Criss Cross~ Classic Film Noir Starring Burt Lancaster & Yvonne DeCarlo

Criss Cross is undoubtedly one of the great classics of film noir, incorporating all the elements that comprise the genre-lighting,flashbacks, a heist, double crossing femme fatal etc. It is an early role for Burt Lancaster and Yvonne DeCarlo (who is best known to baby boomers for her role as Lili Munster). It is an even earlier role for Tony Curtis, who was cast as an extra (and can be seen briefly, dancing with DeCarlo in above clip). The music in this segment is provided by Cuban Flautist Esy Morales, performing Jungle Fantasy (in a rare on screen appearance). The song itself was a minor hit in the late forties and part of my record collection since I was nine years old. It can be heard on my Vinyl Meltdown Podcast Episode #16 “Jazz Impressions Of Film Noir“.

Criss Cross Poster

Babs Gonzales~I Paid My Dues

Babs Gonzales_I Paid My Dues

“I Paid My Dues”, the long out-of print memoir of jazz singer Babs Gonzales, chronicles the hijinx of Manhattan during the BeBop era, full of colorful and Real characters, musicians, bookies, pimps, hookers, and The Man. It took me several years(pre Ebay) to find a copy, and it was well worth the wait.

Sweet Smell Of Success

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One of my favorite films of the 50’s- You can’t beat the dialogue,acting, and location shots. Also an amazing Jazz score featuring Chico Hamilton (who also appears on screen).
Sweet Smell of Success is a 1957 American film noir , directed by Alexander Mackendrick ,starring Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison and Martin Milner. The screenplay was by Clifford Odets, Ernest Lehman and Alexander Mackendrick from the novelette by Lehman. The film tells the story of a powerful newspaper columnist named J.J. Hunsecker (Lancaster) who uses his connections to ruin his sister’s relationship with a man he deems inappropriate. Lancaster’s role is based on famed New York columnist Walter Winchell. Soundtrack composed by Elmer Bernstein

Phnom Penh Central Market ~ Cambodia


In 2000, I was brought to Phnom Penn on an music production assignment for the film “City Of Ghosts“, starring Matt Dillon. Unfortunately, I was unable to visit Angkor Wat while I was there, but I was still quite awestruck by a lot of the French Colonial architecture, and most in particularly the art deco central market building. Although not viewable in this photo, there is a strange weathered, almost mildew-like patina covering the exterior that makes the entire structure appear haunted and alien, like some sort of abandoned space station from a 1930’s Buck Rogers movie.

Fake Chinese Phonograph, Rare Authentic Chinese Victor Label (1904)

Fake Chinese Victrola

During my first visit to Shanghai, I was delighted to discover the antiques row in the old section of town (Fang Bang Road & Zhizhong Lu) while out for an afternnon bicycle ride. At first glimpse, it appeared to be a motherlode of curios and collectibles, ranging from fifty to thousands of years old. Needless to say, it didn’t take much time to figure out that a great many of these items were “genuine fake antiques”, yet Very convincing to the layperson. There seemed to be an abundancy of turn of the century wind up Victrola phonographs with morning glory horns, obviously fake to the trained eye. I have seen these before, usually in bad antique mall places in the U.S., where it is common for even the vendor to believe it is the genuine article. My phonograph collector buddies refer to these machines as Frankenphones, because they are slapped together out of some original parts, mixed with bad reproduction parts, and cabinetry built by children in India. Some of these machines are complete reproductions altogether. 

When I returned from my bike ride, I got on the internet and began researching Chinese Victrolas, just to see if there were any authentic examples. What I found was a site page (My Old Phonograph Site) dedicated to  these counterfeit machines and how to properly recognize the flaws as to avoid being suckered.
My research led me further , to a site (
The Mainspring Press) where I found this rare Chinese Victor Label circa 1904, depicting an indigenous Chinese man listening to a phonograph, rather than the traditional logo with company mascot Nipper The Dog. This was a very short lived series, and the content was not actually recorded by the Victor company, but rather licensed from the Zonophone record/phonograph company. 

Chinese Victor Label 1904