Gone With The Pope/Blu Ray Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
The late great entertainer Duke Mitchell was a unique character to everyone that knew him. From his early days performing alongside Sammy Petrillo, to his later years when he began making indie films, Duke always did things his own way. In 1975 he began working on this film, (then known as Kiss The Ring) but it was never completed. 20 years later Grindhouse Releasing's Bob Murawaski and Sage Stallone discovered the footage and began a total restoration of the long forgotten production that would bring the movie back to life and fulfill Duke's wishes.
In Gone With The Pope, Duke stars as Paul, a criminal who is being released from prison after several years. Before leaving, he promises his best friends/fellow inmates Peter (Peter Milo), Luke (Jim Lo Bianco), John (John Murgia) and The Old Man (Lorenzo Dardado) that he will be waiting for them when they get out. Paul's soon back in the arms of his lady love Jean (Jeanne Hibbard) and the two begin to rekindle their estranged relationship. Meanwhile, Paul's old mob associates have plans to bring him back into the underworld. They want him to perform several hits on some people in Las Vegas and Los Angeles and he accepts, but gets some help from Giorgio (Giorgio Tavolieri) to save time. The murders go off as planned and not long after, Peter, Luke, John and The Old Man are out of the big house. As a way of giving them a fresh start on life, Paul plans a celebratory boat trip all the way from Los Angeles to Rome, Italy. The excursion will culminate with Paul's grand scheme to kidnap none other than Pope Paul (Lorenzo Dardado in a second role)! His ransom: a dollar from every Catholic in the world, I mean, how can ya lose right? Peter, Luke, John and the Old Man can't believe Paul's insane plan but they go along with it like good soldiers anyway. It's clear they'd do anything for him. Only a guy like Paul could mastermind this kind of idea and he does so successfully but what he doesn't expect is that his good friends will be changed forever by this experience.
Along with his own rebellious attitude and style as an actor, Duke Mitchell showcases his talent for music in this movie and you'll hear several songs sung by Duke himself. There's even some fuzzed out rock n' roll tracks included by Duke's son Jeffrey that pump up the scenes even more. The standout track that I really dig is called "Jackknife" which can also be heard in the trailer. With a topic like kidnapping The Pope, Duke's own personal views on religion are also dealt with in the movie. He makes some very interesting, controversial points about the history of Catholicism but is able to show that above all, forgiveness and love always shine through the confusing hypocrisy and sin.
While Gone With The Pope is an entertaining, often comical mob/caper movie, it doesn't quite pack the punch that Duke's Massacre Mafia Style does. I think this is in part because the movie wasn't finished by Duke himself. It's still a very well crafted story that lets us see him in all his tough talking, wisecracking, outrageous glory. The supporting cast, made up mostly of Duke's non actor friends and acquaintances gives the film a quirky, charming quality but lets face it, these aren't award worthy performances by far.
Blu Ray Review
PICTURE: Presented in (1:85:1) 1080p High Definition. From found footage that was faded and quite damaged to a sublime restored transfer that will knock your socks off! You may or may not fall in love with the movie, but there's no denying the new Blu Ray is stunning. The movie looks so good it could've been shot yesterday. Just amazing work by Grindhouse Releasing on this project.
AUDIO: Viewers get to choose from three different ways to hear the movie: Dolby Mono 1.0, Stereo 2.0 or 5.1 Surround Sound. Mixed by Emmy Award winner Marti Humphrey.
- GONE WITH THE POPE - The Players: The main cast and crew including co-stars Jim Lo Bianco, Jim Murgia along with DP Peter Santoro, Editors Robert Florio and Mike Leighton take us back to their memorable time working on this small little indie film with the colorful, bombastic Duke Mitchell.
- SHOOTING GONE WITH THE POPE: Cinematographer Peter Santoro talks more in-depth about his experience working on the film and his methods of lighting and setting up the shots for Duke.
- RESTORING GONE WITH THE POPE: Cinematographer Peter Santoro explains the long process of how Grindhouse Releasing went about bringing Gone With the Pope back to life through extensive repairs and remastering work. They sure did an amazing job.
-DELETED SCENES/OUTTAKES/INSERTS: Get a look at several fun scenes that didn't make it into the final cut.
- FRANKIE CARR & THE NOV-ELITES LIVE IN LAS VEGAS: Exciting extra footage of the Las Vegas band featured in a sequence in the film.
HOLLYWOOD WORLD PREMIERE AT THE EGYPTIAN THEATER: Grindhouse Releasing's Bob Murawski, Duke's son Jeffrey Mitchell join co-star Jim Lo Bianco, Editors Robert Florio, Mike Leighton and DP Peter Santoro onstage for a conversation following the premiere 2010 screening of the movie.
THEATRICAL TRAILER - STILL GALLERIES - DUKE MITCHELL FILMOGRAPHY - GRINDHOUSE RELEASING TRAILERS
FINAL WORD: Gone With The Pope is another cult gem from Duke Mitchell, a guy who had so many talents and sadly never got around to doing more films due to an untimely death caused by cancer in 1981. His legion of fans should be grateful to Grindhouse Releasing for bringing his very special movies (Massacre Mafia Style and this one) to them with such extraordinary loving care. Cheers to them and the work of Duke Mitchell!
Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. He is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life.