Sunday, September 07, 2014

The Search for Count Dante Trailer, Aug_2014 from Floyd Webb on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year! Yesterday, Dec 31, I got a message from the great beyond. It was an omen telling me to keep going. The road has been long and I am on a few 10s of thousands away from completing the film. LOL

This is from Daily Variety, Sept 6, 7, 10 11 and 12, 1973. What happened as a result of the adverts? Well I have a basis and timeline line for researching it. It has been said he did a screentest with a company in LA. But nothing has turned up so far. 

One thing is for sure, it is yet another confirmation of Dante's relentless seeking of his fame and fortune.

I am grateful to all who brought this to my attention, John Threat and Dan Kelly especially.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

RIP Jim Kelly: The Interview I never got.

Jim Kelly as Williams in Enter The Dragon
Jim Kelly as Williams in Enter The Dragon, with Kein Shih as Mr Han.
"Man, you come straight out of a comic book!" That is Jim Kelly's famous line from the Bruce Lee film, Enter The Dragon   I sought him out in the course of making my documentary film,The Search for Count Dante. It was that line he said to Mr Han, who was played by Kien Shih. I was curious about whether the line had anything to do with the Count Dante comic book adverts, I was curious if it was part of thescript or if he had ad-libbed it. I follow crazy leads and yes, it would have been great to have him as an interview in my film. 

I first saw Jim Kelly in the film MELINDA with Calvin Lockhart in 1972. This was the year Five Fingers of Death hit the screens. MELINDA was a very impressive debut for Kelly. Melinda was directed by former sound man Hugh Robertson, one of the first people I ever met in LA during my 1971 debacle of a trip at 17 to sell a screenplay. Hugh was nominated for an Academy Award in 1969 for Best Editing on Midnight Cowboy. Hugh had also worked on my surrealistic film noir favorite, Mickey One and Shirley' Clarke's Cool World. Back then I remembered everything, not so much now. He was impressed I knew either of those films. 

I think it was my source, Bob Wall who got me Kelly's phone number. Bob Wall, played the heavy in Enter The Dragon. You remember him, the guy with the scarface that Bruce serves up his special dish to? Well Bob runs and knows everybody and is a wonderful human being. He has been very helpful like that. 

Jim and I talked on the phone before I went to Comic Con in 2009. I asked him for an interview. I was told he had been in Chicago. He worked for Delta Airlines. He worked the ticket counter at Merchandise Mart. He came here to study martial arts he said, but he never met Count Dante. He started studying martial arts when he was in college with Parker Shelton, he then quit school to come to Chicago to really focus on martial arts. He told me
Bob "Scarface" Wall with Bruce Lee
he studied with some people on Mannheim Rd near O'Hare Airport.

He was a bit guarded. He told me he would not be very useful to me as an interview. I let it go at that. But he called me back about 20 minutes later, we talked almost an hour about martial arts in general but not very much more about himself in Chicago studying martial arts. We met up at Comic Con when I got there, still no interview. He was sharing a booth with the Eric "Lionman" O'Neal of the Lionman Foundation. I never did figure out why he ran so hot and cold at the subject of Chicago and his time here. 

The role Bruce Lee was supposed to get,
Kwai Chang Caine, in the
KUNG FU TV series.
We had a good talk, argued about whether Enter The Dragon was the greatest martial arts film ever made, him and the Lion Man against me. I thought not. It definitely made the most money. It was certainly the greatest of Jim's time. But my pants don't sync that way. We had a wonderful debate. I include japanese chambara films in list and Sword of Doom with Tatsuya Nakadai always comes to mind, as well as King Hu's films like Dragon Gate Inn and Touch of Zen. And of late films like Merantau and Wong Kar Wai's recent The Grandmaster really resonate with me. It is about what we are exposed to. We had Omar Kaihatsu's Japanese Cinema every month at Francis Parker auditorium. To me Bruce Lee's Chinese Connection was and shall always be the shit. Raw, out of control with that b-movie saccharine sweetness. For me, great as Enter the Dragon might seem, it was like Charlie Parker with Strings. I bet Bruce felt like that too. Art gets lost in the
middle of too much spectacle. But commerce won out, and Bruce was back to low budget productions, getting no love from Hollywood. He would never get to be Kwai Chang Caine (too oriental looking).
The Chinese Connection

I did not get to know Jim well in those brief phone calls and the two times I tried to coax him into an interview at Comic Con, but I appreciated his honesty. There are a of bullshitters out here. 

Nganga Tolo-naa aka
Ray "The Chicago Tiger" C00per
Above is my parting photo of him after the big debate where Lionman tried to Bogart me with his credentials and abilities. I was like "Dude, I am from Chicago, I know the great martial artists. We had Tolo-naa, The Baker Brothers and Oso Tayari Casel in Chicago, dude, and we had that wild ass John Keehan who taught everybody back in the early 60s."

In the end we were all laughing. All macho bravado. Mr O'neal is too young to know who those names were, but Kelly did. 

It is a shame he did not want to sit down with me and recount his history in martial arts. It would have been invaluable. 

Good journey Mr Kelly.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Production of The Search for Count Dante Continues.

The Search for Count Dante continues. People have been writing to ask the status of things, am I continuing with the film, have I been kidnapped by ninjas, attacked by the Black Dragon Fighting Society or any of their secret society associates?  

I have interviewed countless Chicagoans who were present and active in martial arts during the early sixties. and Life intercedes when it wants to in the midst of our endeavors. Films get made by sheer determination, not just because it is a good idea.

"Independent film makin' ain't easy, but somebody gots to do it." I won't bore you with the details except to say, this is a journey that is not over yet. I do need to clarify some things right off the bat. It has been a long haul making this film; the characters I have had to deal with have gone from bad to worse.
I have been insulted by Ashida Kim, the most notorius Ninja on the internet, highly insulted to the point that I made it clear I was not accepting this kind of behavior, even from a 65 year old Ninja. It 's like we are all back in high school. We had some exchanges on Facebook, Kim and another Black Dragon member who tended to be very disrespectful in that "I am going to kick your ass over the internet" so many flamers use going bacj to the days of old school bulletin boards. They have even told people I was now in bed with Green Dragon Society becae i don't want to hang out with the Black Dragons and tell the story they WANT me to tell. WTF? We are back in high school!!! This nonsense killed my appetite for any contact with these guys. especially after 3 years of Fall River Black Dragon crap in Boston Federal Court, I won. Controversy of every sort has surrounded this film from the very beginning. still I persevere. Why? It is a story I want to tellIt rises above John Keehan/Count Dante's meteoric moment and explores the social history of martial arts, race relations, Chicago's history and legacy as a well spring of Mixed Martial Arts in the early 1900s. All I want to do is finish this film, not become part of some late middle-aged martial artists angst and drama. Rank and notoriety seems to be what drives some people, while Dante eschewed the vagaries of rank as a useless indicator of fighting skills. It gives me pause. First of all, Sensei Doug Dwyer, a close associate of John Keehan once upon a time, wants it known he was never a member of the Black Dragon Fighting Society. He worked with Keehan from the early to mid-1960s and helped him start the World Karate Federation. He broke with Keehan when he became Count Dante and tended to his own school. He has made it known that he wants his name removed from all materials online regarding the Black Dragon Fighting Society. It is a small thing to ask. In the making of my film I inadvertently and maybe foolishly connected a lot of people together. People would find out who I had interviewed and asked for contacts. I seldom share my resources without the permission of the party involved. I connected Doug to people who are not so gracious with other people’s personal information. For that I am sorry. Lesson learned. Douglas Dwyer is a consummate and complete traditional martial artist of a caliber seldom seen today. He is a jocular man of good spirits, and this kindness is often misinterpreted and that is a shame. Playing him for the fool is not a good idea. Doug has been a good friend and advisor to me. He was there in the 1960s martial arts world and has the pictures, books, photos and documentation to back it up. His life has been dedicated to the ART in marital arts, and at his youthfully mature age, he can still make ya sit up and listen. I have had quite a few people come to me with stories about Dante and when we get in front of the camera, the false claims go away. It seems they realize that this becomes a permanent record of their words for the entire world to see and refute. My blog has been dredged to make up a history of the Black Dragon Fighting Society that includes someone named Senzo Tanaka and Frank Dux. Dux has acquired stories from my blog and from stories he has heard only to re-spin them to include himself as an active participant and student of John Keehan, when in fact he would have been 10 years old in Chicago. Senzo Tiger Tanaka was a character in the James Bond film, You Only Live twice. In none of his earlier writings has Dux mentioned Count Dante or the Black Dragon Fighting Society, why now? I raise these questions because Dux has used the internet to include himself in a history he clearly was not part of. My research is online and people who feel they can do with it as they will should get use to the fact if I see it "chock fulla lies" I will debunk how it is used as needed and take other actions deemed appropriate in a legal sense. There has been no proven association between the Kokuryukai and The Black Dragon Fighting Society. There are anecdotes and inferences, but none proven as of yet. My research goes all the way to Japan on this where it is still hard to get people to talk about this secret society. I have attained good resources on the presence of the Kokuryukai in the US but no direct link. I will reveal some things about this in the film. I have no opinion of Frank Dux as a martial artist, CIA operative, Kumite fighter, now most recently pioneer of MAA with a film dealetc, etc. It's a nice gig if you can sell it. What I do know is that his actions have been an affront. I challenge Frank Dux to come up with pictures showing he was here in Chicago at the age of 9 years or ten years old studying with Count Dante or credible witnesses who were students of John Keehan in the early to mid-1960s. How Frank Dux could have been in Chicago long enough to claim to have studied with Count Dante and never mention it until 2008 seems a but incredulous. Maybe he was sworn to secrecy? There were a lot of Franks around, it is a common name. Dux is not so common a last name. Unless I am mistaken, by the mid-1960s Keehan/Dante did not teach students below black belt. So Dux's claims of being in any of Dante classes stretch his credibility. As for him taking Count Dante's place in a death match because Dante died in 1975, well that strains the truth in all kinds of ways. Why did he not talk about this when he wrote the articles for Black Belt Magazine back in 1980? In all his writing and interviews, which have been far and in-between, he never mentioned Chicago or any association with John Keehan.
As you can probably tell, I am very skeptical about these claims of his. Maybe I am wrong. I have not met one old school martial artist here who has ever mentioned a Frank Dux presence in Chicago, and we DO love our martial arts folklore here. Dux, as far as I know, ain't in it. In the making of this film I have learned that many people are desperate to be part of this chaotic legacy, in truth or falsehood. It is not John Keehan they pine for as much as the legend of Count Dante, a very real and talented martial artist who fell a little too far into his comic book ad persona.
The late Joe Lewis and I talke several times and tried to arrange an interview. I found him to be an absolute gentleman. I found his number in my cellphone the other day, We never arranged to meet due to his constant travelling and mine. but here is a clip of him talking about Count Dante in a clip I got from a writer in London.
Count Dante: Hands Like A Woman -Kickstarter from Floyd Webb on Vimeo.

Oh yeah, we had a Kickstarter campaign that we did not win. We will do it again learning from MY past mistakes. Watch for it!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The new Count Dante iPhone app is  available in the iTunes store:

For .99 you get 10 self-defense lesson and a histor of Count Dante and his contribution to Mixed Martial Arts.

Not bad for for less than a buck in the midst of a recession.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jiu Jitsu adverts in Chicago in 1904

This advert is from the Chicago Tribune classified section, 1904, 35 years before Count Dante was born in 1939 and 64 years before his World's Deadliest Fighting Secrets was published Asian martial arts were already being touted as a self defense secret weapon.

By the time John Timothy Keehan is born in Chicago in 1939, jiu jitsu is almost a common word, used in contemporary speech and denoted awesome powers to disarm, wrap-up and break.

Getting Ready for the Rap Up!

Been months since my last post. Secret investigations require secrecy. With all the crap I got I decided to tone it down with the blogging. I felt like I was accomplishing little, and I could be better served with silence.

Yet there is value in a shared experience. I have had some crazy stuff happen and I have befriended some awesome people. Enough said about that.

Some of my work lately has been on early martial arts history in Chicago.

I will talk about that here in future. There was someone offering jiu jitsu lessons on 36th and State Street in 1908. That's of some interest to me.

Chicago has been a martial art city for a century. But what does that mean? This is one of the questions raised for me as I complete this documentary.

To talk about John Keehan/Count Dante outside the context of a complex social history and it's cross cultural relationships just seems a bit lazy.

I can still make it fun and respectful to the living witnesses and family members who have survived some of the seedier and horrible sides of the story.

So consider me back. Lots of surprising things have occurred. Old rivalries have softened, maybe even to the point of cooperation. We will see. I am open to anything that allows for the most accurate telling of this tale.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Back again, New Challenges, New Hurdles, Good Progress and Marvin Gaye

It has been 6 months since my last post. I have been continuing to conduct interviews, follow up on leads all in between day to day struggles of work and survival. The Search for Count Dante continues. Sorting out and vetting delusion accounts of his history is a big part of the job.

Why did I stop blogging. Vetting the delusion was one reason, especially after 3 years of court. Best of all reason - I was shooting and had become more obsessed with the footage I was getting and less inclined to blog. Plus there was work and Lord knows we need that these days. I am now going to make my flute hours blog time. I know I will not be doing my Eric Dolphy recital for some time now. :-)

I have a financial partner, in London.  He showed up right on time. Really good guy with both feet in the Mixed Martial Arts world in the UK.  He is a shrewd business sort. I like this dude. His involvement enabled me to upgrade equipment and get some very important things done. I got a respite and was able to reorganize some thing and get ready for the editor.  I have chosen an editor. I will reveal all at a later date.

After the Fall River/Boston Federal Court runnings got disposed of I thought I was home free. But noooooo...Dealing with the Dante story carries some heavy baggage along with it.  The sharks are gathering. There is a new chapter in the making of the doc and a feature film looms large in a not too distant horizon and . I have had about 5 production companies come to me about the feature film rights.What am I supposed to say?  I got a buy out price, but now of these guys wanted to talk money. Like I am 19 and just anxious to "be there." No, I want to finish this project free of those types.

People are free to do what they want and 2 of the people who approached me decided to do their own Count Dante feature project without me. As if I care. :-)

One guy tried to get someone I know, Bob Calhoun, to write a treatment for him so he could take it to the studios for financing. He declined out of his own sense of loyalty and also because he is a working writer with more than enough on his plate. He was writing his awesome tome, Beer, Blood & Cornmeal: Seven Years of Strange Wrestling. You wanna talk ready for film? There is a book ready for a feature.

Suddenly the new year bring a renewed interest in Dante. I got emails from people when Grindhouse actress Tura Satana (Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill) died. They asked me if I knew of any relationship between her and Dante. It was easily researched. By now I know enough nefarious characters to run this kind of stuff down and get great anecdotes as well.  I get emails from people about magic, and potions, rumors of Dante dying, shot in Florida instead of in his bathroom on North Sheridan in Chicago. I am clear and free of legal threats against my right to make this film as I see fit. I am without the constraints of covetous pretenders.  But I still find myself set upon by another level of sleaziness, that I guess, comes with the territory.

Like a long marching Chinese philosopher said, on a good day, "Let a thousand flowers bloom and a thousand schools of thought contend." I mean there are 4 Marvin Gaye projects going on right now. None are being produced in the US presently. The projects have been struggling. Then, along comes British director Julien Temple (Eternity Man, 2008) and he pulls a Belgian financing tax shelter and Luxembourg’s CIAV(audiovisual investment certificates) rabbit out of a hat, about the size of $8 million dollars, making a film about Gaye's days in Oostende, Belgium. In a self-imposed exile, Gaye made the album, Midnight Love while recovering from the death of Tammy Terrell, tax problems and general disillusionment. I actually ran into him down there on the docks when I got off a ferry one time as I was headed to Amsterdam by bus from London,  I think, in the early 80s. This is where one of the best music docs about him, was made.  Richard Olivier's Marvin Gaye: Transit Oostende, how I treasure that film. What a sublime exile he was able to experience. 

Right now my interest is in finishing this doc. I have the story now. And now that I have the story for the doc, I know what a feature film will look like.  I did not know a year ago, while I was in the middle of court. I had 3 companies hit me up and they all wanted some control over the doc as part of a financing package that has nothing to do with my need to finish the doc itself in order to define a cohesive story and maybe solve some of the mysteries and mythologies of this enigmatic character, Count Dante. Who needs those kinds of headaches, until cash is put to palm. No was forthcoming, only promises of headaches to come. I have seen it all before.

Boxer Johnny Coulon, Keehan/Dante's boxing instructor, looms large with me right now.  What a character. Yet another Chicago character. This is what I love best about what I am doing. It is an investigation into ALL of Chicago through this "ginger-headaed" Irish lad" as author Robert Rankin describes him. I have been unraveling mysteries for sure. Making sense of it all, the structure...the structure...that is what I am struggling with now.

Who knows what the future holds? I know, a completed well executed doc with a great soundtrack.
As for the coming war of the Dante features? Ya just never know what can happen and that is what makes the world an exciting place.  Heh, heh heh!!!