Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 04 June 2010 00:00
In the past several years, John Carpenter has transformed Massapequa into the Classic Movies Mecca of Long Island. But the Movie Man wasn’t always on the side of fortune. A decade ago, such things weren’t possible. In fact, the Movie Man was just glad to be alive. In 1999, he narrowly escaped death when he was hit by a car while crossing Clark Boulevard, on the way to visit his parents.
Carpenter spent two months in a coma and has had to battle disability and near death. From that ordeal came his acclaimed documentary, Smelling Like a Rose. A former off-Broadway actor, Carpenter was on his way to another career, this one as an independent filmmaker.
To celebrate Carpenter’s achievements—-and his upcoming birthday——the Massapequa Public Library will be holding their own Movie Man film festival.
On Saturday, June 19, beginning at 2 p.m., the library will be showing an afternoon of Carpenter’s own independently made films on their big screen so that all film fans and community members can make him smile the way that he has done for countless film fans over the past several years.
Carpenter’s second career, one as a filmmaker and film lecturer began, as noted, after that near-fatal accident. Recovering from the accident with a walker and a cane, Carpenter achieved a lifelong dream by producing, directing, and starring in his first film, 2002’s Late to Lunch. This award-winning comedy was, according to Carpenter, an authentic genre recreation of what a silent comedy was like as if it was actually shot in that transitional period between silent and “talkie” movies.
On the heels of that success, Carpenter initiated his Classic Film Lecture and Presentation Programs, where locals like himself could meet monthly and share the pleasure of experiencing Hollywood-produced rarities from the Golden Age of Film: The 1920, ’30s, and ’40s. In recent years, films starring such legends as Bob Hope, Judy Garland, and Abbot and Costello have entertained the locals. Using his vast archive of classic films to entertain and educate his standing room only crowds, Carpenter lectures on all the artistry that went on in front and behind the camera’s lens in the making of those classic films. And so, on a monthly basis, film fans from all over Long Island make the pilgrimage to Massapequa to view Carpenter’s latest offering.
But it was in 2005 that Carpenter made his big breakthrough. That year, Smelling Like a Rose, a documentary produced for The International Film Expo was released. The motivational film, dramatically chronicling how Carpenter overcame being disabled for life to regain his status in the world, was a big success and the work of art he is destined to be remembered for.
For this film, Carpenter received a budgetary financial grant from the Nassau County Film Office to continue such work. He was also awarded a Congressional Citation from Rep. Peter King (R.-Massapequa) for the Movie Man’s utilization of his life story as a way to inspire others suffering from similar life-threatening setbacks.