Jul 21, 2018

Mike's Murder

With the vogue Me Too movement—an insufferably gynocentric witchhunt fueled by female narcissism that at least, quite thankfully, resulted in the destruction of singularly grotesque zio-pig Harvey Weinstein—the general public was exposed to the obvious fact that many of the bigwigs and movers-and-shakers in Hollywood are sick sexual predators (though, only Larry David had the balls to note, on SNL of all places, that most of these ‘white’ men are actually Jewish). Rather disappointingly, only a couple queers, including Kevin Spacey, were exposed as predatory perverts. Of course, Hollywood has a history of homo harassment, as the casting couch apparently has just as many male victims as female ones and the predators are not always out-of-the-closet poofters like Judaic degenerate Bryan Singer. For example, as noted in Rainer Chlodwig von K.'s rather worthwhile tome Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies (2018), in 2012 a masseur sued John Travolta for $2 million after claiming that a $200-per-hour massage session concluded in a rather curious fashion with the Hollywood star stripping naked, rubbing the man's leg and then touching his cock. Notably, as a totally hilarious and equally incriminating segment of the suit reads, “Defendant began screaming at Plaintiff, telling Plaintiff how selfish he was; that Defendant got to where he is now due to sexual favors he had performed when he was in his WELCOME BACK, KOTTER days; and that Hollywood is controlled by homosexual Jewish men who expect favors in return for sexual activity [i.e., expect sex in return for favors]. Defendant then went on to say how he had done things in his past that would make most people throw up.” Naturally, it should be no surprise to anyone that is not mentally feeble that “Hollywood is controlled by homosexual Jewish men,” but apparently Tinseltown even has had a couple alleged gay goy predators, including Hollywood auteur James Bridges, who notably directed Travolta in a couple films, including the hit Urban Cowboy (1980) and the big turd Perfect (1985). 

 Apparently, Bridges hosted infamous sodomite sex parties which were stocked with underage boys and attended by big household names in the entertainment industry, or so it was revealed after The New York Police Department and District Attorney’s Office launched an investigation in 1975 dubbed ‘Operation Together’ which looked into the mafia control of gay bars and underage boy sex rings (incidentally, the central S&M gay bar depicted in Cruising (1980) was mob-owned, or so William Friedkin revealed in his memoir Friedkin Connection: A Memoir (2013)). As exposed by The Mafia and The Gays writer Phillip Crawford Jr.— a retired attorney from the New York bar and “whistle blower”—in an article at his blog Friends of Ours, “The retired officer with whom I spoke stated that that while working on Operation Together he spent a lot of time undercover as a gay clone in the city's bars and did substantial surveillance including out on Long Island and Fire Island. In the course of his investigation the NYPD officer advised me that he learned about sex parties with underage boys that allegedly were being hosted at a place on the Island by Hollywood film director and writer James Bridges. Bridges had been nominated for an Oscar for THE PAPER CHASE which was released in 1973, and later directed THE CHINA SYNDROME for which he also received an Oscar nomination, URBAN COWBOY and BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY. He died at the age of 57 in 1993 from kidney failure after a cancer diagnosis according to his family. The officer staked out Bridge's place, and the attendees were obviously underage boys and household names in the entertainment industry to whom he referred as ‘the child fuckers.’ James Bridges was not the only name with which I was provided by the retired officer.”  Not surprisingly, Bridges was never actually charged, let alone convicted, for his alleged cocksucker crimes, but at least one of his films hints at such behavior.

 Notably, although some of his films feature homoerotic imagery and gay subtexts, Bridges did not really contribute much to the history of queer cinema as he spent virtually his entire life in the closet, or as written in Images in the Dark: An Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Film and Video (1994), “An unusual inclusion in this listing of gay and lesbian directors, James Bridges’ (1935-93) filmography does not offer much evidence of queerness. As a matter of fact, with the exception of employing several gay stars in his films and the character of Mike in MIKE’S MURDER (who, despite the film’s title, was only a peripheral figure), there are no gay themes or characters, major or minor, in his films […] Interestingly, Bridges’ gayness was not publicly known until the publication of his obituary.” Indeed, while his vaguely semi-autobiographical film September 30, 1955 (1977) features a teen that strangely cares more about James Dean than having any sort of sexual contact with his bitchy girlfriend and Urban Cowboy includes its fair share of homoerotic imagery (namely, Travolta in cowboy garb and Scott Glenn sporting an ultra-faggy mesh shirt), Mike’s Murder (1984)—a rather seedy yet quite sui generis and tastefully directed piece of largely forgotten cult cinema—is the only Bridges film that seems to take delight into dipping into the cocaine-and-cock-fueled swamp of depravity of the gay underground and associated chic degenerate criminal scenes. By no means a masterpiece and probably 20 minutes too long, the film is exactly the sort of film that you might expect from a relatively powerful gay Hollywood filmmaker-cum-producer that wanted to create his own cryptically confessional auteur piece, albeit featuring a popular female lead so as to provide enough plausible deniability in regard to the filmmaker’s sexual orientation. Personally, I was not surprised to learn after watching the film that Bridges was involved in some seriously sick scenes, as the flick is unlike many others of the largely artificial Reaganite 1980s in terms of its authenticity in regard to depicting the radically repellent realm of coke-addled Dorian love debauchery.  A decided downer that never offers the the aid of comic relief from its fairly consistent paranoiac intensity, Mike's Murder is also a reminder the war on drugs is a sick and pathetic joke and many dumb queer addicts are paying the price while rich old horny queens are picking up the tab.

 As far as I am concerned, male bisexuality is mostly a myth propagated by self-loathing gays that have not fully made the plunge into pure and unadulterated puffery, decidedly debased gay-for-pay masochists, and sociopaths (who, lacking real emotional connections to other people, are known to be sexually flexible). In Mike’s Murder, the female heroine discovers the seemingly unthinkable in that the man she loves—a handsome and athletic fellow of the romantic and sexually potent sort—has not only fucked men, but he pimped himself out to a bitchy middle-aged negro queen. Indeed, the film tells the dejecting story of a likeable yet seemingly clueless chick with a girlish crush that discovers the rather repugnant hidden homo life of the man she thought she loved after he dies under quite brutal circumstances. While it is hard to know where exactly Bridges was coming from, the film sometimes feels like a mockery of women or, more specifically, a woman in love, as the hapless heroine suffers the great indignity of enduring the cold hard reality of her beau being not much more than a male bimbo boy toy for fags and dope fiends. Indeed, whereas Ken Russell’s masterful adaptation D. H. Lawrence Women in Love (1969) respectfully depicts the need of certain men to have the love of another man despite already having the love of a woman, Bridges’ film depicts a sexually nihilistic world where sex is not much more than a commodity and heterosexual love seems like an unhip anachronistic joke. But then again, Mike’s Murder is arguably best interpreted as an example of gay jealousy in regard to heterosexual love, which becomes most obvious in a scene where a bitchy black queen proudly expresses to the heroine his pangs of lovelorn cynicism for the dead man that both individuals love. 

Not exactly a hit when it was first released and barely a cult item today, Mike’s Murder is a film that I first discovered while reading an article about independent actress Kate Lyn Sheil of all places. Indeed, after making the mistake of sampling a couple Joe Swanberg films and related lame mumblecore crap, I discovered Sheil and felt she was cute in a sort of autistic introverted hipster bitch fashion, so I looked her up on the internet and discovered an article where Melissa Anderson of The Village Voice remarks in regard to the actress, “But thanks to friendships she made in 2005 during a brief stint working at Mondo Kim’s, that late, lamented cathedral of cinephilia on St. Marks Place, her interest in performing was revived. Employees at the rental redoubt ranked among the city’s most movie-mad, as Sheil did (and still does, pulling out her phone, not impolitely, during our conversation to fact-check herself on the name of the director of MIKE’S MURDER, a little-known Debra Winger vehicle from 1984).” At the time I read the article, I had just watched Costa-Gavras’ uneven yet nonetheless entertaining anti-white nationalist melodrama Betrayed (1988) and realized I rather liked Debra Winger—a brunette Jewess with a certain delectable girl-next-door beauty—despite her ethnic handicap, so naturally I was enticed to see another film with her, especially after I read a somewhat enigmatic film synopsis on Bridge's flick that left me reasonably intrigued.  After all, my favorite 1980s films are decidedly dark works like Ivan Passer's Cutter's Way (1981), David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986), and Tim Hunter's River's Edge (1986), so naturally I am always looking out for similarly bleak material. Rather unfortunately, Mike’s Murder has yet to be released on Blu-ray and can only be bought as part of Warner Archive Collection’s rather disappointing barebones DVD-R series, which is certainly fitting for a idiosyncratic fag flick that would probably be regarded as being ‘homophobic’ by many of today's overly pampered and brainwashed contemporary gays. 

 Mike’s Murder begins in a rather deceptively traditionally romantic fashion with a montage involving various seamless dissolves of heroine Betty Parrish (Debra Winger) being delicately manhandled on a public tennis court by her bohunk beau Mike Chuhutsky (Mark Keyloun) and then lovingly penetrated in her bedroom by him. After watching the opening, one might assume that Betty is married to a man that she is deeply in love with, but the reality is that they only had a brief yet passionate fling as Mike is an aimless wanderer with the attention-span of a gnat who has been spending a lot of his free time running away from rivals as a petty drug dealer.  To his minor credit, Mike sells drugs to merely support his coke habit and pay off old drug debts. In fact, the only reason Mike briefly reenters Betty’s life after disappearing for six months is that he is in hiding and does not want to be caught by drug dealers that he pissed off as a result of making the reckless mistake of dealing on their home turf. Indeed, the two are only reunited as a result of happenstance when Betty hears Mike call her name while she is driving down the road.  Needless to say, Betty wastes no time in picking Mike up and the two immediately catch up in a manner that you would expect from two lovers that have not seen each other in a longtime. While flirting with Betty, Mike has no qualms about making rather forward remarks like, “I’d like to get you naked again. It’s been a longtime. What, like . . . six months at least?,” but he also expresses great fear and paranoia about being stalked. Hopelessly smitten like an innocent teenager girl with a hopeless crush, Betty naturally completely embraces Mike and his proposed reigniting of their hot and heavy romance, but it never really happens as the titular male bimbo is about as reliable as an LSD-addled schizophrenic street bum. Instead of achieving her assumed dream of beginning a long-term relationship with Mike, Betty is sucked into a sort of lovesick hell involving a dead lover, bitchy queens, violently paranoid dope fiends, arrogant quasi-punk art fags, and shadowy negroid hit men. 

 Not exactly a scholar or even someone with an average IQ, Mike unwittingly accepts a death sentence when he mindlessly goes along with his insufferably spastic and seemingly sociopathic friend Pete (Darrell Larson) after he decides to steal a sizable amount of cocaine from the wealthy suppliers that provide them with drugs to sell. Needless to say, the theft leaves both Mike and Pete marked men and the former is brutally murdered in his small apartment after being surprised by negro enforcers the very same night that he mindlessly snags the dope. While Betty simply assumes that Mike once again stood her up like he had done to her so many times before when he falls to meet her that night as the two planned, the truth is much uglier and horrifying, or so the heroine learns the next day after getting a random phone call from an eccentric yet annoyingly passive gay middle-aged photographer named Sam Morris (Robert Crosson). Although she does not know him, Sam informs Betty that their mutual ‘friend’ Mike has been brutally murdered and then invites her to his apartment. After being somewhat shocked that Sam’s apartment is completely covered with large posters of Mike, Betty discovers that her dead beau has a dubious connection to a rich and successful gay negro record produced named Philip Green (played by real-life gay negro Paul Winfield), so she decides to visit him to see if she can find out more about the mysterious murder. Rather unfortunately, Betty is in for a rather rude awakening as she discovers the uniquely undignified fact that Mike was once the personal white fuck toy of made spade Prince Philip, who even has a live-in white slave named Randy (William Ostrander). In between being entertained by Randy with coke-snorting and his insufferably gay tryout video for Chippendales, Betty scans old Polaroid photos of Mike as she waits to speak with Philip in what ultimately provides to be an extremely awkward couple minutes. An almost gleefully bitchy old queen that lives the rich hedonistic homo dream, Philip seems initially annoyed with Betty, but it is clearly because he is jealous of her and the real romantic connection she had with Mike.  Indeed, Mike might have fucked old men, but he preferred relatively fresh pussy.

 Naturally, Betty becomes somewhat upset when Philip tells her in regard to Mike’s murder, “You want to know everything? Well… You don’t. Believe me, you don’t. This wasn’t an enforcement killing. I mean, they were making a statement.”  While Betty seems to find it somehow curious that Philip was the one that was responsible for identifying Mike's corpse at the morgue, it certainly makes more sense to her when she discovers that her lover used to share a bed with the surly sod sambo.  Arguably more upsetting is everything else that Philip tells Betty about Mike, including about their gay interracial romance, or as he explains with a certain degree of slightly hidden lovesick melancholy, “It was, however, a very brief physical relationship. It was born on a hot Ohio day. Lot of drugs, Jack Daniels. It was not, as they say, his true bent, as you well know. Well, whatever it was, it was certainly worth a First Class ticket to sunny California. He lived with me in this house just as long as he wanted. Then, what about two years ago, he met you. He liked you. He certainly talked about you enough.” Although she clearly does not want to hear it, Philip also explains how his love affair began with Mike after he randomly picked him up while he was hitchhiking across country. As hinted by Philip’s words, “He had all kinds of stories that he used on different people. He was always preparing a face for the faces he met,” one also gets the impression that Mike was a happy-go-lucky sociopath of sorts, though he was a relatively benign one compared to his best friend Pete.  At the very least, Mike was completely and irrevocably morally retarded.  To Mike's credit, he openly acknowledged that Betty was “too good” for him, hence one of the reasons why he never attempted to pursue a serious relationship with her.  Of course, by never getting serious with Betty, Mike unwittingly protected her from very potentially being murdered too.

 While Betty is desperately running around town and attempting to find out everything she can about Mike and his untimely demise, her dead boy toy’s friend Pete—a socially corrosive criminal and all-around degenerate—is lurking in alleys and hiding in friends’ apartments as he tries in vain to evade the same negro enforcers that killed his pal. Hated by Philip (who he once called a “nigger” as revealed in a home movie that Randy plays for Betty) and undoubtedly an exceedingly erratic human parasite of the pathetically socially predatory sort, Pete eventually makes his way to Betty’s house in the hope she will provide him with sanctuary from the shadowy spade brigade, but he makes the mistake of more or less holding her hostage in her own home and treating her in a most absurdly aggressive fashion. High on the very same cocaine that resulted in him signing his own death warrant and positively petrified to the bone, Pete the prick clearly strikes fear in Betty, who attempts to do her best to not frighten or provoke the dangerously paranoid and unhinged proto-tweaker. Although he claims that he only needs a “friend,” Pete does not seem all that concerned about the fact that he completely scares the shit out of Betty. Also, like the stereotypical sociopath, little Petey has a terrible persecution complex and claims that the coke theft that got his best friend killed was nothing more than a simple “mistake,” or as he hysterically states in his pathetic defense, “There was so much. We took so little. I just wanted my share. Do you know how much they have? How well they live? Do you know how much I have? How I live? […] You think it’s all my fault. He knew what happened. He was a part of it. He took his share. I have him his share.” Of course, like Mike, Pete ultimately has to pay the price for his indiscretions. Indeed, luckily for Betty, a couple nameless and faceless negroes—the same gentlemen that killed Mike—show up at the heroine’s house, grab Pete, and take him away in a van before he can do anything too drastic to her (among other things, Pete begins threatening Betty with a knife). In the end, the negro enforcers dump Pete’s bound corpse, which includes a plastic bag wrapped around his head, at a remote construction site. As for Betty, she is featured in the final scene bittersweetly reminiscing about Mike after receiving photographs of her and him that were shipped to her by Sam. Needless to say, Mike must have been an absolutely otherworldly good fuck for a mild-mannered banker teller like Betty to go to homo hell and back in a rather desperate attempt to solve the puzzle of his grisly demise.  In the end, Betty ultimately pays a high prize for rough trade and she does not seem to regret a second of it, even though she now probably suffers from posttraumatic stress and will probably have a hard to maintaining romantic relationships in the future.

 Although just speculation, I think it is safe to say that Mike’s Murder is a sort of masochistic gay fantasy disguised as a sort of dark romantic mystery, even if it is based on a true story. To support my conclusion, I sought out reviews of the film and was quite delighted to find a somewhat recent one from colored contrarian Armond White, who is undoubtedly both the most hated and well known negro film critic working today. Despite being both gay and probably the only (in)famous negro American film critic, White is actually hated by Jews and white liberals due to his trashing of overrated race hustler garbage like black Brit Steve McQueen‘s superficial sell-out flick 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Jordan Peele’s big brown (pseudo)horror turd Get Out (2017). A rare American film critic that vocally values humanism over nihilism and does not subscribe to phony mainstream leftist narratives, White writes review for both the William F. Buckley Jr.-founded rag National Review (NR) and the cocksucker kultur mag Out, so naturally his review of Mike’s Murder—a film that would certainly be decried as being homophobic nowadays by the more hysterical members of the LGBT ghetto—is something quite exceptional. Indeed, in his January 2, 2018 review for Out entitled MIKE’S MURDER: Revisiting the Complex, Erotic Tale of an '80s Hollywood Hustler, White somewhat predictably demonstrates his affinity for the film’s gay negro record producer, arguing, “Bridges then shifts his attention to one of the deepest gay male characters in Hollywood history: Phillip, a wealthy, middle-aged music producer, tells Betty how he became Mike’s sugar daddy. Phillip steals the movie. Played by late gay actor Paul Winfield, best known for his Oscar-nominated role as the sharecropper father in Sounder, he displays a subtle passion. This career risk and personal revelation by Winfield and Bridges was historic. Beneath his elegant kaftan, the older gentleman who procures trim young men reveals a gay man’s fully recognizable inner life. Phillip is half-ashamed of the vulnerability indicated by his relationship with Mike (intimately remembered as ‘Michael’) when recalling their mutual exploitation. He asks Betty, ‘Were you in love with him? So was I. In the beginning, I was just desperately in love…It was not, as they say, ‘his true bent,’ as you well know.’”  Of course, despite only being briefly in the film, Philip is a strong and imperative character because he seems to be a sort of negrified stand-in for director Bridges.  Also, one cannot forget the unintentionally absurd image of Paul Winfield strutting around in a large hippie-like robe like he some sort of all-powerful and all-knowing aristocrat in Sodom.

 While the film is largely forgotten and not really regarded as much more than a strange and subversive artifact of 1980s (semi)mainstream gay cinema, Pauline Kael, whose second book Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (1968) incidentally played a crucial role in inspiring Armond White to become a film critic, actually wrote a short yet favorable review of Mike’s Murder and especially Debra Winger’s performance in The New Yorker. Although I am someone that has always appreciated auteurs over actors, I can certainly agree with Kael words in her June 30, 1986 review where she argues in regard to the lead actress, “Winger has thick, long, loose hair and a deep, sensual beauty in this movie. Bridges wrote the role for her after directing her in URBAN COWBOY, and you feel the heroine’s expanding awareness in Winger’s scenes with Keyloun and her scenes with Winfield. It’s a performance that suggests what Antonioni seemed to be trying to get from Jeanne Moreau in LA NOTTE, only it really works with Winger—maybe because there’s nothing sullen or closed about her. We feel the play of the girl’s intelligence, and her openness and curiosity are part of her earthiness, her sanity. There’s a marvelous sequence in which Mike calls her after an interval of three months and wants her to come to him right that minute. She says, ‘How about tomorrow night?’ He says, ‘You know I can’t plan that far in advance,’ and gets her to talk to him while he masturbates. He says he loves her voice, and though we don’t see him, we hear a callow sweetness in his tone; he wants to give her satisfaction, too. He talks hot, and she’s sort of amused, and goes along with it. I don’t know of anyone besides Winger who could play a scene like this so simply.” Undoubtedly a rare screen Jewess that takes a rather refined and sophisticated approach to feminine sensuality, sensitivity, nurturance, and compassion as opposed to stereotypically wallowing in the neurotic, obnoxious, arrogant, and/or the ethnically bitchy, Winger certainly deserves credit for much of the film’s emotion potency and pathos, even if Bridges was clearly more interested in hustler hunks and heartsick queens. Undoubtedly, Winger's range as an actress becomes rather clear when one compares her role in Bridge's film to her completely unrecognizable performance in drag in Alan Rudolph's somewhat underrated rom-com-fantasy Made in Heaven (1987). 

 Rather curiously but not all that surprisingly considering his sexual bent, Bridges gets the most radically retarded character in Mike’s Murder—aspiring Chippendales dancer-cum-gigolo Randy—to act as his sort of socio-political mouthpiece. Indeed, in a somewhat preachy scene, the character states in between literally snorting lines of cocaine to Betty, “Well, they outta legalize everything in this country. That’s what Philip says. Take it out of the hands of the criminals. You know…prostitution, drugs […] But I guess there’s so much money to be made. Philip has this theory, see, that, uh, the moral majority—whether they know it or not—is being funded by the mafia so that they can keep everything [that is] sinful illegal so that they can clean-up. Big business, you know. Thirty million Americans snort cocaine.” Of course, as someone that apparently hosted Hollywood homo orgies, it is not hard to see why Bridges supported the legalization of drugs and prostitution as he personally witnessed the totally senseless demise of people like Mike and his friends in real-life. After all, it is no coincidence that Randy complains during the same scene, “It’s been a weird weak. I’ve known two people personally that got murdered this week. They were both drug related,” just as it is probably no coincidence that Bridges got Mark Keyloun to play the titular character as the actor previously played alongside a then-unknown Kevin Bacon as a gay-for-pay hustler in Paul Morrissey’s similarly underrated Forty Deuce (1982). 

 Not unlike Morrissey, Bridges was an auteur that was first and foremost a filmmaker and not a ‘fag filmmaker’ that emphasized a subversive socio-sexual agenda over an artistic one. In fact, the great irony of a marginal film like Mike’s Murder is that it would have never been made had Bridges not received a great commercial success with his Travolta vehicle Urban Cowboy (1980). Rather unfortunately, the current cut of Mike’s Murder that exists is not the film that Bridges originally intended as the studio Warner Brothers hated the director’s original cut and refused to release it until the director made some drastic changes in regard to multiple aspects of the film. For example, the film apparently originally had a narrative structure comparable to Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible (2002) in that events were depicted in a chronologically backward fashion. Arguably most infuriatingly of all, the eponymous murder scene was also cut from the film, or as star Mark Keyloun revealed in a 2015 interview featured at TVStoreOnline Blog, “And what happened to MIKE'S MURDER, basically, is that when it came time to test-screen the film, the studio put it in front of an audience in some some upscale Northern California county. Because of the blood and sex—the film didn't receive a favorable review. I think, that Bridges and the producers ran scared. They went back into the editing room and cut out all of the good stuff. They cut out all the stuff that made the film great. They re-oriented the film, from a point-of-view that sanitized the whole thing. The irony of that—Pacino's SCARFACE (1983) had just come out. There's a scene in there with Pacino and some guys cutting up a person in a bathtub with a chainsaw. The producers and Bridges cut out my character's murder—where he was cut-up with a knife in a apartment with blood flying all over. They cut out the butchery, and the sex. There was a bunch more sex in the film that was cut out, and how do you a sell a film without the violence and the sex? (laughing).” As far what the murder scene was like, Keyloun also explained in the same interview, “Mike was stabbed in the chest. It was very graphic. There was cow blood being spewed all over the walls. Mike was stabbed and his throat is cut. He got stabbed multiple times and blood was spraying all over. That was the most-effective part of the sequence. They filmed me flailing around on the floor in slow-motion with blood squirting out of my chest.” Rather sadly, aside from the murder scene being excised, a number of sex scenes were also cut, including Keyloun pounding Winger’s puss doggy-style.  Somewhat ironically, the film would probably be better known today had Bridges not followed the studio's demands and cut out all of the murder, mayhem, and mammary glands.

 Also, less interestingly, the original musical score by English musician Joe Jackson was replaced with a score by English composer John Barry. Of course, both of these musicians seem rather banal when one considers that the film features an unintentionally humorous cameo from ‘Spazz Attack’ (real name Craig Allen Rothwell ), who was featured in David Bowie's Glass Spiders tour of 1988, appeared as a ‘demon alien’ in Tony Basil’s “Space Girls” music video, and is probably best known for his relationship with DEVO (aside from appearing in a couple of their music videos, he portrayed their iconic quasi-mascot ‘Booji Boy’ during one of their tours). Notably, during his brief appearance in the film, Spazz Attack states, “Art has always been an expression of the backs of people’s minds—what they conceive life to actually be.” Of course, Mike’s Murder is, if nothing else, an expression of Bridge’s mind and the unsentimental way he conceived life to actually be. In that sense, aside from September 30, 1955, most of Bridge’s other films seem like well constructed hack work by comparison. After all, while his hits like The Paper Chase and Urban Cowboy are technically more immaculate in terms of their pacing and overall construction, they lack the authenticity and sincerity of Mike’s Murder (though one must admit that most of these films have certain ‘queer’ sensibilities). As a filmmaker, Bridges can be seen as a sort of gay Robert Redford as purveyor of middlebrow (melo)drama that is meant to tickle the painfully average intellects of the largely culturally retarded American bourgeoisie.  Naturally, what makes Mike's Murder standout is that it transcends simple bourgeois bullshit and tells the sort of sickly sordid story that borders on hybristophilia. Additionally, the film features the sort of emotive hustler worship that is typical of early Gus Van Sant films like Mala Noche (1985) and especially My Own Private Idaho (1991).

 In terms of films featuring the heterosexual horrors of a woman having to cope with the great shock of fact that her beau is also a cocksucker, the subgenre has very few entries and includes films as diverse as John Schlesinger’s Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), Jacques Scandelari’s Monique (1978) aka Flashing Lights, Arthur Hiller’s Making Love (1982), and Cyril Collard’s Les Nuits Fauves (1992) aka Savage Nights, among various other examples. Undoubtedly, what makes Mike’s Murder different from all these films is that it takes a more satisfying slow-burning approach to revealing the revelation that the heroine’s lover was a prick-peddler (of course, the fact that a middle-aged negro was in love with him makes this reveal all the more awkward and disturbing). Interestingly, not unlike Fassbinder’s cryptically autobiographical Sapphic melodrama The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972), Mike’s Murder is based on a true story where the genders of the characters were changed, or as actor Dan Shor explained in an interview, “MIKE'S MURDER was based on a real guy that [director] Jim Bridges knew. The film was an investigation into the gay community of Los Angeles of that time. Debra Winger was really playing a guy in the film, and Mike, Mark Keyloun, was essentially playing a male hooker […] You got the sense that my character was unsuccessful with everyone, compared to the character of Mike—who was like the Brigitte Bardot of the film.”  Indeed, there is no doubt that Bridges' camera worships Keyloun the same way that Roger Vadim's did in iconic Bardot vehicles like ...And God Created Woman (1956).

 In fact, the facts revolving around the real Mike are eerily similar to the film as revealed by Bridge’s longtime lover and the film’s associate producer Jack Larson, who explained in an interview, “Mark was a terrific, eager, and dedicated young man. I think he may have been from Baltimore originally. Paul Winfield, years prior, had met Mark while he was in Baltimore shooting a film. They met, and Mark expressed an interest in working in films to Paul, but not as an actor. Both Jim [Bridges] and I knew Paul well, because he had been around town for many years, he had done a play that I had written, and also a play that Jim had written prior to the shooting of MIKE'S MURDER. So both Jim and I knew him fairly well, and through Paul, we both got to know Mark Bernalack. Paul had brought Mark out to Los Angeles from Baltimore, and he moved into Paul's house. Mark was extraordinarily handsome, and indeed, he did start to get jobs on films as a crew member after he came out here. He stayed with Paul for a while, and after he had enough money to get on his feet, he moved out of Paul's house and took an apartment in Brentwood—where Jim and I lived. It was in the heart of Brentwood near Sunset and Barrington. There was a tennis court around there, and when Jim and I would drive down Barrington we would often see Mark teaching tennis at those particular courts. In fact, those courts on Barrington are the same courts that we used to shoot the scenes with Mark [Keyloun] and Debra [Winger] in MIKE'S MURDER. Mark was a great tennis player. He was an ace. And he was obviously a locale Lothario to all the single girls in that area. And he would often have a bandana around his head while he was playing. He was very gallant looking […] Mark had been savagely murdered at his apartment in Brentwood. It was all over the papers and on the television. It was a horror. Everyone that knew Mark, liked him. We were all stunned. The newspapers said that he was a drug dealer. He wasn't. I mean, Mark didn't ever have enough money at one time to buy himself a car. He wasn't a drug dealer, but there were two guys, who were African-Americans, who I guess, were drug dealers—they confronted him at his apartment and Mark was murdered. Jim was very haunted by it. It was because of how Mark was called a drug dealer in the newspapers. That was very sad to him. The papers portrayed Mark's murder as if it was a good thing because he was a drug dealer.”  Certainly, one must salute Bridges for his racial realism in terms of staying true to the historical facts and depicting the killers as young negroes, which probably would not happen nowadays due to Hollywood's commitment to propping up so-called minorities, especially blacks.  Although gay, Mike's Murder is certainly not plagued by political correctness, especially when it comes to gay characters.  Indeed, from a middle-aged gay alcoholic photographer named Sam that creepily secretly takes photos of the young man he lusts after to the glaring white slave dynamic that seems to be the most defining trait of wealthy negro Philip's personal life, Bridges' film paints a particularly pathetic portrait of homo Hollywood.

 Of course, more than a murder mystery, the film carries the simple yet important message that if you hang around shit long enough, you start to smell, hence the brutal demise of Mike and the precarious situation that his dubious personal relationships put his lover Betty in. In short, heterosexual Mike has his life completely destroyed as a result of entering the cocaine-driven cocksucking realm. Notably, Bridges' film is not the only movie of the 1980s that depicts such a scenario as Marek Kanievska's uneven Bret Easton Ellis adaptation Less Than Zero (1987) stars Robert Downey Jr. as a self-destructive cokehead that eventually betrays his heterosexuality and begins giving and receiving head from fags as a means to fund his ultimately fatal drug addiction. Ironically, director Bridges' degenerate lifestyle and dubious personal relationships resulted in what is the greatest and most intriguing film of his filmmaking career, thus making it all the more tragic that the film only exists today in a butchered cut that both associate producer Larson (who apparently owns a copy of the director's cut) and star Winger agree is inferior to the original director's cut.  Needless to say, the Criterion Collection needs to get in contact with Larson so that we can finally see the release of cinema history's greatest bisexual murder mystery as it was originally intended to be.

A very, very long time ago in 1939, the American revolutionary Francis Parker Yockey wrote while still in college, “Appalling numbers of youth have been led into a cynical ultra-sophisticated attitude which regards drinking as a badge of social aptitude, which makes a fetish of sport and professes eroticism as a way of life. A perverted and insane pictorial art, lewd exhibitionistic dancing and jungle music form the spiritual norm of this sector of America's youth.”  Of course, even Yockey could not have predicted a titular character as stupidly tragic as the titular character of Mike's Murder.  Undoubtedly, what makes the film so intriguing is that has a sort of paradoxical morality that seems to both embrace and decry the sort of hyper hedonistic homosexuality lifestyle it depicts, but I guess one not expect anything less from the auteur piece of a closeted gay man.  Either way, the titular character and his friends are certainly plagued with an all the more apocalyptically degenerate version of the nihilistic social attitude that Yockey warned of.

-Ty E

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