The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector..."Guilty of Being Me"
A Feature Documentary Film by Alex Jordanov 70 Minutes
“Guilty of Being Me” tells the story of Phil Spector, legendary creator of "The All of Sound", his rise to fame and prowess in the recording studio, and final demise as the convicted murderer of Lana Clarkson, a Hollywood actress down on her luck, working as a “waitress” at the House of Blues on Sunset Strip. Phil Spector, The District Attorney, The Lead Detective, and others relevant to the killing tell their story. Extensive courtroom coverage follows the first trial from beginning to end.
Lana Clarkson, the Victim
The trials of Harvey Phillip Spector for the murder of Lana Clarkson were dominated by one phrase: "I think I killed someone." The 69-year-old record producer, creator of pop's "wall of sound", was said to have uttered that phrase as he emerged from his home in the small hours of Monday, 3 February 2003. Behind him, slumped in a fake Louis XIV chair, lay the body of Clarkson, a 40-year-old actor he had met earlier that night when she was working at the House of Blues.
Phil Spector during his successful producing career.
Phil Spector is an American record producer and songwriter. The originator of the "Wall of Sound" production technique, Spector was a pioneer of the 1960s girl group sound and produced over 25 Top 40 hits between 1960 and 1965. Later in his career he worked with artists including Ike and Tina Turner, John Lennon, George Harrison, and the Ramones with similar success. He produced the Beatles' Academy Award-winning album, Let It Be, and the Grammy Award-winning Concert for Bangladesh by former Beatle George Harrison. In 1989, Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer. The 1965 song "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", produced and co-written by Spector for The Righteous Brothers, is listed by BMI as the song with the most U.S. airplay in the 20th century.
Al Pacino plays Phil Spector in the new David Mamet HBO.
The 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra, California home led to his being charged with murder in the second degree. The full force of Los Angeles's celebrity crime armada descended: news helicopters hovered overhead, high-priced lawyers – celebrities in their own right – were summoned, news crews and the idly curious gathered to peer through the iron railings of Spector's home.
Spector, too, played the part, seeming to revel in a return to the spotlight. He provided other staples of the Hollywood justice story: the tirade on the steps of the courthouse, the elaborate and downright weird hairdo, the rococo attire, the trophy wife, the phalanx of bodyguards. "She kissed the gun," he told one interviewer.
While the first trial was dominated by forensics and the finer points on how blood spatters, the rerun came down to an elaborate game of did he, didn't he, involving meditations on memory, suggestibility and English language proficiency.
The many faces of Phil Spector during his trials.
At the centre of the dispute was Spector's stand-in chauffeur on the night of Clarkson's death, Adriano de Souza, a Brazilian student who proved an unflappable witness. Despite his occasional awkwardness with English, De Souza recounted how he had collected Spector for an evening out that had seen him visit a clutch of Hollywood haunts, Trader Vic's and Dan Tana's, imbibe a huge amount of alcohol – "navy grog", 150-proof tequila – and share his evening with two dates before ending at the House of Blues. There, Spector met Clarkson, an actor whose role, far removed from the showbusiness recognition she craved, was to guard the VIP area. Initially she took the freakishly coiffed Spector for a woman, before being corrected by the management and told to treat him "like gold".
Spector picked up Clarkson at the House of Blues in L.A.
After some persuasion Clarkson agreed to go home with Spector for a nightcap, watching Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye in the back of the Mercedes S430 limousine driven by De Souza on the way to "Phil Spector's Pyrenees castle", a 33-room turreted mansion perched on a hill in the unprepossessing Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra. Two hours later, she was dead.
French Director Alex Jordanov secured LAPD videos of the crime scene and interviews with Spector before, during, and after his trial and appeal, as well as interviews with subjects related to the trial. There is footage in which you see the dead girl with the gun at her feet. You also hear the cops on the tape admitting there is no crime committed.
Phil Spector interviewed by his defense team.
Years earlier, Phil gave wife Lonnie a strange Christmas present. He bought her two twins at an adoption center. Jordanov found one of the two in a remote suburb of Los Angeles. For the first time, that ‘son” agrees to speak in front of a camera. He has never seen a penny of his father's millions and lives in this dismal 1 bedroom apartment. The film visits the house where they used live and be locked up. There is a clip with some never before seen private family photos.
The Victim and Crime Scene
Providing a detailed background on Spector’s music career, the film is capped with interview materials from the police and the District Attorney’s Office. Ultimately, Spector came up against a barrage of evidence. Clarkson had given no indication that she was suicidal, the defence's proffered explanation. Why would someone who was just about to shoot themselves go out and buy multiple pairs of shoes? The trial heard expert testimony that people rarely kill themselves on the spur of the moment, and almost never at the home of a stranger.
The Los Angeles D.A.
More damning for the defense was the judge's decision in both trials to allow evidence of prior acts by Spector involving women and guns. A parade of women at both trials described how Spector had turned from charm to menace, often fuelled by alcohol and medication. His penchant for waving guns in people's faces, they recounted, suggested an accident waiting to happen.
The Police Transcripts
The gruesome imagery from the crime scene also made an impression the defense found hard to dispel. The dead actress, a cult success for her incarnation of the Barbarian Queen in the eponymous film, was reduced to a film noir cliche: the blonde starlet sprawled on a chair, the bottom of her mouth blown off, a 36 Colt under her left leg. Spector's assertions to interviewers before the first trial that she was the victim of accidental suicide never seemed more ridiculous. The film presents a well-rounded perspective on the case, and in the end, the conviction of Spector.
The 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra, California home led to his being charged with murder in the second degree. After a 2007 mistrial, he was convicted in 2009 and given a prison sentence of 19 years to life. An appeal of the conviction was heard by the California Courts of Appeal in April 2011 with a ruling expected by July 2011.
Edited and Remastered in English from the original French Version. Never before seen in North America. 70 Minutes NTSC. The Academic license includes classroom screening rights.
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This Film is licensed for Academic Library, Classroom Screenings, and Closed Digital Streaming