - of 恋与制作人 ("Love and the Producer") is rumored to be approaching successful indie film levels - and growing. 

That massive popularity, its appeal to young women, and the way "Love and the Producer" is straying into areas once reserved for films and TV series, might suggest that this Chinese sensation deserves a look from future motion picture makers.

Without delving too deeply into the gameplay: "Love and the Producer" unfolds as the tale of MC - a female TV producer - who must pay attention to several story threads, with each player trying to level up as MC.


1) A business storyline, that concerns MC trying to make her media production company successful through canny hiring, etc.

2) A love storyline, that requires collecting different cards from 4 dreamy guys.

3) And a supernatural powers storyline (with the superpowers known as evol), with each of the 4 guys having a unique power.

According to TheBeijinger.com, "The game, which went live on all platforms on December 20, [2017] is expected to pocket RMB 50 million (USD 7.6 million) in revenue during its first month."

Also, it's kind of hot:

New Lawrence of Arabia (1962) 70mm Print Screening in LA

According to a Dec. 4, 2017 article in the LA Times, the American Cinematheque will screen a new 70 mm print of “Lawrence of Arabia” in Los Angeles. 

The first run will be at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood from Dec. 15-30, 2017. After that, the film will screen at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. 

Has China Stopped Returning Hollywood's Calls?

Just as suddenly as it heated up, Chinese investment in Hollywood has cooled off.

The demise of the deals that Hollywood had depended on is roiling the major studios and other show business related deals in Hollywood.

For example, as reported in a Nov. 12th, 2017 LA Times article, Paramount Pictures had announced in January 2017 that Bejing's Huahua Media was going to to invest $1 billion in Paramount’s movies. That deal is now not going to happen - thanks to the "Chinese government’s clampdown on foreign investment in entertainment and other industries" outside China.

And, in October of 2017, Athens Group, the US development partner working with Beijing's troubled entertainment biz giant Dalian Wanda Group, officially called it quits on a $1.2 billion development project that would have provided new hotel rooms and condos in pricey Beverly Hills. Wanda Group had been on an "overseas buying spree" including major investments in Hollywood real estate while promising to pour money into production companies like Legendary - but now that Chinese firm's ability to obtain financing has been called into question.

Randy Finch's Film Blog:

Thoughts from a film producer about making and distributing films.