THE GENESIS - DOC

					THE GRAND INQUISITOR
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY EDDIE MULLER
20 minutes USA Color NTSC
www.grandinquisitormovie.com

Legendary blacklisted actress Marsha Hunt, 90, returns to the screen in a noir fairy
tale based on actual events. A cache of used books leads a young woman to the door
of a woman who may or may not be the widow of America’s most notorious
unapprehended serial killer.



In 2006 the acclaimed novelist Megan Abbott (Die a Little, The Song Is You, Queenpin)
asked her colleague Eddie Muller to contribute to a collection of short noir fiction that
she was editing, titled A Hell of a Woman: An Anthology of Female Noir. Although he
was flattered to be one of the few male contributors, Muller struggled with his story for
so long that he almost missed the deadline. It wasn‟t until he switched the gender of the
male protagonist, using an idea that he‟d carried around for almost two years—“The Man
Who Walked In Dead Men‟s Shoes”—that the tale suddenly came to life.

THE BACKSTORY
A couple of years earlier, two of Muller‟s friends, the Bay Area booksellers Heather
Mahan and James Silva, invited him into the back room of their store to examine a box of
recently acquired books. After perusing the eclectic and crazily notated texts for 15 head-
spinning minutes, the eager proprietors asked him for his assessment.

“I think these may have belonged to the Zodiac Killer,” Muller said.

“Exactly what we thought!”

Silva was so convinced that he contacted both the San Francisco and Vallejo police
departments, in whose jurisdictions the legendary killer is known to have committed
murders. Neither agency chose to follow up, citing the “evidence” as too circumstantial.

THE SHORT STORY
Although no official investigation of a new Zodiac suspect ever got off the ground, it
pointed to an intriguing and previously unexplored idea: What if the Zodiac Killer was
married? After changing his protagonist into a young woman, Muller sent her off with a
bag of books slung over her chipped shoulder. She had a dark childhood secret eating at
her, and she didn‟t care if the cops thought she was crazy. She‟d prove them wrong. And
the only way to do it was to ring the doorbell of Mrs. Hazel Reedy—who may or may not
be the widow of the most legendary unapprehended serial killer of our time.

THE FILM VERSION
Almost as soon as Muller finished writing The Grand Inquisitor in April 2007, the story
was being discussed as a possible film project. Abbott, its first reader, was thrilled by its
cinematic potential. Jonathan Marlow, Muller‟s San Francisco film colleague, read the
story and said: “When do we start shooting?” Because the entire piece involves only two
characters in one location, it seemed eminently economically feasible. Leah Dashe, a 24-
year-old actress who had appeared in a local play Muller had written, was the writer‟s
first and only choice for the role of the intrepid young investigator.

It was Marlow‟s inspired idea to send the story to the venerable 90-year-old Hollywood
actress Marsha Hunt. Just two months earlier Hunt had been Muller‟s guest of honor at
his annual NOIR CITY film festival in San Francisco, where she had amazed a full
opening night audience at the Castro Theater with her ageless charm, wit, and beauty.
The character of Hazel Reedy, however, called for none of those qualities. If anything,
Muller was afraid that the story‟s inexorable slide into the macabre and its strange,
shocking conclusion might scare Hunt off.

“Eddie, I have some reservations about it,” the actress said via telephone after reading the
story. Muller was afraid she‟d never speak to him again.

“I have to smoke an awful lot in this story. Any way we can get around that? I‟d
appreciate it,” said Hunt. “Other than that, I love this character. When are we going to
start?”

THE PRODUCTION
The Grand Inquisitor was filmed in six days in Alameda, California, in late July 2007.
One of the most daunting preproduction challenges was finding a house that conformed
exactly to the floor plan in Muller‟s story. As he was preparing to scout locations all over
the Bay Area based on neighborhood demographics and architectural styles, his wife,
Kathleen Milne, looked out their second-story window into the gathering dusk.

“What about Kaye‟s house?” she said. “Isn‟t she in Utah?”

Finding the ideal location only two doors away from their own home is just one of the
reasons that Milne is the executive producer of The Grand Inquisitor.

Special arrangements were made with the Screen Actors Guild to allow Marsha Hunt to
work for less than scale, since the film qualified for SAG‟s low-budget production
exemption. Hunt flew in by herself from Southern California and Dashe from New York,
where she had moved just one month before. The two actresses constituted a story in
themselves, and a study in generational contrasts: Hunt, a Hollywood-trained charter
member of SAG since 1937, and Dashe (UC Berkeley class of 2005), a neophyte making
her film debut and hoping to score a SAG card for her efforts.

“There was so much to learn from watching Marsha perform,” Dashe said. “Sometimes I
just wanted to stand back and watch, just soak it all in. Then I‟d snap out of it and
remember I was acting with her. It was a challenge, and I feel I responded. I‟m incredibly
fortunate to have gotten a crash course in film acting with this remarkable woman.”
Hunt ended up describing the filming, compressed shooting schedule and all, as “one of
the most satisfying experiences of my career.”

“Despite her having to smoke an entire carton of Pall Malls,” Muller quickly adds.
CAST AND CREW BIOGRAPHIES

MARSHA HUNT (Hazel Reedy)
Marsha Hunt, a native of Chicago, began her Hollywood career in 1935, signing with
Paramount Pictures at the age of 17. Before she turned 20 she had made more than 12
films, costarring with the likes of John Wayne, Robert Cummings, and Jack Benny.

Although model-gorgeous, Hunt disdained the studio‟s efforts to sell her as an ingenue;
she refused to pose for the so-called leg art that was the publicists‟ stock in trade. Once
she moved to MGM she quickly earned a reputation for tackling challenging roles, many
of them seemingly beyond her years. By the mid-1940s she was being called
Hollywood‟s youngest character actress, having costarred in a wide range of comedies,
dramas, and musicals (in which she did her own singing). Her biggest projects included
Pride and Prejudice, Flight Command, Blossoms In the Dust, Seven Sweethearts, None
Shall Escape, and the 1944 best-picture nominee The Human Comedy.

She worked with an array of legendary directors, from stalwart vets Frank Borzage, Allan
Dwan, and Edgar G. Ulmer to such ascendant talents as Jules Dassin, Andre de Toth,
Fred Zinnemann, and Anthony Mann. Raw Deal, the 1948 crime drama she made with
Mann, is considered one of the finest examples of film noir ever produced.

Hunt‟s career, however, was dramatically curtailed in the late 1940s. After traveling to
Washington DC to protest the actions of the House Committee on Un-American
Activities (as part of the famous and ill-fated Hollywood Fights Back caravan of stars),
Hunt‟s name appeared in the infamous periodical Red Channels. Film offers dried up.
While continuing to pursue her acting career on television and the stage, Hunt redirected
her attentions to humanitarian causes, working with the United Nations as a global
activist. In Southern California she was one of the first citizens to press the plight of the
homeless as a major social issue. Her dedication to these and other causes led to her
being named the honorary mayor of Sherman Oaks in 1980.

In 1993 Hunt published The Way We Wore: Styles of the 1930s and ‘40s and Our World
Since Then, a classic look at Hollywood fashions of that era. And in 2007 she produced
Songs from the Heart, an album of jazz standards by Tony London and the Page
Cavanaugh Trio, which contains two of her original songs, “Simple Trust” and “Life Is a
Swing.”


LEAH DASHE (Lulu Vaughn)
A 2005 graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with a BA in film and
psychology, Leah Dashe made a name for herself on the college stage playing Goneril in
Seven Lears and the title role in Barbies That Matter. She made her professional acting
debut in 2006 as Electra in the Collegiate Players‟ production of The Oresteia. Since then
she has acted as a principal member of the Pan Theatre improvisational comedy troupe
and garnered a leading role in Custom Made Theater‟s A Very Brechty X-Mas.
In 2007 Dashe became a featured performer with the San Francisco-based Thrillpeddlers,
playing leading roles in Jonathan Horton‟s original series of plays The Juliet Drug, The
Glass Womb, and The Chaos Masquerade. It was there that she first worked with
writer/director Eddie Muller, starring as the doomed innocent Nini in his adaptation of
the Grand Guignol classic Orgy in the Lighthouse.

Her role in The Grand Inquisitor as Lulu Vaughn, a troubled girl who finds herself
dangerously obsessed with the unsolved Zodiac murders, is her film debut.

“Working with Marsha Hunt was initially terrifying. Here I am in my first film role, and
Marsha would be delighting everyone with stories about the Paramount contract she got
at 17, how Vincent Price was one of the sweetest men she ever knew, and how she saw a
“dumpy little girl” (Judy Garland) sing in a nightclub at age 12. Marsha, of course,
wouldn‟t allow my nervousness to remain. She immediately began my tutelage on how to
be a “star.” The night before shooting began, we arrived together (fashionably late) at
Eddie Muller's house for dinner with the crew. We walked in side by side, and when the
crew saw Marsha everyone jumped to their feet, clapping and cheering. I turned scarlet
and stepped to the side. Marsha stopped me with a touch on the arm and said, „No, no,
that isn‟t what we do.‟ She took my hand and whispered to me, „We bow.‟”

Dashe currently lives in Brooklyn, where she is pursuing a career in theater and film.
Contact her at Leah.Dashe@gmail.com.


EDDIE MULLER (Writer/Director)
Eddie Muller is a contemporary renaissance man. He has written novels, biographies,
movie histories, plays, short stories, and films. He also designs books, programs film
festivals, curates museum exhibitions, and provides commentary for television, radio, and
DVDs. Now he has added film direction to his resume.

His debut novel, The Distance, was honored with the Shamus Award from the Private
Eye Writers of America as the best first novel of 2002. It was recently published in
France by Fayard as Mister Boxe. Muller is a two-time Mystery Writers of America
Edgar Award nominee and twice an Anthony Award nominee.

Muller earned the nickname “The Czar of Noir” after the publication of his histories of
the subject, Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir, Dark City Dames: The Wicked
Women of Film Noir, and The Art of Noir: Posters and Graphics from the Classic Film
Noir Era. He is the founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation, a nonprofit
corporation dedicated to rescuing and restoring the genre‟s lost and damaged films.

Each January he produces and hosts NOIR CITY in San Francisco, the most expansive
and well-attended film noir festival in the United States. January 2008 will be the sixth
annual NOIR CITY festival.
Eddie is also the coauthor of the recent national bestseller Tab Hunter Confidential: The
Making of a Movie Star, nominated by the Lambda Literary Foundation as the best gay-
themed memoir of 2006.

Mau Mau Sex Sex (2001), an 82-minute documentary based on Muller‟s 1996 book
Grindhouse: The Forbidden World of Adults-Only Cinema, was one of the very first all-
digital films to play in American theaters. Muller was the film‟s writer and coproducer.

“Guilty Bystander,” Muller‟s newspaper column exploring the contemporary world of
crime fiction, appears monthly in the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review.


ANITA MONGA (Producer)
A founding member of the Film Noir Foundation, Anita Monga programs San
Francisco„s annual NOIR CITY festival as well as the Seattle International Film Festival
Group‟s SIFF Cinema. She has served as associate programming director of the Palm
Springs International Film Festival and programming director of the Palm Springs
International Festival of Short Films. She lives in Berkeley.


JONATHAN MARLOW (Director of Photography)
Despite occasional distractions, Jonathan Marlow is a cinematographer, critic, curator,
and composer. Not necessarily in that order. A moderately accomplished filmmaker with
more than 20 short films (and a little-seen feature) to his credit, he is presently the
president and CEO of the independent film distributor Cabinetic, with stops along the
way at Amazon.com (in its infancy) and the DVD/VOD service GreenCine. It is not
uncommon for Marlow to draw on his disparate experience in writing for numerous print
and online publications on assorted issues relating to the motion picture business. A
member of the board of directors of San Francisco Cinematheque, Marlow concurrently
consults for a handful of festivals and organizations devoted to the noble efforts of film
exhibition, production, and preservation. Furthermore, he regularly can be found hosting
film screenings throughout the country showcasing remarkable cinematic works
otherwise unavailable elsewhere.


IAN D. THOMAS (Sound Design and Music)
A native of San Francisco, Ian D. Thomas began his career as a classically trained
percussionist. For more than a decade he worked as a studio musician and live performer
before making the journey to the other end of the recording chain. After recording and
producing several bands in the late 1990s he eventually decided to combine his passion
for music and sound with his love of film. Aside from his sound design work in films
(Raging Cyclist, bgFATldy) and commercials (Toyota, Coke, Nike), he continues to write
music. His work has been featured on NBC‟s Pretender as well as Fox‟s Freakylinks. He
also writes about music for Film Score Monthly.
ROBERT ANDREW BLACKWOOD (Art Director)
“Blackie” has been involved in film for a real long time. He has done a whole lot of
films. Some of them even made it to the multiplex. Blackie turned his back on the major
studios and stuck with independent films because he felt it was better to rule in Hell than
to be a kiss-up in Heaven. Free estimates on decks, bathroom, and kitchen remodels.
Quality you can trust from start to finish. Blackwood Building CA-B889269.


HANNAH EAVES (Editor)
Hannah Eaves has lived a rather schizophrenic life. Stuck somewhere between her
hometown of Melbourne, Australia, and her adopted city of San Francisco, she has also
been caught between two careers. After graduating from film school in Melbourne, she
has worked in the video field as a freelance camerawoman, staff editor, and manager for
almost 10 years. Concurrently she has regularly published articles on a variety of topics,
often film related, for several publications, including the Santa Cruz Sentinel, SOMA
magazine, Grist, PopMatters, and GreenCine. She currently works as a web producer and
editor for Link TV.


ANDY SPLETZER (Assistant Director / Script Supervisor)
Andy Spletzer moved to Seattle in 1991 to help start the alternative weekly newspaper
The Stranger. Since then he has been a film critic, freelance writer, filmmaker, and film
programmer. As a script supervisor he has worked on Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin‟s
Super-8 feature Brand Upon the Brain! and the Sundance hit Police Beat as well as a
dozen other features and shorts. He is a programmer for the Seattle International Film
Festival, co-runs SIFF‟s year-round Screenwriters Salon, and is the production manager
for the upcoming PBS show Biz Kid$. He has made a number of short films that have
played at festivals all over the country, and he is a fan of Vikings, hoboes, pirates, and
robots.


CAMMI UPTON (Special Makeup Effects)
Originally from Seattle, Cammi Upton has always been interested in art. She enrolled in a
school for makeup effects in Pittsburgh when she saw that she could combine her art with
her love of movies. She studied under, and remains friends with, Dick Smith, the
godfather of special-effects makeup. While in school she worked on smaller films that led
to a makeup assistant job on the movie Smart People. She learned a lot from the makeup
department head, Judy Chin, and is able to apply what she was taught on every project
she has worked on. Since moving to California she hopes to continue to do the work she
loves and see where it takes her.


MEGAN RIBLE (Special Digital Effects)
Megan Rible is a fifth-generation San Franciscan and an eleventh-generation Californian.
After graduating from Stanford with a degree in computer science, she astonished her
friends and family by saying she wanted to go to art school to learn computer graphics
and visual effects. The extra years paid off, and she landed her dream job at Industrial
Light & Magic, George Lucas‟s visual-effects company, where she is currently working
in tech support writing software tools and assisting artists. She is thrilled to have this
opportunity to put her artistic skills to good use as she works toward her goal of
becoming a technical director at ILM.


THE GRAND INQUISITOR
PRODUCTION CREDITS

writer and director
EDDIE MULLER

executive producer
KATHLEEN MILNE

producer
ANITA MONGA

director of photography
JONATHAN MARLOW

editor
HANNAH EAVES

sound design and music
IAN D. THOMAS

art director
ROBERT ANDREW BLACKWOOD

assistant director / script supervisor
ANDY SPLETZER

makeup effects
CAMMI UPTON

digital effects
MEGAN RIBLE

production associate
ANDREA KASIN

boom operator
SCOTT KOUE
gaffer
CALVIN SOUTHER

still photographer
DAVID M. ALLEN
THE GRAND INQUISITOR
FILM PROGRAM SYNOPSES


THE GRAND INQUISITOR (50 words)
Legendary blacklisted actress Marsha Hunt, 90, returns to the screen in a noir fairy tale
based on actual events. A cache of used books leads a young woman to the door of a
woman who may or may not be the widow of America‟s most notorious unapprehended
serial killer.


THE GRAND INQUISITOR (100 words)
Legendary blacklisted Hollywood actress Marsha Hunt, 90, makes a stunning return to
the screen in this haunting short film that writer/director Eddie Muller describes as “a
noir fairy tale based on actual events.” Lulu Vaughn (Leah Dashe) is a young woman
who discovers a cache of used books that she believes holds clues to the solution of
decades-old crimes. When the authorities dismiss her, she takes matters into her own
hands, ringing the doorbell of Hazel Reedy (Hunt), who may or may not be the widow of
America‟s most notorious unapprehended serial killer. Their cross-generational
confrontation leads to an unexpected and shocking conclusion.


THE GRAND INQUISITOR (150 words)
Legendary blacklisted Hollywood actress Marsha Hunt makes a stunning return to the
screen in this haunting short film that writer/director Eddie Muller describes as “a noir
fairy tale based on actual events.” Lulu Vaughn (Leah Dashe) is a young woman who
discovers a cache of used books that she believes holds clues to the solution of decades-
old crimes. When authorities dismiss her, she takes matters into her own hands, ringing
the doorbell of Hazel Reedy (Hunt), who may or may not be the widow of America‟s
most notorious unapprehended serial killer. The cross-generational confrontation leads to
an unexpected and shocking conclusion. Muller, nicknamed “The Czar of Noir” for his
renown as a novelist and film noir historian and preservationist, adapted the film from his
own short story. Hunt, now 90 years of age, starred in such classic films as Pride and
Prejudice (1940), The Human Comedy (1943), and Raw Deal (1948) and proves in a
memorable performance that the Communist witch hunt of the 1940s cut short a
phenomenal acting career.

				
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