|Index||5 reviews in total|
Joe Spinell is best-known for writing, producing and starring in William Lustig's gritty, legendary horror movie "Maniac," the DVD of which showcases this documentary. "The Joe Spinell Story" plays like an A&E Biography, but more interesting because you really feel like you're unearthing something new here. A&E and the E! Network wouldn't even consider airing something on a "lowly" character actor. Too bad for them, but bully for you if you pick up the "Maniac" DVD. Spinell was an outstanding actor, who played all sorts of strange, diverse characters. His career is covered in this doc, but more importantly, you get a portrait of Spinell as a real person, with stories from Lustig, Jason Miller ("The Exorcist"), Robert Forster ("Jackie Brown"), plus other friends and family. The doc is funny, poignant and sometimes downright sad, but in the end you feel like you met the guy, perhaps even had a couple drinks with him. Watch it, then watch "Maniac" again. And then, search out Spinell's other work.
This 49 minute documentary on the late great actor Joe Spinell, found
as an extra on the Special Edition of "Maniac", is pretty comprehensive
and very informative. Featuring interviews with those that were close
to him in life, I found all the stories that were told in this
documentary to be fascinating and it's very much worth watching. I've
reviewed a good many documentaries made for Special Edition DVDs of
various films and have found that the some of the best ones were all
directed by David Gregory and somehow when reviews all of those
previous documentaries I've always neglected to give him props for
them. Well I wish to remedy that oversight here and now. David, you
make great docs and mad thanks to you for that.
My Grade: A
This documentary (included on Anchor Bay's special edition DVD} is a fascinating look back at an excellent character and just plain all around crazy guy who lived a very fearless and uncompromising lifestyle. It talks to many of his friends and family and covers most of his major roles including "Maniac". It covers from his birth and rise in Hollywood to his untimely and mysterious death. The film isn't as polished as I would like but it suits a guy that was full of rough edges and had a heart of gold to go along with his talent and ambitions. Most of the stories told are quite fun and it's clear that Spinell lived life to its fullest.
Joe Spinell Story, The (2001)
**** (out of 4)
Another brilliant documentary from director David Gregory and Blue Underground taking a look at the troubled like of character actor Joe Spinell. From The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Rocky all the way up to Maniac and his incredibly bizarre and still unsolved death. What's so great is that the documentary doesn't pull any punches and shows the complete life of this guy who had a heart of gold but personal demons as well. We get to see him with Steven Spielberg during the Oscar nomination announcement for Jaws as well as footage from the unfinished Maniac 2.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Joe Spinell was a popular and prolific character actor who it turns out was just as much of a colorful character in real life as he was on screen. Spinell was always at the movies as a kid, worked as a cab driver, and acted in stage plays that were put on for prisoners prior to making his film debut as a hit-man in "The Godfather." After that Spinell went on to appear in such 70's classics as "Rocky" and "Taxi Driver," plus lived one hell of a crazy lifestyle before dying quite suddenly at age 52. Robert Forster, Richard Lynch, Jason Miller, director William Lustig, producer Sonny Grosso, sister Grace Raimo, and close friend Luke Walter all not only relate some choice stories about Spinell's wild exploits, but also point out that Spinell was an actor who was game for anything with a natural and internalized way of doing his craft and, most importantly, was the kind of bighearted fellow who if he liked you was your buddy for life. Among the subjects covered herein are how Spinell was almost in "Jaws," the way he helped Sly Stallone out early in his career, Spinell getting arrested during the making of "The Ninth Configuration," his ill-fated marriage with porn actress Jean Jennings, the making of the movies "Maniac" and "The Last Horror Film" (these were rare showcases for Spinell as a lead instead of supporting actor), Spinell's problems with drugs and alcohol, and his increasingly self-destructive behavior in the wake of the death of his beloved mother who he lived with in an apartment in Queens, New York. Essential viewing for Spinell fans.
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