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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Finally, the Duke is here and it's a thing of beauty!

Back in 2010, at midnight, some friends and I stepped into the Landmark Sunshine Cinema on the lower east side and witnessed a screening of Duke Mitchell's "lost, now found" movie Gone With The Pope.

We were forever changed.

It is a masterpiece. A hilarious, thoughtful, beautiful, crude, kick ass masterpiece.

Then came the years of waiting.

Grindhouse Releasing, who's co-founder Bob Murawski edited the film together, let the movie be screened in various independent or cult cinemas but always resisted a home video release due to 'wanting to maintain the authenticity of the cinematic experience'. This was all very well and either the ultimate act of film nerdom, incredibly pretentious, incredibly selfish or some combination of the three. Despite the statement, the film only played maybe once more in New York City in the last 5 years and that initial screening remains my only viewing of this mesmerising, inventive, grimy, B-Grade gem.

Then in 2013 hopes were raised when an announcement was made that Gone With The Pope (along with a lot of other of Grindhouse Releasing's titles) was to be released on Blu Ray. That was about 20 months ago.

In December of 2014 Duke Mitchell's only fully completed film in his lifetime, the influential, crazy, poetic and violent Massacre Mafia Style was made available for pre-order on Amazon. I was a little baffled that this was getting a Blu release first and miffed I'd seen nothing more about Gone With The Pope but I, of course, pre-ordered it and went about my day. While it doesn't have the sheer, mind-bending invention of Gone With The Pope, it is a tremendous example of independent, fun, weird and wonderful cinema.

Finally! There was an announcement today, seemingly out of the blue, that the home release of Gone With The Pope was available for pre-order via Incredible! Amazing! The wait is over and it tastes so sweet!

For those who don't know it, the story behind Gone With The Pope:
Duke Mitchell was a Sinatra style crooner. The self appointed “King of Palm Springs.”
Early in his career he also had a Martin and Lewis style comedy act with Sammy Petrillo.
Michell may have got the film bug when he was featured in the 1952 rare weirdness that is Bela Lugosi meets a Brooklyn Gorilla, and fans of The Flintstones cartoons should know Mitchell provided Fred’s Elvis like singing voice on a number of episodes.

Bob Murawski, who co-owns Grindhouse Releasing (originally with, the sadly now late, Sage Stallone), ended up watching Massacre Mafia Style and loving it. Wanting more Duke Mitchell, he set out to try and find him, only to discover that Duke had died in 1981.

Then the Grindhouse Releasing duo got in touch with Duke’s son Jeffrey who told Bob Murawski about Gone with the Pope. Seventeen reels had been shot and a rough assembly of the movie put together but Duke had died before he had a chance to finish it. Jeffrey Mitchell agreed that Bob Murawski could edit and complete the film. It took 15 years (Murawski is also an in-demand Hollywood editor) but he did the very best restoration and edit job he could to get Gone With The Pope into shape and what is revealed is a thing of pure, weird beauty.

The BLU RAY editions:


Release Date: March 24, 2015
- Spectacular 2K digital restoration from the original 35mm camera negative
- Three stunning audio options – mono, stereo and 5.1 – mixed by Emmy award-winning mixer Marti Humphrey
- In-depth interviews with stars Jim LoBianco and John Murgia, cinematographer Peter Santoro, editors Bob Leighton and Robert Florio, and legendary exploitation producer/director Matt Cimber
- Footage from the 2010 Hollywood World Premiere
- Deleted scenes and bloopers
- Liner notes by acclaimed horror novelist John Skipp
- Extensive still galleries and theatrical trailer


Release Date: Feb 10, 2015
- Incredible new hi-definition digital restoration of the original director’s cut
- Stunning digital restoration of the original mono soundtrack
- Interviews with Jeffrey Mitchell, Frankie Ray, George Jacobs, Jim LoBianco, and exploitation legend Matt Cimber
- Almost one full hour of never-before-seen Duke Mitchell home movies
- Lost audio recording – Duke Mitchell Live in Concert, June 9, 1960
- Extensive still galleries, radio spots, and theatrical trailer
- Glossy booklet with rare photos and liner notes by author David Szulkin
- Spectacular new cover painting by renowned Los Angeles cult artist Dave Lebow

Ultimately then our dream has come true and a huge thanks, eventually, to Grindhouse Releasing for making this at all possible. Whatever my gripes were about not being able to own it for 5 years, without this company and those people we never ever would've seen the single greatest lost film in existence. Good things most definitely then, come to those who wait!

Pre-Order and pick up your copies today at

Hear us discuss Massacre Mafia Style on The Podcast from The After Movie Diner (Right Click To Download MP3)
Hear us discuss Gone With The Pope on The Podcast from The After Movie Diner (Right Click To Download MP3)

1 comment:

  1. We spent some time talking about this movie and Duke Mitchell in the latest episode of our podcast. If you're interested you can check it out at


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