Cinema Classics, WCBE’s weekly program that eavesdrops on film-related conversations between John DeSando and Johnny DiLoretto, boasts a freeform broadcast of informative, insightful, sometimes argumentative discussions. John and Johnny pick a cinematic topic – from a classic flick to the importance of Oscar nominee ages – and hash it out every Thursday night at 8 o’clock.
Says DiLoretto, “Cinema Classics started as a spinoff of John DeSando’s It’s Movie Time show. He asked me if I wanted to work with him, and I said, ‘Yes, but if you want to do this, it’s going to be all conversational, off the cuff and improvised.’”
DeSando reluctantly agreed, and an award-winning show was born. “It’s been great. John and I have been friends for years, we have an instant rapport, and what’s great is that Cinema Classics has become whatever we want to talk about.”
This Friday night, they’re inviting you to join them live and in person as their program spills over into Johnny’s other gig as the director of operations at Gateway Film Center, which has added its own Cinema Classics film program. John and Johnny will be on hand as the film center screens Raging Bull as part of that series.
But hurry, this may be a limited offer.
According to DiLoretto, the program was intended to be a monthly series, which he and DeSando were to help Gateway president Chris Hamel curate.
“It launched last September,” says DiLoretto. “We kicked off with Dr. Strangelove, then we did Touch of Evil, then I convinced these guys to book Tootsie in November. But what happened was, it was football season and nobody came.”
“Nobody. Literally nobody to Tootsie, and I had to put myself on the line for that one. One of the best comedies of all time, I was thinking. Who wouldn’t want to see this movie? They don’t make movies like this anymore, it’s great! And zero people came.”
It was time to regroup.
“I told Chris, we don’t have to do a movie series. Maybe we regroup after the new year, or maybe we just scrap it. But let me see Raging Bull on the big screen first,” said DiLoretto. “Then you can scrap it.”
Hamel remembers it somewhat differently.
“How did he say we ended up with Raging Bull?” Hamel asked. “It was me. I wanted to see Raging Bull.”
“Raging Bull is kind of Chris’s gift to me,” counter-claims DiLoretto.
Whatever the reasoning behind it, Cinema Classics returns for perhaps the last time to the Gateway this weekend, offering Scorsese’s masterpiece boxing biopic. Robert DeNiro delivers a searing performance as boxer Jake LaMotta – one that nabbed him a richly deserved Oscar – in a film dripping with brutality, humanity, pathos and rot.
The violent ballet of the boxing sequences and the primal glory of DeNiro’s performance, all filmed in sparkling black and white by Oscar nominated cinematographer Michael Chapman, beg for the big screen treatment. And maybe cocktails.
“We’re not doing a whole lot built around it,” says DiLoretto. “I am just saying, unofficially, I will be available and John will be available an hour before the movie, so we’ll have some drinks, we’ll talk, whatever you want. And if you want to hang out after the movie and discuss it, we will too. I love cocktail fueled conversation about movies.”
The whole thing puts DiLoretto in an optimistic mood.
“You know what? This really is a great idea, to show these movies. And I want people to come see this film on the big screen. It’s one of my favorite films. It’s an astonishing film and it features one of the most amazing performances. So, if we can get an audience here to see it, maybe there will be another Cinema Classics screening.”
And if not?
“I don’t care, because I will have seen Raging Bull on the big screen.”
originally published on Columbus Underground