Editor’s Note: The following note was purportedly sent by cult film director J.X. Williams via an obsolete Telex machine housed in the basement of the Film Threat offices. The device was left plugged in just in case the reclusive director ever decided to continue his notorious but defunct column for our website. After more than two years of radio silence, the Telex spontaneously began whirring and printing out the article you will read below. The opinions expressed in Mr. Williams’ writings are solely those of the author. They do not reflect any policy, endorsement, or action of this publication.
My adoring public,
Hope you didn’t miss me. I am alive and well in a South American country that has no extradition treaty with the U.S.
Before I fade into the ether again, I need to issue a brief statement to the media.
In 2011, you may recall that I vowed to kick the shit out of Film Threat contributor and critic Noel Lawrence after he double-crossed me.
I stand by my fatwa. If that little bastard ever crosses my path, I will beat him to a pulp with my steel-tipped cane.
However, I also would like to add a clarification to my previous statement.
My informants in Hollywood recently leaked a bootlegged copy of an unreleased picture called Sammy-Gate. The film is a dark, political satire about how Sammy Davis, Jr. caused Watergate. How does that happen? I won’t spoil the ending for you but it involves Howard Hughes, the CIA, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Church of Satan. Nothing like the good ol’ days…In many ways, the picture is a quasi-sequel to my film Peep Show, which concerned how Frank Sinatra caused the JFK assassination. Noel obviously studied that film very closely when he wrote Sammy-Gate. Yes, that’s right. My nemesis is the director of the film. However, I am not here to accuse him of ripping me off. Noel has his own vision and I reluctantly confess it is an interesting one.
Sammy-Gate originates from an amusing historical footnote. Sammy Davis, Jr. was an adviser to the Nixon Administration and a Second Degree Warlock in the Church of Satan at the very same time. While I wouldn’t say this curious factoid defines the epic biography of the great entertainer, Noel chose an interesting starting point for his film.
My acquaintance with Sammy Davis, Jr. began in the late 1950s when I was hired to film concerts of the Rat Pack. I won’t be able to tell you much more about that crew than what you can glean from their numerous biographies. Sinatra was an asshole. Martin was aloof. Lawford was pervy. Joey Bishop had the good sense to go to bed after they performed. Sammy was the only good egg in that faker’s dozen.
I wouldn’t say we were close. Sammy did not keep council with anyone I knew. However, I liked his style. He loved his public. If there were a hundred fans milling outside his dressing room, he didn’t go home until every one of them got an autograph. He also had courage. Marrying a white woman in 1960 was not a good career move for a black entertainer. But Sammy followed his heart even if it meant no more love from the Kennedys. He was dropped as a performer from JFK’s inaugural ball due to the controversy.
A decade later, he fell in with another president, Richard Nixon. That is the entry point for Sammy-Gate. While the typical musical biopic meanders along the typical narrative trajectory of the rise, fall, and redemption, Sammy-Gate begins a-tumbling along the downslope of Davis’ career in the 70s. The film’s opening monologue by Darius James sums it up perfectly:
In the 1960s, Sammy’s fortunes declined. Confronted by an increasingly self-aware black community, and the searing acid-flash of a psychedelic counter-culture, Sammy saw himself as a dusty curio; a terminally unhip embarrassment; a relic of a bygone era relegated to cameos and endorsements.
He divorced May Britt, fell into heavy drink, slapped Sinatra like a thieving 3-dollar crack ho’ for calling him “Smokey” during a craps shoot, and eventually sold his soul to the devil (or insofar as anyone might consider Nixon “The Devil”). The facts you are about to see are true. The conclusions…speculative.
At the same time, the film is not just a dirge about Sammy’s fading stardom. Mr. Bojangles kicks ass. He battles a rogue’s gallery of CIA spooks, mob soldiers, and other assorted G-Men while attempting to expose a para-governmental conspiracy to smuggle Indochinese heroin into the United States. The whole story is delivered in a stylish multi-screen format that staggers even my psychedelic sensibilities.
So, to conclude, I still would like to hurt Noel Lawrence but I also want to help his film.
Like many directors, Noel needs money to finish his project. While I have found embezzling and money laundering to be the most effective ways of financing a picture, there is now a website called Kickstarter where you can donate your money to creative projects in return for “rewards.” These rewards might include things like a prop from the film or a limited edition movie poster. Frankly, that doesn’t sound too sexy but my assistant tells me that Kickstarter prohibits enticements such as narcotics and sexual favors.
So I am going to offer the next best thing.As you may know, digital copies of my films are hard to find. While Fandor and even YouTube stream some of my films, many of them contain transgressive content and cannot be distributed commercially. For a brief time, however, you can get a peek.
A donation of $25 or more to the Sammy-Gate campaign gets you access to a small portion of my filmography. Along with the classic Peep Show, you will get such rareties as The 400 Blow Jobs, Sex Crimes of the 21st Century, and some other curios from the vault. The campaign ends in less than two weeks, which means you will have to act fast.
So, remember, support Noel’s Kickstarter and nobody gets hurt!