Tuesday, February 21, 2012


(October 1995, U.S.)

In between URBAN COWBOY (1980) and PULP FICTION (1994), can anybody really remember one damn thing John Travolta did with his career? Sure, he worked, but what of it was really memorable? LOOK WHO'S TALKING sequels?? Gimme a fucking break! But anyone who's followed his career and that of film in general knows that PULP FICTION turned everything around for him and much of what he did following put him back on top again. GET SHORTY, a crime/comedy film based on Elmore Leonard's novel is a perfect vehicle for Travolta's attitude and gives him the opportunity to bring a blend of comedic timing and dialogue along with the traditional cliche of the Mafia "tough guy".

So, here we have the story of Miami loanshark Chili Palmer (Travolta) who comes to Los Angeles to collect on a gambling debt from hack film producer Harry Zimm (played by the great Gene Hackman). Chili just also happens to be a great lover of film, so his transition into L.A. culture (as fucked up as it is!) seems perfectly comfortable for him. And as we likely suspected, the movie business is about as cut-throat as the Mafia business. The egoes, the self-promotions and the pompous demeanors are pretty much equal to that of the Mafia hard asses, as well. Danny DeVito as movie star big shot Martin Weir seems the perfect poster boy (and a very SHORT one, too!) for the rich and famous who are so caught up in the bullshit world of "La-La Land" and seduced by their own pathetic personalities to have any clue (or even care) about the real world around them. Horror movie actress Karen Flores (played by Rene Russo) clearly points out that movie stars have no idea what things cost and never pick up the check at lunch. I believe it! And speaking of Rene Russo...well, let's just say in the older women department, I consider her quite a gorgeous piece of ass...at least I did once.

Back in the 1990s, before marriage and a child, I was hell-bent on trying to get into the movie business with my screenwriting. It's not a dream that's totally dead, mind you, but like I said...marriage and a child. Anyway, I was writing my scripts and trying to promote myself as an unknown writer to the best of my abilities. Watching GET SHORTY at my local multiplex seemed to give me enthusiasm and discouragement at the same time for attacking my dream. The movie business is cold and cruel and will eat you up to the bone if you're not prepared. However, if you have the strength and attitude of someone like Chili Palmer, then you know how to take and it and strike back so it'll work for you and do what you say. That's probably why I love the character so much. And hey, any loanshark who loves Orson Welles' TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) can't be all that bad, can he? I should also point out that back in the 1990s I was flying to Los Angeles often to see my family and found after about five or six visits just how predictably-off-the-wall-phoney the town of L.A. was. I used to tell people that Los Angeles residents wouldn't survive one week on the streets of New York City!

Favorite line or dialogue:

Bo Catlett: "It says here you're getting Martin Weir for the part of Lovejoy?"
Chili Palmer: "That's right, we're getting Martin."
Bo: "Come on, how you gonna do that?"
Chili: "I'm gonna take a gun, I'm gonna put it to his head, and say, "sign the fucking papers, Martin, or you're dead." That's it."
Bo: "I wonder, would that work?"


  1. Having grown up here in La La land, I can say that this movie is pretty much on target when it comes to the Hollywood/Westside culture. Travolta is perfect as the mob guy who really wants to make movies. You might notice at the end however that he ends up with the same creative constipation that everyone else has. Gene Hackman is my favorite actor ever, and his Harry Zimm is so like many of the b.s. artists out here it is scary.

    Karen: "I'll think about it" means nothing in L.A...

  2. Hope you didn't take too much offense at my blasting L.A. You're free to take shots at Long Island, should you visit. We don't make nearly as many movies in the Hamptons as we should.