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by Bernadette Yarnot

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Mike Jittlov
a tribute to a man who has never heard of me.

Who is this Mike Jittlov person?  The short answer is that he is the maker of one of the best movies you've never heard of.  (The reasons why are long and involved, and you can read more about them here and here and here and the legal problems involved with prosecution here.)  More accurately, he is the creator of one of the best movies you've never seen, as only 6,000 copies of the *preferred* edit were ever distributed.  (There is a vastly inferior edit that you may have seen as it makes its occasional appearance in video stores.  Do not be fooled.  The preferred version is very different in tone, pacing, and quality.  (The director's edit does not, alas, exist, due to a severe lack of the master copy.))

The movie is called The Wizard of Speed and Time.  It is, simply, an all-too true tale of the tribulations of creating a special-effects segment of film, but it is much happier than that might imply.  It is a pre-CGI special effects extravaganza, in which Jittlov scripts, acts, directs, effects, and produces a movie that just makes you feel good.  (He also performs-- I kid you not-- approximately 130 other commonly credited jobs for this film.)

You've never heard of it unless you were living in the Boston area approximately 15 years ago, or are a fan of the obscure, or know someone who knows someone who has seen it.

But this is not all Mike Jittlov has done.  You may have hazy memories of the Sunday night Disney specials, and the advertisement for the new Disney Channel which contained a shot of a Mickey Mouse satellite floating around the globe.  That's his work.  Or you may have equally dim memories of a bunch of clothes dancing around a department store after hours.  Or of a janitor taking H.G. Wells' time machine for a spin.  Or of a music video made almost entirely out of cutouts from magazine advertisements.

Still not ringing any bells?  Well, he also did a television travelogue from Norway.  He was the evil spirits in the movie Ghost.  And nowadays, he designs fonts.  (You didn't just think they came with WordPerfect, did you?)

But the most important thing is that, whatever he has done and whatever he is doing now, he is and has always been a Nice Guy.  And June 8th is his birthday, and he is feeling down in the dumps.  So now is my chance to sing him the birthday song that he wrote because "Happy Birthday" is copyrighted:

Happy Birthday to you, Merry Birthday to you,
May all your good dreams and fine wishes come true;
May every day bring you its own special cheer,
The gift of our friendship, and fortune this year.

Oh, and the comic is referring to a scene in the movie where Jittlov rides down the streets of Hollywood on a wheeled suitcase (30mph, and it really exists) because he doesn't have any other transport.

(Hi, Mike!  Blame Gharlane.)

What's your favorite obscure movie?  Talk to me.

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