Abram S. Ginnes, 91, Blacklisted Film & TV Writer

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Stephen Bowie

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May 22, 2006, 12:30:20 PM5/22/06
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Abram S. Ginnes, an enormously talented writer whom I had the pleasure
of knowing during his last years, died Saturday in Los Angeles
following a long illness. He was 91.

Ginnes was nominated for a Writers Guild Award for his only screenplay,
Gaily Gaily (1969), an adaptation of Ben Hecht's memoirs. Before
that he wrote extensively for radio, television and the theatre,
specializing in cop shows and flavorful tales of New York City life
that drew upon his own Brooklyn upbringing.

Ginnes was an unapologetic radical for his entire life, and as a result
he was blacklisted for several years during the 1950s. Like most
artists who ran afoul of the McCarthy-era witchhunts, Ginnes found
himself out of work just as his career was beginning to gather
momentum. He worked behind fronts for a while and finally became
widely employable after the debut of his Broadway show, Drink to Me
Only.

Ginnes' comeback from the blacklist took the form, primarily, of a
baker's dozen of hour-long scripts for the New York-based police
drama Naked City. Naked City was always an anthology in disguise (the
writers struggled to get the cops into their stories), and Abe's
contributions were all perfectly polished gems that reflected his wry,
offbeat, and optimistic outlook on life. They were obsessively
psychoanalytical, deeply interested in folklore and outsider
communities, and dabbled in a surrealism that was highly unusual for TV
at the time. I could go on about these amazing, largely unknown works,
but most of them are on DVD and I encourage anyone who's interested
to seek them out; the episode titles alone are a testament to Ginnes'
wild imagination:

The Night the Saints Lost Their Halos
Let Me Die Before I Wake
The One Marked Hot Gives Cold
...And If Any Are Frozen, Warm Them!...
Memory of a Red Trolley Car
...And By the Sweat of Thy Brow...
Kill Me While I'm Young So I Can Die Happy
A Horse Has a Big Head - Let Him Worry!
King Stanislaus and the Knights of the Round Stable
Robin Hood and Clarence Darrow, They Went Out With the Bow and Arrow
No Naked Ladies in Front of Giovanni's House!

Ginnes' other TV credits include scripts for Big Story, Philco
Television Playhouse, Armstrong Circle Theatre, Decoy, Brenner, The
Untouchables, Adventures in Paradise, The Asphalt Jungle, Hawaii
Five-O, Police Woman, and Jessie, but few of these were as personal as
the work he did for Naked City in 1961-1962. He should have enjoyed a
more substantial post-blacklist career, but like Abraham Polonsky and
others, Ginnes' comeback was cut short by ageism and a decided
inability to suffer fools gladly.

One of the last moviemakers to arrive in Hollywood following a wholly
different earlier career, Ginnes began writing professionally (for
radio's The Goldbergs) around the age of 35, following stints as a
labor organizer and as the owner of a jazz nightclub in Chicago in the
thirties. When I met Abe he was beginning to get a bit frail, but
I'm told he was an avid partier, ladies' man, raconteur, arguer,
and a man who lived life to the fullest.

Abe is survived by a loving family, including his wife of nearly 20
years, Dione.


(The text of the above was written by me, based on interviews with
Ginnes and other research.)

Hyfler/Rosner

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May 23, 2006, 10:47:58 PM5/23/06
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"Stephen Bowie" <stephe...@hotmail.com> wrote in message

>
> Ginnes' comeback from the blacklist took the form,
> primarily, of a
> baker's dozen of hour-long scripts for the New York-based
> police
> drama Naked City. Naked City was always an anthology in
> disguise (the
> writers struggled to get the cops into their stories), and
> Abe's
> contributions were all perfectly polished gems that
> reflected his wry,
> offbeat, and optimistic outlook on life. They were
> obsessively
> psychoanalytical, deeply interested in folklore and
> outsider
> communities, and dabbled in a surrealism that was highly
> unusual for TV
> at the time. I could go on about these amazing, largely
> unknown works,
> but most of them are on DVD and I encourage anyone who's
> interested
> to seek them out; the episode titles alone are a testament
> to Ginnes'
> wild imagination:


Great obit. Thanks for sharing. As for Naked City,
wonderful shows. I love seeing a NYC that's all but
disappeared.


King Daevid MacKenzie

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May 23, 2006, 11:02:29 PM5/23/06
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Hyfler/Rosner sez:

> As for Naked City,
> wonderful shows. I love seeing a NYC that's all but
> disappeared.

...a one-time acquaintance claimed the '50s version of "Dragnet" and
"Superman" serve the same purpose for the Los Angeles he grew up in...

--
King Daevid MacKenzie, WLSU-FM 88.9 La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA
heard Sundays 8:00 A.M. PST/PDT over KRFP-LP 92.5 Moscow, Idaho and at
http://www.krfp.org/documents/listen_windowsmedia.asx
archived in mp3 at http://www.radio4all.net
http://www.myspace.com/kingdaevid
"You can live in your dreams, but only if you are worthy of them."
HARLAN ELLISON

Brad Ferguson

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May 24, 2006, 5:11:17 AM5/24/06
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In article <-PidnVtCquf9VO7Z...@rcn.net>, Hyfler/Rosner
<rel...@rcn.com> wrote:


I just saw "Sweet Smell of Success" again, and for the same reason.
Plus, that one has the interiors of the old Manhattan nightclubs in it.

"A Thousand Clowns" has a ton of location stuff, which is pretty much
the only reason to watch it. Some Woody Allens have aged so much by
now that their New Yorks have gone, too.

"The World, the Flesh and the Devil" was on TCM last night. I don't
know how you'd manage to do that one today, but then again they managed
"28 Days Later" on a London weekday.

Hyfler/Rosner

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May 24, 2006, 9:12:58 AM5/24/06
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"Brad Ferguson" <thir...@frXOXed.net> wrote in message
news:240520060511172485%\> I just saw

Some Woody Allens have aged so much by
> now that their New Yorks have gone, too.

The Beekman Theater is gone. Hole in the ground about to
become an extension of Memorial Sloan-Kettering.

http://cinematreasures.org/theater/306/

Every Woody Allen film opened there. And at least one has a
famous scene there.

http://www.filmsite.org/anni.html

Next time you rent Manhattan Murder Mystery, however, you
can see my apartment house. Which is still here.


A Woody Allen Walking Tour of New York City
He'll take Manhattan: from Annie Hall to Zelig

Chris Epting
Tuesday, July 27, 2004;

As the Republican Convention unfolds in New York, the drama
will be mostly focused on platform planks, policy,
speechmaking, sound bites and the like. There will be
characters of all sorts paraded across the stage, and New
York will become a mere backdrop for lots of partisan
politics and protests. But for those in search of the Big
Apple's real spirit, it would behoove both visiting
Republicans and full-time New Yorkers alike to take a tour
of the sites that have become more familiar courtesy of
Woody Allen, whose films serve as loving, visual (and
sometimes neurotic) reminders of what makes New York such a
personally affecting place. Woody's New York is an authentic
New York; as much about offbeat delis and street corners as
it is about skylines and museums.

So if you're ready to walk off some angst, then let's visit
some of Woody Allen's most memorable New York filming
locations.

1977 - Annie Hall

Considered by many to be his best ever, the bittersweet
story of a quirky neurotic named Annie Hall did as much for
alternative female fashions as it did for the filmmaker's
career. All of a sudden, women were wearing men's ties,
vests and hats, and Woody was viewed as more of an "artist"
who dealt with adult themes and humor versus some of his
lighter works (i.e. Sleeper and Love and Death).
Autobiographical or not, Annie Hall won Oscars that year for
Best Picture, Best Actress (Diane Keaton), Director (Woody
Allen), and Original Screenplay.

Some of the film's more memorable landmarks include the
Beekman Theatre, located at 1254 Second Avenue. This is
where Alvy Singer (Woody) is accosted by a fan who
recognizes him (when Annie is late for the movie and Alvy is
waiting outside for her.) Another theater, the Thalia
Cinema, was once located at 250 West 95th Street. Torn down
in 1987, this was where Alvy bumped into Annie (as she takes
her new boyfriend to see The Sorrow and the Pity) at the
ending to Annie Hall. As far as Annie's apartment goes,
while the exact location remains a mystery, it was
definitely located somewhere on 70th Street between
Lexington and Park Avenues.

1979 - Manhattan

Manhattan remains a favorite of most Woody Allen
aficionados. Shot in stark black and white and set to a
powerful Gershwin score, it dealt with awkward adult themes
in a genuinely touching manner, and featured a wonderfully
sinister turn by Meryl Streep (as Woody's estranged,
now-lesbian ex). A young Mariel Hemingway played Woody's
teenage love interest in the film, and it was at John's
Pizzeria (278 Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village) where
she broke the news to him that she was off to London to
study. A real-life haunt of Woody's, the classic New York
restaurant Elaine's, (1703 Second Avenue between East 88th
and East 89th Street) is where the film opens, with Woody
waxing on to his friends about the trials and tribulations
of dating a 17-year old. The iconic poster image for the
film of Woody and Diane Keaton seating on a bench together
was shot at Riverview Terrace on Sutton Square, just beneath
the 59th Street Bridge on the east side of Manhattan.
Perhaps the most famous scene from the movie, this is where
Woody and Diane Keaton watch the sun come up together, in
the shadow of the bridge. (There's no longer a bench located
where the pair sat.)

1984 - Broadway Danny Rose

This 1984 effort focused on the career of Danny Rose, a
small-time, two-bit Broadway talent agent whose roster of
hopeless, hapless clients and bad luck send him on a series
of adventures, recalled by some old Borscht belt comedians
who swap Danny Rose stories at one of New York's most famous
delis, The Carnegie. Another real life spot frequented by
Woody Allen over the years, it remains virtually unchanged
since the film and also stands as one of the most authentic
New York culinary experiences. The Carnegie Deli is located
at 854 Seventh Avenue.

1986 - Hannah and Her Sisters

Another critical and box office success, Hannah and Her
Sisters focused primarily on the complex lives and
relationships of several women (including "Hannah," played
Mia Farrow) and also featured wonderful performances by
Michael Caine, Max Von Sydow and Maureen O'Sullivan, among
others. A sophisticated, deeply emotional (and also very
funny) film, Hannah and Her Sisters featured many New York
City locations. Pomander Walk, located at 260-266 West 95th
Street (through to 94th Street) is where the architect
(played by Sam Waterston) takes Dianne Wiest and Carrie
Fisher on a favorite building tour, including a walk through
this beautiful mock-Tudor village.The Langham, located at
135 Central Park West, was where Hannah lived and where her
memorable Thanksgiving dinners were held each year. The St.
Regis-Sheraton Hotel (2 East 55th Street) is where Michael
Caine and Barbara Hershey conducted their clandestine affair
after meeting at the Pageant Print and Book Store (now the
Central Bar), located at 109 East Ninth Street in the East
Village.

1989 - Crimes and Misdemeanors

One of Allen's most poignant films, Crimes and Misdemeanors
posed deeply philosophical questions of moral absolutes (cut
with several comedic layers, including a brilliant turn by
Alan Alda as a successful television producer). The themes
of morals, values and ethics were played out across a wide
Manhattan stage, including the Bleecker Street Cinema in
Greenwich Village. Unfortunately, the theater no longer
exists (it had been located at 144 Bleecker Street and is
now a video store). In the film, this is where Woody takes
his niece to see movies he feels will make her a better
person. (The theater is also where Aidan Quinn worked as a
projectionist in the Madonna movie, Desperately Seeking
Susan.) Alda offers Woody a job (directing a biography about
him) at the elegant Tavern on the Green restaurant, located
on Central Park West at 67th Street. And the big wedding
party that ends the film was staged in the world-famous
Waldorf Astoria Hotel, located at 301 Park Avenue.

1992 - Husbands and Wives

A novel, documentary-style of shooting distinguishes
Husbands and Wives, a layered drama dealing with marital,
post-marital and extra-marital relationships. In the film,
Mia Farrow's has lunch with the newly-single Judy Davis at
the Dean & Deluca Café, located at 121 Prince Street in
SoHo. Sidney Pollack and his airhead girlfriend go to the
movies at the 68th Street Playhouse, located at Third Avenue
and 68h Street.

1993 - Manhattan Murder Mystery

The basis for this film came from several ideas originally
rejected for Annie Hall, which (believe it or not) started
out as a murder mystery. Re-teamed with Diane Keaton, Allen
and Keaton play a married couple who suspect that their
neighbor may have killed his wife. Elaine's is feature once
again, as is the venerable 21 Club at 21 West 52nd Street. A
body is discovered at the fictitious Hotel Waldron, which in
reality is the exterior of the Hotel 17, located at 225 East
17th Street. The interior is a more famous hotel, the
Chelsea Hotel, located at 222 West 23rd Street. One of the
most famous artist hotels in the world, the Chelsea has been
home to everyone from Dylan Thomas to Bob Dylan.

1994 - Bullets Over Broadway

An ode to the Damon Runyon-era of the Great White Way,
Bullets Over Broadway featured one of Allen's best ensemble
casts, including Dianne Wiest, John Cusack and Chazz
Palminteri. The Belasco Theater, 111 West 44th Street, is
where playwright Cusack gets his play staged (backed by mob
money). For the Three Deuces Nightclub, Allen used the
ballroom of the New Yorker Hotel, located at 481 8th Avenue
(which he had also used for a scene in 1987's Radio Days.).
New York City remains one of the great "characters" in many
Woody Allen films; a living, breathing movie set that's as
integral to the story as the actors and actresses. So if
you're in town for the convention and you want to experience
a true slice of the Big Apple, take a look at some of the
cinematic spots he's helped immortalize. And of course, if
you live here, it's never too late for a "Woody Walking
Tour."

Chris Epting is the author of six books including James Dean
Died Here, The Location's of America's Pop Culture Landmarks
and the sequel, Marilyn Monroe Dyed Here, MORE Locations of
America's Pop Culture Landmarks, from Santa Monica Press. He
is currently at work on a new pop culture/travel book.


bway...@gmail.com

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May 24, 2006, 9:52:36 AM5/24/06
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King Daevid MacKenzie

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May 24, 2006, 12:37:43 PM5/24/06
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Brad Ferguson sez:

> "A Thousand Clowns" has a ton of location stuff, which is pretty much
> the only reason to watch it. Some Woody Allens have aged so much by
> now that their New Yorks have gone, too.

...meanwhile, John Hughes' Chicago of FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF remains
largely unchanged; the only big differences I can think of at the
moment would be the addition of the lights on Wrigley Field and the NBC
Tower right behind the Tribune...

Message has been deleted

src...@gmail.com

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Apr 22, 2013, 6:25:50 AM4/22/13
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I am a big fan of "Naked City." I especially liked (probably my favorite) the episode "A Horse Has a Big Head-Let Him Worry." I looked it up and saw Mr. Ginnes name. I can tell what a talented, gifted and loved man he was and am grateful for his contributions to us all.
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