RIP Robert Towne

by Randy Fuller Jul 10, 2024

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌ ‌This week, we look at three films from Robert Towne’s Selectric. Stop taking our icons, already!

Robert Towne died last week, at the ripe old age of 89. He is a legend in Hollywood, the author of so many great films you have to wonder how he ever had time to go shopping, or take out the garbage. He was so proud of his work that if he didn’t like the way the movie turned out, he would take his name off of it. He may have done that as many times as not. Once again, we have to lift our glasses to a great one who has gone to the big screening room in the sky.

They say you can’t win them all, and Towne proved that by grabbing three Oscar noms in his career, but taking home hardware only once. That was for Chinatown in 1974. It wasn’t just a great script, it is used in textbooks designed to teach people how to write great scripts. Do they work? Well, I read one of those books, then read the script for Chinatown, but there is nothing on IMDB to show that anything came from that.

The movie centers on the way Los Angeles became a big city, by taking water from the Owens Valley via the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Before that happened, L.A. was a big wine producing area. When the water started flowing in, so did urbanization. All the grape vines that once grew from Malibu to the Inland Empire were ripped out to make way for urban sprawl. That’s progress, I guess.

The only L.A. winery from those days that is still here is San Antonio Winery. It is still located in downtown Los Angeles thanks to Catholicism. They survived Prohibition because they made sacramental wines for the church, the stuff that pairs well with a wafer. The Riboli family no longer uses SoCal grapes for their wines, but they make some good stuff, sourced from Paso Robles, Monterey County, Napa Valley, even Italy. Their Opaque line is made from Paso fruit. The Petit Verdot and Tannat wines sell for $30.

Shampoo, from 1975, was co-written by Towne and the film’s star, Warren Beatty. He plays a hair stylist who got into the business for the women. Well, why does any man get into any business? You have to have a going concern if you want the ladies to dig you. Well, unless you’re Warren Beatty. That’s enough right there. But, give a woman a great haircut and doors will open. Play a good guitar, it’s a magnet. Earn a ton of money, the world is your oyster. Make great wine… well, that may be a bit of a reach.

I notice online there are shampoos and conditioners made with red wine. That seems like an awful waste of red wine to me. I use Suave, and the compliments never end. In fact, when I was younger, a lady admired my hair and asked me what shampoo I used. When I told her it was Suave, she hurled a rather rude rejoinder my way. She spent way more on her shampoo, and her hair wasn’t all that great.

Champoux Vineyard (yes, it’s pronounced “shampoo”) is an acclaimed plot of land in Washington state, in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. Andrew Will makes a Merlot-heavy Bordeaux blend that sells for $81. Don’t try washing your hair with it. Suave is way cheaper.

Towne got his start by writing for Roger Corman. 1964’s The Tomb of Ligeia was adapted from a story by Edgar Allan Poe. It tells of a woman who marries a man who’s dead wife is buried under the house. Was he a hairdresser? Only the executor knows for sure.

If you find that your new spouse has something buried under the house, it’s probably not going to be good news. I mean, money, maybe. Anything else falls into the category of “Why wasn’t I informed of this?” The body under the bathroom isn’t the worst of it, though. The ex’s spirit still pads around those cold stone floors as a cat. As if cats weren’t already problematic enough.

In “The Cask of Amontillado,” another Poe story, the killer vanquishes his victim by entombing him in a wine cellar. Are there worse ways to go? Maybe. Let me think on it. While I’m thinking, I’ll have Lustau’s Los Arcos Amontillado sherry. It is bone dry and even more complex than Poe’s villain.

Randy Fuller
NowAnd Zin Wine –
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