Report from the “Gone With The Pope” Premiere

The world premiere of Duke Mitchell’s long-unfinished Gone With The Pope took place last night at The Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles – an event that’s been over 30 years in the making since the film was originally shot and nearly 15 years since Grindhouse Releasing’s extensive restoration on it began. Given all the intense speculation and anticipation that had been built up over time, the film itself along the entire event turned out to be a total blast!

For the length of the film, it seems as if the entire theater was fixed on the screen; there were no walk-outs or uncomfortable moments beside the bursts of energy and laughter when Paul (Duke Mitchell) has his big scenes with the “spook” hooker or pushes a big fat girl through a tiny door in order to give his friend Peter Milo a very BIG surprise in bed. I’ll leave it to more technically-advanced reviewers to articulate the intricacies of this new cult phenomenon (which I’m sure they will start doing over this weekend) but all I have to say is that the film looks great, sounds great.

L to R – Bob Leighton, Robert Florio, John Murgia, Jeffrey Mitchell,
Jim LoBianco, Peter Santoro and Bob Murawski

The panel discussion afterward with editors Bob Leighton and Robert Florio, cinematographer Peter Santoro, actors Jim LoBianco and John Murgia along with Jeffrey Mitchell (whose incredible songs Jacknife and Whisky are featured in Pope) was simply fantastic as well. Mr. Santoro and the editors were right there with all the technical details regarding the film, Mr. Murgia offered some nice remembrances of Duke and their work on the Jimmy Durante special and Jeffrey Mitchell really connected with the audience with his very personal stories of his father and how his own music wound up in the film. The q&a was videotaped so I’m under the impression that it will eventually show up on the video release but, as Bob Murawski stated bluntly during the program, GWTP can only be seen in theatres right now so if it comes to your area, RUN to the box office and grab a ticket!