As I was looking at the image of me in the GTO passing Peter
Helm in his SWB California spider on Mulholland Drive, I was reminded of another
occasion when I made an illegal pass (crossing a double yellow line) on a
narrow, winding canyon road during the same era. As those who knew me well can
attest, I always obeyed all traffic laws at all times except sometimes.
I was going up Topanga Canyon from the beach in the GTO taking a maximum of
pleasure from the winding road and enjoying the sound of the V12 engine as it
reverberated off the canyon walls. The mechanical noises inside the lightly
insulated cockpit were a perfect alternative to any music an FM radio or tape
deck would have supplied and the sound of six twin-choke Webers sucking air
through twelve unfettered velocity stacks always made me smile. It was a good
Topanga Canyon is, for the most part, a tighter course than Malibu Canyon
further to the north and there are few opportunities to make use of fourth and
fifth gears. Slow moving traffic can impede the most adventurous
spirit especially in the tighter sections where passing opportunities are rare
and a double yellow line is offering the suggestion that passing other cars
might be frowned upon even on those stretches where the road seems to be encouraging the
act. On those occasions, first and (maybe) second gear is commonly used resulting in
a build-up of frustration at the opportunities being squandered by 25 mph
cruising speeds. It felt more like loitering than cruising.
It seems I had joined a processional of cars whose drivers were content with
what can only be described as a funereal pace. Finally, after dawdling along
for miles at minimal revs in second gear hoping not to foul the plugs, we
approached the village that is downtown Topanga. This section of road that goes
past the Quonset hut market is one of the few straightaways in the canyon that
allow for a clear view of the road ahead and what I saw was free of oncoming
traffic and inviting if one were inclined to execute a passing maneuver. I was.
I engaged first gear--back from second, left against the spring and back into
first--and let it rip. The noise was exquisite! A quick, unrestrained run up to
seven thousand rpm provided a sensation of speed and sound that was
intoxicating. I had selected a gap between two cars near the head of the
procession where I would safely complete the passing maneuver and return to my
lane. It was a brief yet joyous few seconds of exuberance. The canyon amplified
the sound of the Ferrari engine the way the setting of the Greek Theater
enhanced the music of Chicago during their concert there. As I resigned myself to a
resumption of the processional, I discovered what had been causing it. Four
cars ahead of me was a black and white Dodge belonging to the California
Highway Patrol. It had been setting the funereal pace for the rest of us.
Whether the CHP officer had spied my maneuver in his rear view mirror or
whether the canyon's acoustical properties conveyed those few exciting seconds
to him like they were the last bit of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture (with
cannons) I'll never know. What I did know was that he waved the car that was
immediately behind him around. Then, he made a similar motion to the next car
that was behind him. A pattern of behavior on his part was emerging.
Before any further developments could develop, we reached a curve in the road
where Topanga Canyon continued onward towards the San Fernando Valley and the
magnificent Old Topanga Canyon Road veered off to the left. The CHP officer carried on, no doubt
intent on arriving at some location in the Valley. For my part, I had
seen quite enough of the San Fernando Valley and it had been awhile since I had
traveled the old road...
No doubt, the CHP officer would like to have gotten a closer look at the
GTO--who wouldn't?--but he had already committed to staying on the main
road whereas I was
traveling a different road that day and have continued to do so ever
How to Shoot a Feature Film in 15 Days (And Survive to See Profits)
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Examples of Responsive Reactions
Click photo to see example clips from Stephen's movies
Action/ReAction at Stella Adler
Point of Departure
A Series of ONE...
Stephen and Dragonuk
Stephen Mitchell webinar for Stage 32
Ferrari GTO 3987 at speed by Yan denes
Ray D. Shosay's Journal
Dispatches from a (junior) suite in Paris
Ray D. Shosay's Journal (excerpt)
"Saturday, January 27, 2007
They say you can fool some of the people all of the time. Accordingly, I think we should concentrate on this group initially. We can move on to the people you can only fool some of the time at a later date if we deem it necessary. I hope to hear back from my agent about this as soon as he's out of rehab, as I don't think my messages have been getting through."
Ignorance is Bliss by Stephen Mitchell
Kindle or Paperback versions
Exerpt from Ignorance is Bliss
"Out of the corner of his eye, Martin saw Martha shift in her seat. She leaned forward, as though something was about to be decided. This caused her breasts to push up against the neckline of her dress in a way that couldn't be fully appreciated out of the corner of one’s eye. So, Martin turned his head to look directly into the abyss of her cleavage. He was vaguely aware that Murray was talking again."
Carrera Panamericana (1950-54)
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Ferrari GTO 3987
Elysée Wednesday: Drive!
Click photo to watch on Amazon Direct Video
“You ought to meet Steve. The two of you have the same kind of Ferrari.”
Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso
One evening, I was enjoying a John le Carré novel and a glass of Bordeaux...
L'art de l'automobile
My first Lusso prior to restoration
It was only after Sinatra was gone...
Once upon a time...
Meeting Enzo Ferrari
I came across this on a late night stroll in Paris near the Louvre.
I bought Bentleys in England and Ferraris & Maseratis in Italy to re-sell in Los Angeles as a teenager. I met Enzo Ferrari, Juan Fangio and Steve McQueen. I 'grew up' on the set of Mission: Impossible and other episodic TV series of the era. For a few years, I owned a Ferrari GTO that is owned by Ralph Lauren today and valued at approximately $52M. I began my film career by writing, producing and directing Montmartre in Paris in French. I founded and ran a repertory company for film & TV for 20 years in Los Angeles. I created a TV series which had fans that included Marlon Brando. I authored the first new acting technique--Action/ReAction--that was not based on Stanislavski's Method. I am currently writing my third novel and shooting my spy thriller Exigence. If you can't make movies, live your life as though you were in one...