Victor Gotti, Hank Donat, and
Rolando Gotti share memories of Hitchcock and Ernie's with TCM.
back at SF films, 'forwardly' at Hitchcock
A crew from Turner
Classic Movies was in town this week, tracing the footsteps of Alfred
Hitchcock and other great directors who knew a jewel when they saw
one. A giant diamond was the McGuffin of Hitchcock's final film, Family
Plot, but this time the City itself is the gem under the lights and
"Footsteps in Fog" authors Jeff Kraft and Aaron Leventhal provided
a tour of Hitchcock locations. Film Commissioner Stephanie Coyote
offered details on the ins and outs of making cinema in the City.
For locals, an important aspect of Turner's upcoming documentary is
an interview with brothers Roland and Victor Gotti of the defunct
Ernie's supper club.
Ample choruses of ohhs and ahhs rang out as the brothers displayed
personal letters from Hitchcock in which the director shows a surprising
sense of humor. In them, Hitchcock wonders whether Ernie's clientele
can appreciate fine wines and says the last birthday he celebrated
was his 39th, but "the numbers should be reversed." Hitchcock signed
off with great warmth. "Yours looking forwardly," the great director
Victor Gotti says a new owner would like to move forward with plans
to develop the former Ernie's location at 845 Montgomery Street as
condos. Gotti hears there may be "something red" in the lobby there
by which to remember the legendary supper club.
Those aesthetic tokens of esteem for bygone institutions are always
met with mixed reviews. You can tear down a theatre to build lofts
and call them "The Theatre Lofts," but you're not fooling anybody.
The unfinished marquee on the site of the Royal Theatre at Polk and
California streets, which will also become condos, is a monstrosity
in the making.
One summer film that does not feature a San Francisco skyline, neither
with nor without the Transamerica Pyramid deleted via Hollywood magic,
is the comedy retelling of TV's Bewitched. A Chronicle writer incorrectly
reported that an altered City skyline appears, inspiring a second
Chronicle writer to discuss the impact of registering City landmarks
as corporate trademarks. Only problem is, it just isn't true. The
first writer also reported that Nicole Kidman carries a copy of Po
Bronson's, "What Should I do with My Life?" through "half of the movie."
Alas, that is also not true.
Milliner turned theatrical producer Ruth Garland-Dewson, the Mayor
of Fillmore Street, promised a musical with "hattitude" before presenting
the opening of Crowns at the Marine's Memorial Theatre, and did she
ever deliver. The play by Regina Taylor tells the stories of several
generations of black women and the hats they wear to church on Sunday.
Broadway vet Sheila Ellis inherited some such crowns from her mother.
It's obvious that she knows what she's singing about. Michelle E.
Jordan, Tiffany Thompson, Clinton Derricks-Carrol, and C. Kelly Wright
round out the cast along with scene stealer Margarette Robinson. The
opening night ovation was a standing one, but don't take my word for
it. Catch Crowns while it flies.
The latest jewel in San Francisco's crown of beautiful places is the
public park at director George Lucas' new Letterman Digital Arts compound
in the Presidio. Take everything you've heard and double it. This
park, replete with babbling brook, graceful arches, and views of the
Palace of Fine Arts and Golden Gate Bridge, is a stunner.
On a tour of the Lucas campus, I encountered a senior lady cooling
her toes on Lucas' lawn. "Isn't this a beautiful park?" she asked
of her companion, "He didn't have to do all this." She was obviously
a tourist, for any local knows that if you want to build your office
in the middle of a national park in San Francisco, yes, that is what
you have to do. And so Lucas did, and now San Francisco has a new
My seven year-old nephew is going to love the Yoda statue and fountain
located in the heart of the former Letterman Hospital site. I'm not
skilled in the ways of the Jedi, but I know the difference between
a beautiful sculpture and the hunk of junk that was foisted on Salem,
Massachusetts by the TV Land network as part of the run up to the
aforementioned Bewitched flick.
In closing, Michael Strickland is a local who also likes to share
what he sees with his eyes and through his camera lense. Strickland's
favorite subject is his Civic Center neighborhood. The photoblogger
sheds some light on one corner of the City that's often overlooked
as nothing more than a place for opera openings, political demonstrations,
and state visits. Of course Civic Center is much more than that. Check
out Strickland's effort at sfcivicenter.blogspot.com.
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