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David Poland

By David Poland

More Great News For Paramount

They landed Brett Ratner… WOOO HOOO!
Take a breath….
Ratner has good taste. He can make $100 million look like the most beautiful $75 million you’ve ever seen on screen.
So what is Paramount getting itself into?
Well, the relationship seems mostly about Beverly Hills Cop IV, being written by the geniuses who “wrote” Wanted… I seem to remember a few words somewhere in that crapfest… and soon to be directed by Ratner, who will surely have the very hottest ethnic women in Hollywood in the backround of every scene of Axel Foley walking around Beverly Hills.
The biggest question about the “first look deal” is whether Ratner can deliver his first “tentpole” that’s not a 3rd X-Men or a Rush Hour film to gross over $210 milion worldwide.
Even though the last Beverly Hills Cop was 14 years ago – have you notcied that Par is now acting like MGM and teh Walking TE Corpse Of New Line, desperately trying to revive any former hit? – it is a sequel. So there is no point in comparing it to Ratner’s originals, none of which has grossed as much as $125m worldwide. But Red Dragon, at $209m ww, seems fair to worry about. And the fact that Rush Hour 3 grossed less than either of its predesessors domestically and about the same as the first film worldwide (27% off of RH2) is also a cause of concern.
A decade into his career as a director, there is no indication that Ratner is a better bet on a project than, say, Dennis Dugan or Brian Robbins. Goiod luck all around.
1 – X – Men: The Last Stand – $459.3 – 2006
2 – Rush Hour 2 – $347.3 – 2001
3 – Rush Hour 3 – $255.0 – 2007
4 – Rush Hour – $244.4 – 1998
5 – Red Dragon – $209.2 – 2002
6 – The Family Man – $124.7 – 2000
7 – After the Sunset – $61.3 – 2004
8 – Money Talks – $48.4 – 1997

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353 Responses to “More Great News For Paramount”

  1. RDP says:

    You know as well as anyone else that writing a movie doesn’t just include coming up with the dialogue.

  2. LYT says:

    Seems to me Dennis Dugan’s a pretty good bet, so long as he doesn’t let Adam Sandler get TOO weird with the concept.

  3. TMJ says:

    Ratner can’t hold Howard Deutch’s jock.

  4. repeatfather says:

    Ratner is just the most innocuous and soulless filmmaker in Hollywood. I’ve never felt anything watching his movies; while I might detest McG, at least my passion (in this case hatred) is stirred.
    I’d rather watch the hypnotic whirling of a ceiling fan for two hours than another Rush Hour movie.

  5. The Pope says:

    Looking at that list, I am amazed to learn that I have seen three of his films. But what is less amazing and quite saddening is that I have never once gotten a feeling of a sense of magic or wonder about the medium. Michael Bay and McG, neither of whose work I like, at least can instill a sense that they had a good, old-fashioned, childish giddy thrill about making their films. Flawed and ill-tempered as their films are, at least there is a pride about the finished product. Looking at Ratners work, I sincerely think that he is more interested in what is happening around or behind the actors… the cars, the gadgets, the girls walking by in the background. That is not movie making. That is just infantile greed and it seems from every sprocket of every frame he has ever spat through the gate,

  6. LexG says:

    Some points I don’t feel like stringing together into a proper argument:
    3) I don’t know whether this is an argument for or against what Dave is trying to say here, but probably 90% of filmgoers don’t know or care who the director is.

  7. The Pope says:

    Sorry, that should read “That is just infantile greed and it seeps from every sprocket of every frame he has ever spat through the gate.”

  8. LexG says:

    4) What bizarre Hollywood wisdom suggests that a fourth installment of a 15-year-dormant franchise will better its immediate predecessor, which was a HUGE UNDERACHIEVER?
    Fuck, CROOCODILE DUNDEE 2 was even a HIT, and we saw how well this pattern worked out that time.

  9. hcat says:

    Has there ever been a larger waste of a great cast in recent memory than Red Dragon. Hopkins, Fienes, Watson, Norton, Keitel, Hoffman slumming through such a dull movie. The book was excellent and could have been made into a superior movie (as Mann had previously shown) but they handed it off to this styleless hack.

  10. MDOC says:

    I cannot imagine any scenario whereby Beverly Hills Cop 4 is a hit. BHC4 is just such clear a waste of time, energy, and money. It’s the kind of project that causes executives their jobs. I don’t player hate the rat, I just want something original out of him. He’s my first choice to helm the inevitable Entourage movie.

  11. cjKennedy says:

    Forget about Paramount, think of the benefit a Ratner directed BHC4 provides audiences: we can skip a sequel we have no interest in and another Ratner crapfest all in one movie.

  12. The Pope says:

    Great call MDOC,
    Ratner directing Entourage is a perfect fit.

  13. leahnz says:

    may i ask, why DO utterly bland, mediocre directors like ratner, mcg, etc. keep getting handed big projects when there are directors out there with genuine vision, skill, intelligence and individuality? (mcg being handed t4 – as unnecessary as i think it is – is mind boggling to me.)
    i honestly don’t get it. how did these guys rise up to the upper echelon of big time film-making? do they get paid less? are they more susceptible to studio control and influence by their very nature as creatively bereft, visionless boobs? does their lack of daring and creativity make them a ‘safer’ bet financially? why are they coveted?
    i’m not being facetious at all, i’m genuinely baffled. our film making community here is so small, and money is so tight, anyone who rises above is generally a shining gem, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in the hollywood system. i don’t understand how these ratner types keep getting big projects after turning out one bland, turgid, uninspired movie after another (red dragon is a great example; a fantastic story and cast that wasn’t even bad, it was just ‘nothing’, made so little impression on me that i forget it 30 seconds after i watched it). if anyone can offer some insight, i for one am interested!

  14. SJRubinstein says:

    I remember halfway liking “The Family Man.” But like “After the Sunset,” you wonder if another director could’ve thereby made it a semi-classic. There was a really aces movie to be found buried in “Sunset.”

  15. LexG says:

    If nothing else, Ratner’s regular employment of ’70s composer Lalo Schifrin is kind of awesome.
    I know THE RAT views James Toback as some sort of role model, and indeed it is just JAW-DROPPING how much game both of them have and how many incredible-looking women they’ve pulled.
    Who cares about cinematic integrity when you can bang the chicks Ratner gets? I wouldn’t give a DAMN; I’d gladly massacre a few hundred fanboy memories and shoot all my shit like a 1988 Richard Dreyfuss movie, too, if cutting corners and phoning it in meant I could get home and tax that level of hotness.

  16. jeffmcm says:

    Leah, one answer to your question is that so many of the filmmakers with skill and vision wind up making personal boondoggles like M. Night Shyamalan and The Happening, to name one example. And really, which of those filmmakers is going to want to bother with Beverly Hills Cop 4 in the first place?
    At least Ratner can stage an action sequence and hire cinematographers who know what they’re doing, which automatically puts him above the ranks of Dennis Dugan and Brian Robbins. They’re all hacks, but there’s a difference between a competent hack and an incompetent hack.
    PS: Lex, I hate you.

  17. Cadavra says:

    What’s so hard to figure out? The creatively bereft, visionless boobs are being hired by other creatively bereft, visionless boobs.

  18. sloanish says:

    Not that Lex will ever find himself in this situation, but screwing hot empty chicks gets old for most intelligent people. LG, shouldn’t you be out getting laid 24/7 with dumpy girls from accounting? Since fucking is obviously your highest priority in life, why bother coming here? With every post and wasted second on THB you’re proving that in LexWorld you truly don’t own.
    The problem with Ratner isn’t his suckiness, it’s that he’s taking up important slots. There are only so many 150 million dollar spectacles a year and he’s taking away those slots from real directors who could do something interesting with the money. Seeing movies like TDK only makes me angrier. Imagine if all tentpoles were made by directors, not field generals.

  19. Rothchild says:

    You don’t need numbers to argue that Ratner is a better bet than Dugan. Dugan got his shot with an action movie and shit the bed. If you actually took the time to sit down and watch National Security you’d realize he could never touch Ratner. I’ll take bland and boring over complete incompetence any day of the week. There were moments so poorly staged my jaw dropped. I’ve seen direct to DVD Seagal movies that are shot and cut better. It makes Chill Factor look like Die Hard.

  20. mutinyco says:

    I once saw Brett Ratner, James Toback and And Lee pose together for photos at a premiere.

  21. drturing says:

    You all talk about Ratner in theory. Some friends of mine had the vastly unfortunate experience of working on his crews. To call him a director is grossly generous.

  22. LYT says:

    Rothchild – my only point with Dugan is that he makes money pretty consistently, except when the concepts get too weird (Mossad hairdresser, Son of Satan). Not that he’s better.

  23. LexG says:

    I can admit it. RATNER OWNS.

  24. LexG says:

    Selling out is the American Dream.
    But seriously, why else does anyone get into showbiz except for sex and money? Least The Rat is honest about it.

  25. sloanish says:

    “But seriously, why else does anyone get into showbiz except for sex and money? Least The Rat is honest about it.”

  26. Hallick says:

    “I can admit it. RATNER OWNS.”
    Ratner aside, LexG, you’ve had your run with the “(fill in the blank) OWNS” shtick, but at this point you’re starting to sound like the schoolteacher from Charlie Brown. At this point, the word “OWNS” in your hands is making white noise seemed nuanced and colorful. Rebuild, man, rebuild…

  27. christian says:

    LexG, what happens in life after TOTAL OWNAGE?
    Are there no more worlds left to conquer?

  28. EOTW says:

    Lex G’s schtick is kinda amusing, if you only come here to read the threads once a day at best.
    Yeah, the Rat directing an ENTOURAGE flick will happen. I can’t stand that show (after the first season) and he’s perfect for its empty soul.

  29. IOIOIOI says:

    What happens after total ownage? YOU JUST DO NOT PLAY! THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS!

  30. Martin S says:

    leahnz – Ratner works because he’s reliable, pure and simple. He stays in budget and delivers a coherent, marketable movie to the right demo. He’s a commercial director making commercial products, not an artist. He doesn’t conflate the two like Bay seemingly does and fills the Richard Donner/McTiernan slot.
    The guy looks like the byproduct of a Joel Silver jaunt to Miami gone awry. He’s physically hard to listen too, also. Very affected. I know he’s NYFilm, but am not sure if he’s related to the real-estate mogul Ratner’s of NYC. If so, that answers a lot.

  31. anghus says:

    I don’t think Wanted was terrible, but one line that i can’t believe a person wrote:

  32. jeffmcm says:

    EOTW, this is what I’ve come to learn, this week, being away from home and only having internet access once or twice a day. Constant LexG is soul-numbing (imagine what it must be like to be on the nearby vicinity?) but sporadic Lex is like seeing Carrot Top on TV, you can pretty much tune him out.

  33. leahnz says:

    lol, cadavra, i suspected as much.
    martin s., thanks for your input, though it’s scary to think that a director is hired for the reasons you stated. imho, that mindset is exactly why movies in general are becoming increasingly pedestrian and forgettable.

  34. leahnz says:

    crap, jeff, point taken about the difference between hacks, i think i prefer mine incompetent, might as well go the whole hog!

  35. Rothchild says:

    Did you really think Dugan directed Little Nicky?

  36. jeffmcm says:

    Leah, depends on if the incompetence is entertaining or not. I was going to use Ed Wood as an example but he was never really a ‘hack’ in the strict sense of the word. But yeah, competence can also be boring.

  37. LexG says:

    OK, to address Hallick’s point, I’ll have to concede offering up a half-assed RATNER OWNS does sort of an injustice to things and people that truly OWN. As a fellow tubby, unkempt guy, it fucking OOOOOOOOOOOWNS that he gets to BANG SMOKING HOT MODELS AND ACTRESSES through SHEER FORCE OF HIS RELENTLESS GAME. But as a director, yeah, gotta admit I’m stretching there. I think he’s unjustly vilified, but even with the help of Dante Spinotti, many of his movies have THE EXACT SAME VISUAL STYLE (I am not kidding, rent it) as Chuck Norris’ FORCED VENGEANCE from 1982.
    I think in general I’ve tried to be more judicious with throwing out the OWNINGs, tried mixing it up a little, and here I got a little carried away.
    To answer christian’s awesome question, there IS no higher or more exalted plane than TOTAL OWNAGE. Though sometimes I may go longform and qualify it with COMPLETE and TOTAL OWNAGE, rest assured, they are one in the same, and I am talking about THE WICKED SHIT (TM Violent J), something that STRAIGHT OWNS YOU up and down, and also has a LEASE WITH AN OPTION TO OWN well into your next three lifetimes and you are helpless to do anything but BOW.
    Examples of the supreme level of TOTAL OWNAGE would include but are not limited to: Sir Ridley Scott, Sir Tony Scott, Kristen Stewart, Daniel Plainview, Tyler Durden, “Scarface,” heavy metal, drinking The D.K.A., Christina Ricci, Todd Parker, “Saw,” the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, that TATU movie with Mischa Barton, Olivia Thirlby, Josh Brolin, “Domino,” “Driller Killer,” Robert Loggia, the “Lost Highway” soundtrack, “Last House on the Left,” TOM CRUISE, “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia,” Rutger Hauer, ’70s Plymouth muscle cars, Dio, John Stockwell, and the 1982 Atlanta Braves.

  38. Joe Leydon says:

    Lex G: What? No Michael Caine? Michael Caine TOTALLY OWNS! OVER FIVE FREAKIN’ DECADES! BOW BEFORE THE MAJESTY THAT IS SIR MC!!!!!! OR HE’LL GET CARTER ALL OVER YOUR PATHETIC ASS!!!! First time I ever talked with Qunetin Tarantino, I knew that dude was cool because he knew, like I know: Michael GET CARTER Caine achieves TOTAL OWNAGE and beyond.

  39. lawnorder says:

    I may be in the minority here, but I find LexG a hoot to read. He’s the Stephen Colbert of the Hot Blog — and anyone who can turn a phrase like “tax that level of hotness” has a screenwriting career waiting in the wings.
    Ratner has gone overbudget on many of his films, including RUSH HOUR 3 which caused Bob Shaye many sleepless nights.
    Joe Leydon: you are the man. GET CARTER OWNS like no other that has come before or will ever come again.

  40. LexG says:

    Joe, have no fear, that was like a small sampling; Caine is TOTAL OWNAGE to the max, even in something like THE ISLAND (Michael Ritchie, not Michael Bay, though I needn’t have explained that to Joe.)
    Will you forgive me, though, if I concede one of my most embarassing film-geek black holes is that I’VE NEVER SEEN the original Get Carter???
    This, despite liking Mike Hodges’ PRAYER FOR THE DYING and even the Sly remake… somehow, it’s never crossed my path, to my great, great shame.

  41. LexG says:


  42. sloanish says:

    Ratner goes over on everything. EVERYTHING. I’ve heard stories about After the Sunset that would make your head spin. Even more than if you actually saw it.
    I’m beginning to think that Lex might like attention. He may even be — and I’m whispering this to you as I write it — writing ridiculous ass shit fuck to get it. Shhhhh.

  43. Joe Leydon says:

    Lawnorder (and QT) will know what I’m talking about when I say: Michael Caine delivers the coldest MFing line ever spoken by anyone at any time in any movie: “You knew what I’d do.”
    Second coldest: Nick Nolte in 48 HRS.: “You’re not gonna make it.”
    Third coldest: William Petersen in Manhunter: “It’s just you and me now, sport.”

  44. LexG says:

    A WORLD-FAMOUS ACTION MOVIE DIRECTOR is walking down the Boulevard with four SMOKING-HOT CHICKS, two on each arm.
    They are DRUNK and GIGGLING.
    An ineffectual, wimpy VALET DRIVER named JEFF SLOANE approaches the DIRECTOR, all eager and shit.
    Um, uh, can I get your car, sir? (big cheesy smile)
    THE NEON LIGHTS OF HOLLYWOOD glisten, Michael Mann style, both up on the Hill and on the other side, hotels and CLUBS shimmering in RACK-FOCUSED 2.35:1.
    I love your movies, Mr. (Insert.)
    Yeah, what the fuck ever, GARCON.
    He dismissively tosses his keys, attached to a comical chain that says RULE THE COCK, at the limp, ineffectual VALET douche.
    Coming right up, uh, sir….
    He heads off to fetch the AWESOME DIRECTOR’S Maserati.
    GIRL #1
    What a DOUCHEBAG.
    Tonight, will you hotnesses get down on your knees and BOW to me?
    ALL FOUR GIRLS IN UNISON, Grady Twins style.
    Out of nowhere, walking up the streets SOLO, is LEXG, clutching a sixer of MICHELOB ULTRA, one can at his mouth, and the other five dangling on their plastic rings.
    At least two of the HOTNESSES give each other the LES-CENTRIC EYE
    GIRL #2
    GIRL #3
    Famous DIRECTOR is a little unsettled, but must RESPECT the power of LEXG for ingratiating himself with his WOMEN.
    Suddenly, and unfortunately, JEFF SLOANE pulls to the curb in the Maserati, and leaps out LIKE A TOTAL DOUCHE, giving DIRECTOR and WOMEN a weak-ass THUMBS UP sign.
    Rock ON, laaaaaaaaaaaaadies.
    GIRL #3
    What a douchebag.
    Yeah, but I’m still cool, right?
    I am not sure. Are you worthy?
    LEXG looks to the camera, wailing in a pained expression, a horrific sound coming from his being, but —
    LEX IS SMIRKING, looking into the lens.
    I am… but one… and the… and yet….
    GIRL #4 stands mid-frame, looking into the lens, and produces a GOLDEN CROWN.
    Reverse shot, LEXG is on his knees, BOWING.
    The becoming… it is.
    To the side of frame, the DIRECTOR cackles EVILLY into frame….
    Heh heh heh heh….

  45. Joe Leydon says:

    LEX G

  46. LexG says:

    Joe, for the record, 48HRS and Manhunter I consider pretty much two of the most perfect movies ever made. James Remar has never been so awesome as he was as GANZ, and to this day I rock out to the allegedly “dated” songs in Manhunter. Remember when RATNER was all talking shit about THE HUNTER about how dated it was? MANHUNTER FUCKING OWNS. And that SUPERMARKET SCENE with WG’s kid is like the best scene ever.
    So does STEPHEN LANG, for that matter.

  47. Joe Leydon says:

    “And that SUPERMARKET SCENE with WG’s kid is like the best scene ever.”
    Sweet Jesus, yes. When he’s trying to explain to his son that, sometimes, dad sees bad things… OMG. What a great scene. What a great movie. Sorry, IO: Makes everything in Dark Knight seem like a comic book.

  48. LexG says:

    Joe, not having watched Manhunter in its entirety for a few years and with this discussion in mind, just threw in the DVD, and Petersen/Graham has this line to his son about Lector’s thought being stuck in his head and how “they’re the ugliest thoughts in the world.”
    Petersen and the kid’s acting, and Mann’s composition and muted sound design, just sends SHIVERS, and tramples the hell out of any and everything Ratner did in the “remake,” where now I’m thinking he literalizes this entire BRILLIANT scene as a prologue between Norton and Hopkins.

  49. LexG says:

    Holy shit, Joe, just got to “JUST YOU AND ME NOW, SPORT,” and my hair was fucking standing at attention. God DAMN this movie FUCKING OOOOWNS.

  50. L.B. says:

    This weekend will be MANHUNTER and GET CARTER rewatching around these parts. Somehting good finally came out of a Ratner discussion.
    Good job, guys.

  51. Martin S says:

    Sloanish/lawnorder – when I’ve asked about the Ratner factor, I was told otherwise, (this was around X3). I hadn’t heard about Rush 3, and am very surprised that it goes as far back as Sunset. If he’s perpetually blowing out but still working, that’s interesting. As Dave pointed out, his record is blah so it makes BHCop an even sillier decision.
    Lex – Forced Vengeance….When I was a kid, I incessantly watched the opening credits. Norris beating ass in silhouette backdropped by what looks like a massive Coke sign in Catonese. The good ol’ days.

  52. The Pope says:

    With Spielberg et al about to exit, it’s not so much Paramount are losing their daughters… with Ratner arriving, they are gaining a son. The studio staff must be so pumped!

  53. doug r says:

    May I point out that Beverly Hills Cop was written originally for Sylvester Stallone and most of Eddie’s (Oscar nominated) “Schtick” was ad-libbed on the spot?
    I for one preferred X3 to the other 2 dour, muddy X-men movies. WTF is up with all the Bryan Singer love? Superman Returns was a mess as well.
    Ratner’s been practicing with the Rush Hour franchise, BHC4 still has got to be better than that souless, lifeless piece of crap that is BHC3.

  54. Sevenmack says:

    Leahnz wrote: “that mindset is exactly why movies in general are becoming increasingly pedestrian and forgettable.”
    Sorry Leahnz, but movies, for the most part, have always been forgettable and pedestrian. For every “West Side Story” and “Gone with the Wind”, there were thousands of Deanna Durbin time-wasters, pulpy film noir crapola, penny-ante horror flicks, Tex Ritter westerns and other films made that have been absolute dreck. Try watching half the films on Turner Movie Classics or pre-“Mad Men” AMC and you would conclude that movies were no better then than they are now.
    The studios have never aimed for quality, at least deliberately, and has never been that way since the days when films were shot in Brooklyn warehouses in black and white (and without sound) and were shown in nickelodeons. The goal has always been to make as much money as possible and mindlessly entertain as many people as feasible at the lowest cost acceptable — the last part being variable depending on whether the studio was MGM or American International Pictures or Ed Wood. The quality element has always been dependent on the directors and producers, often at their own expense.
    Even my two favorite periods for filmmaking — between 1967 and 1977 (with “Point Blank”, “Bullitt”, “Across 110th Street” and “The Last Picture Show” among others) and early 1990s (with such films as Whit Stillman’s “Metropolitan” and “Barcelona”, Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction”, and Peter Jackson’s “Heavenly Creatures”) — there was plenty of crap. For every “Clerks” there was “House Party”, “CD-4” and two other useless pieces of crap. And there were five versions of “Tony Rome” for every “Point Blank.”
    Quality movie-making, in short, is an accident more than a norm in H-Wood.

  55. Nicol D says:

    I do think there is a way for BHCIV to be a hit, if perhaps a modest one in the 130 million range. Remember Cop III flopped because it was completely different than the first two. It eschewed the hard edged action for silly Landis comedy and gave up the great Axel F music for a lame-o Quincy Jones score, if I recall. It was bad all around. It also lacked John Ashton who was so pivitol to the original two films.
    The original two had the great Murphy-Reinhold-Ashton trio and they had real chemistry.
    Paramount will give insurance to Murphy the way Ford got insurance in the form of Shia. Some hot young co-star, probably female.
    Also, the benefit of a fourth Cop film will be in multiple DVD repackaged box sets etc. By no means will it be the 300 million grosser that Skull is, but the notion that you can’t go home again, I think is wrong.
    With the right plot, attitude, rating and budget, it could at least do as well as Live Free or Die Hard.
    200 million is definitely out of the question but Dave aside, the success of Norbit proves Murphy does have a fan base.

  56. christian says:

    LexG, if you ain’t seen GET CARTER…
    You don’t TOTAL OWNAGE jack shit!

  57. The Big Perm says:

    Sevenmack, absolutely. It’s kind of a peeve of mine when someone talks about how movies are steadily getting worse, when it’s always been clear that most films are medicore to crapola. And back in the supposed good days, I don’t see anyone handing out a big budget for something like Fight Club or The Fountain, that was just really off the wall.
    Well, I guess they tried with Zabriskie Point, but they failed.

  58. Cadavra says:

    I’m too tired to go into this shit again, so I’m not gonna get into a debate with ignoramuses whose idea of an “old” movie is PRETTY WOMEN. The studios back in the ’30s through ’50s were factories, but they turned out a high-quality product. Even the lowliest B would have experienced, talented actors, craftsmen, writers and directors working on them, and any Universal B-musical from the early ’40s has more entertainment value than the 2 1/2-hour fartfests clogging up the multiplexes today. (The 62″ STRICTLY IN THE GROOVE actually got a standing ovation at Cinecon a few years back.) So just shut your know-nothing mouths and go watch HOSTEL again, because you haven’t the faintest, fucking idea of what you’re talking about.
    current mood: extremely grumpy

  59. yancyskancy says:

    Don’t we all know by now that AT LEAST 90% of everything created by humans falls along the mediocre-to-awful spectrum? Always has, always will. No need to get huffy about one era over another.
    Sevenmack, someone’s gotta stand up for Deanna Durbin, and I fear that job falls to me, by default. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that I’m the only one here who owns the 6-film Deanna Durbin “Sweetheart Pack” DVD set (I may also be the only heterosexual male born in the last half of the 20th century to own it). While I can’t argue that her films aren’t “time-wasters,” the best of them (It Started with Eve, First Love, Three Smart Girls) are at least charming time-wasters. In short, Durbin OWNS, even if she comes short of TOTAL OWNAGE. (And now, in a pathetic effort to salvage my credibility, let me say that I also love all the films you listed from your favorite film-making periods, except Clerks. And may I recommend Phil Karlson’s 1975 revenge noir, Framed? It recently dropped on DVD, and it’s tough stuff. I’ll concede that Joe Don Baker OWNS even more than Durbin).
    As for Get Carter, I actually saw it first at a drive-in when I was about 13. Rocked my wimpy little world. Scenes that made the biggest impression: 1) Caine comparing Ian Hendry’s eyes to “two piss-holes in the snow; 2) Britt Eklund having phone sex with Caine. It’s a must-see, Lex!

  60. yancyskancy says:

    Cadavra: Some pre-emptive damage control: My above remark about “getting huffy” wasn’t directed at you, in case you’re wondering. I wrote that before seeing your post.
    While I still stand by my assertion that MOST of everything, including movies, is crap, I wholeheartedly agree with your comments about the level of craftsmanship to be found in the “factory” days.

  61. MarkVH says:

    Funny that y’all should be discussing it/him, ’cause TCM is devoting the first day of its “Summer Under the Stars” festival to Caine, with Get Carter on tap for 2:30 a.m.

  62. LexG says:

    Thanks for the heads-up, MarkVH.
    Consider that shit DVR’d.

  63. The Big Perm says:

    So Cadavra, anyone who thinks that maybe there were lots of crappy movies made back in ye olden days must like shit like Hostel? Do you think when you type or do you just shove your hands up your ass and bang your head on the keyboard so words appear on screen? Actually, if you do that you’re really talented. I just get stuff like “ghsjfhiodfhjfjk;glgh”
    Here’s a crazy fact…some recent movies cranked out by the factoris also have talented writers, directors and craftsmen working on them as well!
    But O, how I miss the days of John Wayne starring in The Conquerer! Or serials where the heroes trapped in an undergrown cavern wired to explode make an exciting escape by opening the unlicked door! We need more turgid biblical epics, unfunny bedroom comedies and banal westerns! Educate us, Cadavra!

  64. movieman says:

    “Sweet Jesus, yes. When he’s trying to explain to his son that, sometimes, dad sees bad things… OMG. What a great scene. What a great movie. Sorry, IO: Makes everything in Dark Knight seem like a comic book.”
    Thanks for that posting, Joe. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
    I remember seeing “Manhunter” twice the weekend it opened back in the summer of ’86–both times in a mostly empty theater, alas. I still get chills down my spine thinking of individual scenes (hell, individual shots, line readings and music cues!) from that movie. Truly one of the great American films of its decade.
    Writing a review of Ratner’s hackish impostor 16 years later was the saddest experience of my professional life. I’ve hated “Mr. ‘Rush Hour'” with a vengeance ever since.

  65. Joe Leydon says:

    Movieman: But here’s the scary thing: When Red Dragon was released, I gave some of my Houston Community College film history students the option of writing an extra-credit essay in whuch they would compare that film to Manhunter. AND ALL SIX OF THEM PREFERRED RATNER’S FILM. Now, I really couldn’t flunk them because (a) the papers were reasonably well written (in terms of syntax, punctuation, etc., which, trust me, counts for a lot these days), and (b) as I tell my students every semester, “My job is to make you think. My job is not to make you think like me.” BUT JESUS MFing CHRIST!!!!!!

  66. Triple Option says:

    Standing O for LexG OWNED. All that w/out a single cheap crutch gimmick pyro pop.
    And here I was worried that The Great Post Slash of ’08 would reduce him to pitcher who’s beanned a batter on the noggin and now afraid to throw inside.
    I really can’t tell the difference among most of the directors menioned here. I wonder how much is the director’s fault and what should otherwise be blamed by decision makers wanting to adhere to formulas to secure a bottomline figure.

  67. Joe Leydon says:

    Yancyskancy: Funnily enough, I, too saw Get Carter for the first time at a drive-in — because that’s where it had its first-run engagements in New Orleans back in 1970. I kid you not. People forget that MGM treated this classic (in the US, at least) with no respect at all, and dumped it into release like a low-rent exploitation flick. Of course, it wasn’t the only movie being treated that way by MGM at the time. Get Carter actually opened at N.O. drive-ins on a double bill with Paul Mazursky’s Alex in Wonderland

  68. The Big Perm says:

    If a director with any sense of style directed Red Dragon I’d prefer it too…but I prefer Gothic moody suspense over police procedurals.

  69. Lota says:

    haiku for Ratner
    Get off ratner’s back
    he is hitchcock compared to
    Boll, McG, E. Roth
    bling from Miami
    my Hummer is my best friend
    chicks dig my money
    come to my party
    please sit in my photobooth
    don’t tell your mama

  70. leahnz says:

    lol, lota, you’re the haiku queen! (no wonder you suggested a haiku contest… 😉 )
    just for the record, i didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday, i’m aware there have been crap movies since the dawn of movies. my point is that i prefer a bad movie in which someone was at least attempting to inject a modicum of imagination, unique style, vision or humour – or even just a bad movie that i can at least remember – over the safe, predictable, forgettable rubbish that is gone from your mind the moment you step into the light being churned out by ratner and his ilk with the blessing of big money.
    i’ve been watching movies that i can remember for about 37 years and i do think the quality of film making in general is deteriorating. the industry is more focused on big profit and less on unique films than ever before, and the taste of film viewers is perhaps changing accordingly, as illustrated by that comment joe made about his students preferring ‘red dragon’ to ‘manhunter’, just about the scariest thing i’ve read in a long time! (even though i don’t like the very end of ‘manhunter’ as a big fan of the novel, it’s still one of my all time fave flicks and the ANITHESIS of ‘a ratner’ imho)
    i think someone mentioned mctiernan in comparison to ratner’s current status as a competent action director (i might be wrong about that, if so, disregard the following); but mctiernan directed ‘die hard’ for goodness sake – an absolute hard-out classic – and whatever you might want to say about mctiernan at least he was a bit mad, he had guts, whereas ratner is just so damn sane and safe…imagine ‘die hard’ directed by ratner! or mcg, or…

  71. yancyskancy says:

    Yeah, I’d say McTiernan and Donner are higher up the directorial evolutionary scale than Ratner and McG. I thought Donner’s recent “16 Blocks” was quite an efficient little thriller.
    Joe, not sure if I’m remembering this correctly, because we used to see a lot of stuff at the drive-in in those days (in Louisville, Kentucky), but I think I saw “Get Carter” on a triple bill with “Shaft” and “Barbarella.” We didn’t stay for that last one though. Others I remember seeing: Love Story, Jacqueline Bissett in The Grasshopper, Jim Brown in Kenner, Hayley Mills in Take a Girl Like You. Get Carter was definitely the cream of that crop.

  72. The Big Perm says:

    Every generation (with of course exeptions) prefers their movies over the previous. My dad tried to make me watch the movies he liked as a bid (Which I hated then but like them now), but he didn’t want to watch the movies his father watched. Same as it ever was.
    When Hammer was making the 18th Dracula sequel, was that for art or money?
    Hell, even the classics of the 70s were made as straight up programmer entertainment…witness Jaws and The Godfather. They’re only good because Coppola and Spielberg managed to fight to make them right…but they could have EASILY gone the other way. The studio wasn’t out to make art.
    Funny that once Coppola got the power to do what he wanted, his career imploded in failure after failure.

  73. leahnz says:

    bigperm, i think you’re right about looking at our own generation of movies through rose coloured glasses, but while studios have always been out to make money, wouldn’t most people agree that there’s been a bit of a shift in the paradigm? first, aren’t there many more movies made now than, say, 30 years ago? arguably a shift to quantity over quality. it also appears that nowadays, movies are made for a specific ‘target audience’, whereas back in the day it was more a case of movies made for adults and families/children, a trend that has caused a dumbing down of film, inho.
    movies cost so much to make now, in the need to minimise financial risk, perhaps artistic risk (which is what usually leads to greatness) is being subtly quashed by decisions such as playing it safe with ‘competent’ directors without guts, flair or originality. marketing also appears to be a chief concern now whereas once upon a time it more a byproduct of making a movie (how do we get people to come see this thing? let’s come up with something clever).
    movies are starting to feel ‘disposable’ to me – just the sheer volume of mediocrity – which freaks out every movie-loving fibre of my being. i’d rather despise a movie than come out feeling nothing.

  74. lawnorder says:

    There’s only one other movie that shares absolute “ownage” with GET CARTER and that’s George Miller’s MAD MAX (1979). I don’t mean ROAD WARRIOR (which is great, but doesn’t have the crazy cop vibe of the original Max). I esteem these two films for their ass-kicking nihilism above all others. Honorable mentions to: 48 HOURS, THE WILD BUNCH, THE WARRIORS, SOUTHERN COMFORT, PRIME CUT, NIGHT MOVES, CUTTER’S WAY, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., MANHUNTER, POINT BREAK, SEXY BEAST, THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY, WHITE LIGHTNING, DELIVERANCE, THE LONGEST YARD (Aldrich), CHARLEY VARRICK, TAKING OF PELHAM 123, DIRTY HARRY, MAGNUM FORCE, CARLITO’S WAY, SCARFACE (De Palma) and HEAT. I’m sure I’ve left some great ones out…

  75. LexG says:

    Some of the guys who actively reviewed movies back in the day are free to correct me, but I think it’s a common misperception that so many more movies are release today than 25, 30 years ago. Pick any random release date, week, or month way back when, you’ll still see a staggering number of (now classic) movies having been released simultaneously.
    Because of today’s marketing campaigns and the swiftness with which flops are ushered out of theaters, we tend to think it’s a flurry of disposable product, but a little research on my end shows that big, big movies were being released 2, 3, 4 at a time then, too.
    I just pulled up summer of 1982, as an example.
    The following movies were all released within the same three-week span between late July and early August:
    Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The Challenge, World According to Garp, Zapped!, An Officer and Gentleman, Forced Vengeance, Last American Virgin, Night Shit, Swamp Thing, Tex, Things Are Tough All Over, Pink Floyd The Wall, The Pirate Movie, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Friday the 13, Part III.
    That’s a LOT of damn movies. And most of them pretty damn big, unlike our current summer when we get one comic book movie and one counterprogrammer a week, with maybe an indie quirkfest on the side.

  76. leahnz says:

    shit, lex, perhaps i stand corrected on the volume issue (who knew? is that number of releases typical for the ’70’s/80’s in general or a case of one crazy summer? just wondering) but i’ll stick to my guns about declining kick-assedness cause i’m stubborn.
    some decent flicks on that list of ’82 releases…(night shit. funny typo)
    lawnmower, if you’re american odds are you got the dubbed version of ‘mad max’ as the original was deemed to hard to understand for american audiences and gibson’s voice (and a few other i think) was dubbed. a bit of mad max trivia for ya.
    point break. what ever happened to k. bigelow? did that ford sub flick sink her boat? bummer

  77. leahnz says:

    disregard my ‘one crazy summer’ question, lex, which you already made clear in your post, sometimes i have the attention span of a gnat

  78. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    LEX you don’t say LONGEST YARD for Aldritch, you say THE EMPEROR OF THE NORTH. Slips like that can get your ass banned from the hard bastard club for life. 70s nihilism .. get your ass to THE HUNTING PARTY now junior. And POINT BLANK, BRING ME THE HEAD, & DEATH HUNT should also be on your list.

  79. leahnz says:

    lawnORDER…sorry my bad. maybe i need spectacles

  80. movieman says:

    Having toiled in the field of academia myself, I feel your pain, Joe.
    The idea that anyone could/would prefer “Red Dragon” to “Manhuter” makes me question not only their sanity, but their eyes, ears and brains as well. The most appalling (and hubristic) thing about Ratner’s complete and utter botch was how he somehow managed to poach Mann’s nonpareil cinematographter (Dante Spinotti) and still came up with…total and absolute shit. Talk about “deconstructionist”!
    Caught up with “Swing Vote” this afternoon, and it’s decent enough for an under-publicized August release. But the movie didn’t really kick in for me until the Mare Winningham scene which takes everything to a completely different level. And the kid is damn good Plus, Costner is always at his best when he’s playing terminally screwed-up manchildren (“Fandango,” “Bull Durham,” “Tin Cup,” “The Upside of Anger”).
    Considering the fact that there were only five other people in the theater, though, I’m guessing this will be pretty much of a box-office non-starter. Too bad; particularly in a weekend when utter rubbish like “Mummy 3” (yes, Dave; it IS the worst film of the season!) will finally usurp the preening folderol that is “TDK.”
    P.S.= Will everyone stop discussing Ledger’s self-indulgent performance like he was James Dean in “Giant”? Sorry, gang, but I’m not buying the hype. Ledger gave one legitimately great perf in his abbreviated career (“Brokeback”), and turned in lots of mediocre work in so-so or worse films (“First Knight,” “The Order,” “The Brothers Grimm,” “The Patriot,” et al).
    He was no River Phoenix, let alone the second coming of Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. Not by a long shot.
    Yes, he’ll get an Academy Award nomination…and very possibly win. Maybe they can even get Michelle Williams to accept his posthumous Oscar: wouldn’t that be a magical moment sure to elicit a knee-jerk standing O? Well, so fucking what? Eckhart gives the flm’s best performance.

  81. leahnz says:

    i’m a bit intimidated by you right now, movieman, but i just wanted to quickly add, there will NEVER be another river phoenix, brilliant, tortured genius that he was, i miss him so

  82. movieman says:

    You’re so right, Leahnz.
    Phoenix was pure genius. From “Stand by Me” to “The Mosquito Coast” to “Running on Empty” to “My Own Private Idaho” to “Dogfight”, he was the greatest actor of his (and the next) generation.
    And Ledger was never ever remotely in Phoenix, or Leo DiCaprio’s class for that matter.

  83. jeffmcm says:

    ? I think Ledger’s work in Brokeback puts him above anything that DiCaprio has yet done.

  84. yancyskancy says:

    Big ups to lawnorder’s testosterone drenched list, especially Charley Varrick, an all-time fave of mine that I didn’t think anyone else knew about until fairly recently. I caught Southern Comfort again two nights ago on Encore or something, and it still OWNS, even in pan-and-scan.
    I love how some of you mistook lawnorder for Lex because he listed the titles in all caps. 🙂

  85. Joe Leydon says:

    Movieman: if we’re gonna talk about self-indulgence… Well, have you actually gone back and looked at James Dean in Giant recently?

  86. Lota says:

    Lex in the Hard Bastards club? I don’t think so.
    Did anyone mention Road House?
    You can;t be a MAN without thinking Swayze is a God in that movie. Or at least to hear my mental brothers tell it.
    modern hard bastards movies:
    Hana Bi or Sonatine
    Running out of time (Hong Kong–Heat)
    the beat my heart skipped
    Gangster No 1
    Manhunter gave me nightmares for weeks. I should have waited til I was older or watched it with someone holding my hand.

  87. leahnz says:

    movieman, i couldn’t agree more about river, he was transcendent. i wonder what he’d be doing right now, the man he would be, the thespian he would be…i shed a wee tear for him even after all these years (i’ve been partaking of some mulled wine and i tend to get sentimental and weepy when i tipple so apologies for being a huge dork).
    speaking of river…i watched ‘sneakers’ the other night for the first time in ages and i forgot what silly fun it was, what a good cast, and what a great nerd river played. sniff.
    you know, i think of ‘carlito’s way’ (mentioned above and one of my fave pacino flicks) as a love story more than anything, he tries so hard to play it straight for his beloved but you know he’s doomed from the start. the last scene where she dances on the beach with her wee lass…i shed a tear. for me, it’s up there with ‘shawshank’ as far as weepy endings go… and sean penn’s brilliance in ‘carlito’s’, don’t even get me started…

  88. movieman says:

    ….actually, no, Joe. I haven’t seen “Giant” in eons; maybe I should take another look at it. Yeah, there was always a degree of Method indulgence to Dean’s screen performances, but that’s what makes them so time-specific fascinating. You can actually say the same thing about most (all?) of Brando’s performances (even “Waterfront” which I show to my class every semester). But Ledger’s unmodulated, undisciplined (and seemingly under-directed) “TDK” perf is the very definition of Method Madness.
    Gawd, Jeffmcm; really???!!! Except for his superbly Method-y “Brokeback” perf–which I’ll grant is NEARLY as resonant a piece of work as River Phoenix’s in “Private Idado”–Ledger did/does zilch for me. I actually think his charming light comic turn in “10 Things I Hate About You” was his second best screen outing.
    And using Ledger’s “Brokeback” perf to dis Leonardo DiCaprio is just plain silly.
    DiCaprio’s remarkable body of work–stretching back to “This Boy’s Life” and encompassing “Gilbert Grape,” “Romeo and Juliet,” (yes!) “Titanic,” “Catch Me if You Can,” “The Aviator” and “The Departed”–mark him as the true heir apparent to River Phoenix. “Brokeback” notwithstanding (too little, too late?), Ledger was an impostor by comparison.
    Also, flaws and all (tin-ear dialogue, Billy Zane), “Titanic” is likely to be remembered by future generations as a more enduring film than “TDK.” Nolan has been a pretentious wanker since “Following,” and still doesn’t know how to tell a story–visually or narratively. Eckhart, yes; “TDK”/Ledger, no thanks.
    Leahnz: I also (frequently) wonder what River P. would be doing if he were still alive today. (Joaquin is a fine actor in his own right, but he’ll never be another River.)
    Interestingly, the movie I chose to memorialize River with the evening after his death was Nancy Savoca’s wonderfully delicate and touching “Dogfight.” Anyone who hasn’t seen it (and I’m guessing most of the Ledger Lovers posting here have never even heard of Dogfight,” or N. Savoca for that matter) should definitely check it out. “Dogfight” ranks with “Splendor in the Grass,” “The Sterile Cuckoo” and “Baby It’s You” as one of my all-time favorite “doomed romance/young adult” films.

  89. Cadavra says:

    BigPerm, you wanna be educated? Okay.
    A few months ago, the Motion Picture Academy had an evening in which Judd Apatow, Larry Gelbart and a third person I’ve momentarily forgotten chatted onstage about comedy and ran clips they’d personally selected.
    Gelbart ran a clip from Lubitsch’s TO BE OR NOT TO BE, a small jewel of a scene in which Jack Benny, a Jew disguised as a Nazi official, has to bluff his way through a conversation with a genuine Nazi official.
    Then Apatow ran a clip from his own KNOCKED UP, which consisted of Leslie Mann and a black doorman yelling a dozen variations of “Fuck you!” at each other for three or four minutes.
    So, BigPerm, go rent TO BE and KNOCKED and watch them back-to-back. And when you’re done, if you can genuinely, honestly say that the Apatow piece of shit is better than the Lubitsch classic, then there’s no further need of discussion, because you are simply unable to discern any notion of quality. Period.

  90. Joe Leydon says:

    Actually, Cadavra, Judd Apatow (whose Knocked Up really is pretty freakin’ great) is modest enough to acknowledge his betters:

  91. leahnz says:

    movieman, i hope people who haven’t seen ‘dogfight’ might take you up on your recommendation, it’s terrific. i feel like i watched river grow up into a young man on film and in his interviews, he was just so damn special, and his body of work is that much more incredible considering he died so very young (23, wasn’t it?). i feel a bit like that about leo, too, from ‘growing pains’ (yikes) to his great work now as an adult, he’s done himself proud. we’ll never see that great movie i’d always hoped for with river and leo playing brothers, could have been a classic for the ages.
    i liked ‘knocked up’ ok, it was funny, but did anyone else think heigl and rogan had no romantic chemistry together? i bought their friendship but anything beyond that seemed forced, with all the heat of a flashlight. plus, the portrayal of the women as humourless shrews and the men as good-time charlies was too over the top, it didn’t ring true to me.

  92. Noah says:

    Just want to add to the chorus of praise for River Phoenix. His performance in My Own Private Idaho is one of the ten or twenty best performances I’ve ever seen. His performance in Running on Empty is almost as good.
    Unfortunately, I think that as good as he was in everything that he was in, the films he he starred in weren’t as good as him; especially the later ones like Thing Called Love and Silent Tongue. But I love, love, love Sneakers. I think that one is just such a joy to watch and the last ten minutes are genius.

  93. mutinyco says:

    What separates Ledger from Phoenix or DiCaprio is this: Ledger started in commercial crap, then steered his career to more serious movies/performances toward the end, while the other two established themselves in smaller artier fare and were thus considered serious actors from the beginning.
    I’d put Ledger’s performances in Brokeback, Candy, Dogtown, TDK and especially I’m Not There against ANYTHING from Leo or River.

  94. Noah says:

    Yeah, his performance in Dogtown was great. He was playing Val Kilmer playing Jim Morrison, right?
    It’s a matter of opinion, but I think River’s performances in Idaho and Running on Empty are better than all of those Ledger performances you mentioned. And I think DiCaprio in The Departed and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is at least on a par with those Ledger performances.

  95. Noah says:

    But I do want to add that I think Ledger was wonderful in Brokeback and is the best thing about The Dark Knight. Comparing great performances is tough.

  96. mutinyco says:

    He was playing Skip Engblom. Watch the Dogtown doc, and imagine him 30 years younger in the ’70s…

  97. movieman says:

    I actually think that Leo DiCaprio’s greatest performance–a tough call because there’s already such an extraordinary body of work to cull from–was in Spielberg’s unheralded masterpiece, “Catch Me if You Can.” If “Catch Me” was the last, great “Hollywood” movie, DiCaprio’s performance as Frank Abagnale Jr. is–like his Jack from “Titantic”–one of the all-time great “movie star” (e.g., Bogey in “Casablanca” or Gable in “GWTW”) performances. “Catch Me,” like “Titanic,” would have been unimaginable without Leo and his boundless, effortless charisma and tremendous, Lord-this-guy-is-great acting chops, and nobody else (nope, not even Heath Ledger) could have done either role better.
    I think you’re being too harsh on “That Thing Called Love,” Noah. I’ve always liked that fell-through-the-cracks Bogdanovich film. Sam Shepard’s “Silent Tongue” IS a talented disaster, though.
    Have you seen “Dogfight” by any chance? Nancy Savoca is another awesome talent (“True Love” and “Household Saints” are her other all-time keepers) who just sort of…disappeared. Very sad.

  98. Noah says:

    I saw Dogtown, Mutiny, it’s a great movie. I didn’t think he sounded much like Skip (or look like him for that matter if you see pictures of younger Engblom). And I was just saying, there was a precedent already set when Kilmer played Morrison and Ledger adopted many of the same mannerisms. I don’t know if Ledger watched that film or anything, but for me, I saw similarities.
    Movieman, That Thing Called Love isn’t terrible but it’s not particularly good either. I think Mathis is terribly miscast in that one. Dogfight is a really nice, underrated little movie. I don’t think it’s a masterpiece, but a solid little gem.

  99. leahnz says:

    noah, i’m ‘onagi’ with you on river’s ‘private idaho’ perf as being one of the best ever put on film (did he ever get the recognition he deserved for that performance while he was alive?)…and you like ‘sneakers’, too! (you’d be hard-pressed to get a cast together the calibre of ‘sneakers’ nowadays, such great fun)
    i really disliked ‘dogtown’, i thought the doc ‘dogtown and z boys’ was far better

  100. movieman says:

    Glad you saw “Dogfight,” Noah. I really think that the Savoca films I referenced are pretty close to masterpiece status: and all three made my 10-best list (in ’89, ’91 and ’93 respectively).
    While I’d never put “That Thing Called Love” in the same class as the Savoca movies–or most of Peter Bogdanovich’s ouevre (including “TLPS,” “Daisy Miller,” “They All Laughed,” “Paper Moon” or “Saint Jack”), I think it does qualify as an unheralded minor pleasure. And I don’t recall having any problem with Mathis: Sandra Bullock outshone her on the distaff side of the cast, though.
    Leahnz: I think the “Ocean’s” movies are pretty close to “Sneakers” re: to assembling a classy all-star cast.
    And I agree that “Dogtown and Z Boys” is superior to “Lords of Dogtown.” Ledger amused me, but Emile Hirsch is the actor that I remember most vividly from that film.
    Speaking of actor-pairings, I’d love to see Leonardo DiCaprio and Hirsch teamed as siblings in a future movie. There really is an uncanny physical resemblance, and they’re both extraordinary talents.

  101. mutinyco says:

    Nobody’s questioning whether the doc was better. The thing about Ledger’s performance was just how un-Ledger it was at that time. That role was the set-up for Brokeback later that year. It was a stepping stone in changing people’s perception of what he could do.

  102. movieman says:

    Remember the campfire scene from “Idaho”?
    River to Keanu Reeves: “I love you, man.”
    Or the scene at the end of “Dogfight” when River abashedly hobbles into Lili Taylor’s diner seeking forgiveness?
    Perhaps one of the reasons why Ledger enthusiasts are so quick to dismiss River Phoenix (and Leo DiCaprio) is that both Phoenix and DiCaprio were/are effortless performers who make/made everything look so easy–like it wasn’t acting at all.
    Ledger on the other hand–even at his best in “Brokeback”–always let you know how much effort and work went into his Method-ical performance(s).
    I guess I’ve always preferred it when the strain isn’t so, well, visible. Maybe that’s why I think Jeff Bridges is a greater screen actor than Robert DeNiro.

  103. Joe Leydon says:

    Movieman: You do know, right, that at one point Jeff Bridges was being pushed for the riole of Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver?

  104. movieman says:

    I’d actually never heard that story before, Joe.
    Was it because Scorsese wasn’t sure whether DeNiro would make it back from Italy in time where he was shooting (…and shooting…and shooting) Bertolucci’s “1900”? I do recall there was some concern over all of the weight DeNiro gained from eating pasta while making Bertolucci’s magnum opus.
    DeNiro gave one of his greatest, and certainly most iconographic, performances ever in “Taxi Driver,” but the thought of Bridges in the role is certainly fascinating.
    Is that an anecdote from the Julia Phillips’ book?

  105. mutinyco says:

    Movieman, nobody’s trying to diminish Leo or River. I simply said that Ledger’s best work is as good as their best work.

  106. Joe Leydon says:

    Movieman: Take a look at Mary Pat Kelly

  107. leahnz says:

    movieman, that campfire scene…you know, river and keanu had a good connection; keanu could never be accused of being a great actor but i think river brought keanu along on his amazing journey as mike, and because of that keanu has never been more credible to me than in ‘idaho’. the moment the two characters separate, keanu becomes a bit of his old wooden self again, he really needed river to make ‘scott’ work.
    who was it that said, ‘never let them see you acting’… river just seemed to effortlessly inhabit his roles, slipping them on like an old pair of comfortable jeans, he was so utterly believable and seamless as every character he played, just awesome to behold.
    jeff bridges as ‘jeff lebowski’… another utterly believable, seamless portrayal and also one of the best ever put to film imho (but i’m a huge sucker for ‘the dude’!)

  108. leahnz says:

    just a quick addendum to the above: i can’t get that ‘campfire’ scene out of my head now (thanks movieman!), river’s painful vulnerability, my maternal instinct to gather him up my arms and whisper, ‘he doesn’t love you the way you love him, and he never will…’ i haven’t even been drinkin and it makes me emotional! i need to harden up

  109. movieman says:

    I’ll have to check that book out, Joe. And just when I thought I’d cornered the market on every ephemeral piece of ’70s trivia!
    It seems kind of weird that Bridges–who hadn’t been in a real “hit” since “The Last Picture Show”–would have been considered more bankable somehow than DeNiro who was just coming off of his “Godfather II” Oscar win. Or maybe I just need to read the book, lol.
    Leahnz- You’re so right about River Phoenix effortlessly inhabiting his roles without any visible strain or effort. To me that’s what great acting is all about. And no one exemplies that better than Jeff Bridges.
    Looking at Bridges’ prodigious body of work–basically everything from “TLPS” on–is truly inspiring. “Bad Company,” “Fat City,” “The Last American Hero,” “The Iceman Cometh,” “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot,” “Rancho Deluxe,” “Hearts of the West,” “Stay Hungry,” “Winter Kills,” “Cutter’s Way,” “Kiss Me Goodbye,” “Against All Odds,” “8 Million Ways to Die,” “Nadine,” “Tucker,” “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” “See You in the Morning,” “Texasville,” “The Fisher King,” “American Heart,” “Fearless,” “Wild Bill,” “The Big Lebowski,” “The Contender,” “K-Pax,” “Seabiscuit,” “The Door in the Floor”…..and I purposely left out some really obvious choices like “Starman.”
    Not all of those films are great, but the integrity of Bridges’ performances mark them as significant pieces of work.
    As an example of how underplaying–and simply inhabiting a character/role–trumps grandstanding, just compare Bridges’ sly, subtle perfs in “The Fisher King” and “K-Pax” opposite Robin Williams’ and Kevin Spacey’s conspicuous showboating antics.

  110. Joe Leydon says:

    Moviemaker: Jeff Bridges is an underappreciated treasure. BTW: Ivan Passer once told me that he was able to get a green light for Cutter’s Way (originally known as Cutter and Bone) because, believe it or not, some folks at UA were convinced Bridges would be a bigger star after Heaven’s Gate, and they wanted to make sure they had him committed to another movie for them right away.

  111. LexG says:

    That needs a DVD release, stat– I’m sure its participants may not rank it as one of their major works (I wonder what Stone thinks of it today and if he’ll even acknowledge it), but it’s like an ’80s fever dream of unbelievable L.A. grit and unpleasantness.
    And in the middle of this EXTREMELY profane, humorless, nihilistic cop flick, Bridges gives one of the more memorable and understated portrayals of alcoholism I can remember from that era. Twenty years on, that performance still leaps to mind as believable and naturalisitc.
    I know fans of the novel(s) it’s based on see it as a bastardization, but the L.A. production design and early James Newton Howard score are pretty amazing, Andy Garcia is a completely loathesome villain, and Rosanna Arquette is the hotness in it. RELEASE THIS MOVIE ON DVD.
    And by the way, THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT has to be one of Bridges’ best. Much as I love Lebowski, it’s almost a shame that so many modern film geeks so exclusively recognize him as THE DUDE; In TalkBacks and blogs discussing IRON MAN, there were (I assume younger) guys saying “It was cool/weird to see THE DUDE as the villain.”
    He is way more than just that one character. He OWNS. Christ, of all random things to watch, I caught some of BAKER BOYS os FMC last year, for the first time probably since it came out, and I said there GLUED to the incredible banter between Jeff and Beau, the awesome chemistry with Pfieffer.
    Bridges is TOTALLY a national treasure.

  112. Joe Leydon says:

    LexG: I wrote this on my blog a few weeks ago, regarding Hal Ashby: It should be noted that 8 Million Ways to Die, Ashby’s final completed feature, is not without its admirers. Indeed, I remember once speaking with an Oscar-winning director (not one you’d expect) who only half-jokingly told me that he’d love to swipe one of the movie’s more offbeat conceits — a warehouse shootout that had the shooters screaming profanities as well as firing bullets at each other — and use it in one of his own films. He was reasonably sure he could get away with the petty larceny (or, depending on your POV, grand theft) because few people saw, and no one remembered, Ashby’s critically mauled flick. PS: So far, that other director hasn’t aped Ashby’s effort. At least, not yet.

  113. LexG says:

    Awesome! I’m tempted to ask who, but I’m sure you wouldn’t tell in public, and it’s more fun to ponder who that might’ve been.
    And that scene, which also feature’s one of Garcia’s goons duct-taping a shotgun to Arquette’s head, makes “Scarface” or “Casino” sound like a kindergarten play, in terms of F-bomb count. It’s so giddily over-the-top… I can’t remember if the movie ever played basic TV, but I’d hate to be the guy in charge of bleeping or dubbing that scene.

  114. movieman says:

    Yeah, I remember seeing “Cutter and Bone” when it first opened in March of ’81. It flopped miserably and was gone in the blink of an eye.
    You can imagine my surprise–and delight–when it resurfaced a few months later under a new title, and became a surprise arthouse hit. I can’t remember anything like that happening in a very long time. But now there’s the home video release to give deserving, underseen films a second chance.
    Totally dig Ashby’s “8 Million Ways to Die,” too, Lex. In fact, it’s probably the only post-“Being There” Ashby movie that I really like (“Second Hand Hearts,” “Lookin’ to Get Out” and the Stones concert movie are all fairly painful for one reason or another). Bridges’ typically awesome performance probably explains part of that. I also love the cynical, almost nihilistic tone of the film, and how it so beautifully captured the look, style and sensibility of mid-80s LA.
    “Winter Kills” is another cult-y favorite of mine. But when Bill Richert tried to duplicate that same formula with “American Success Company,” it just sort of….curdled up and died. No fault of Bridges’, of course.
    I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned Walter Hill’s “Wild Bill,” Lex. Sounds like the sort of gnarly revisionist western you would totally dig. “Rancho Deluxe” is right up your alley, too. That’s such a wonderfully atypical Frank Perry movie: no wonder I love it dearly. Perry’s signature might be on the film, but it totally feels like screenwriter Thomas McGuane joint. (Pun definitely intended.)

  115. mutinyco says:

    It’s a baseball bat. Son of a bitch. Dumb shit.

  116. Joe Leydon says:

    At least Rancho Deluxe — with great Slim Pickens! — is avilable on DVD. When will we ever get a DVD of Thomas McGuane’s 92 in the Shade, with the greatest character actor of all time, Warren Oates?

  117. yancyskancy says:

    Joe: Re the Oscar-winning director who wanted to steal Ashby’s shoot-out: Woody Allen? James L. Brooks? Bernardo Bertolucci? Am I warm?

  118. movieman says:

    I guess I should be lucky that there used to be a (single) screen theater here in NE Ohio that was contractually obligated to play EVERY United Artists release. If it was something they knew wouldn’t do business, they’d book it for only three days, usually on a double-feature with an older UA title (“Where’s Poppa?” and “What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?” were both immensely popular for some reason: maybe because they both had question marks in their title.)
    “92 in the Shade,” “Rancho Deluxe,” “Born to Win,” “Jennifer on My Mind,” “The Revolutionary,” frigging “Fellini Satyricon”…they all managed to get a “courtesy” booking. The weird thing is that I remember seeing “Satyricon” on a Monday nite (I think I was in seventh grade at the time) and the theater–which was probably
    a 700-seater–was PACKED! That blew my young mind as much as the movie itself.

  119. Joe Leydon says:

    Yancy: Sorry, I can neither confirm nor deny.

  120. mutinyco says:

    8 Million Ways To Die was written by an Oscar-winning director.

  121. frankbooth says:

    I agree that Bridges is a fantastic performer who never lets you catch him acting, but I have a hard time seeing him as Bickle. Has he ever played anything that intense? I have a feeling he’d come across as kind of a confused, messed-up kid, but somehow still too likeable.
    The thing about DeNiro back in the day was, he didn’t give a shit about ingratiating himself with the audience. I’m not saying Bridges does, but he has a natural charm and boyishness that might’ve softened the character.
    I can’t believe I missed the Manhunter discussion. Oddly enough, I just watched it the other night, before I saw this thread. Must be tapped into the hive blog-mind. (Actually, I popped the disc in to wipe out the stale taste of Mr. Brooks, which steals a couple of scenes outright.)
    The ending actually improves on the novel’s now-cliche fakeout (which probably worked just fine when Harris first wrote it.) The plane landing in St. Louis, as they’re receiving the faxes of the suspects. The frantic ride to the house. Graham winding up in the bakcyard, ahead of everyone else, not waiting for backup — a movie contrivance that completely works in this context. And something Dorothy Vallens picked up that I’m embarassed to say I never caught before: Graham is in Dolarhyde’s backyard, spying on HIM through the windows, in a nice subtle reversal of the murders.
    And when he starts running, and D turns to face him, and he crashes through that window and the slomo ends just as Inna Gadda Da Vidda kicks back in…man oh Mann.
    The ensuing shootout is great, too. Fast and brutal, playing with frame rates and skipped frames in a way that heightens the action rather than being random ass-covering of directorial incompetence, as is so often the case. The only slightly cheesy moment is breaking through the backdrop, but it only lasts a second.
    And that shot of Dolarhyde on the floor, rendered much smaller now than Graham by the angle, a dead dragon with blood “wings” under him. Great stuff.
    I almost wish Mann HAD remade his own movie, with that great cast and a nice big budget. Would have been a fascinating comparison to his earlier version. But he would have had to adhere to the world established in the earlier films, and by then it was all about the cult of Lecter, the loveable serial-killer. (Can you imagine Sir Tony’s Hannibal stooping to killing innocent college girls? He only avenges himself on the rude and tacky.)
    I’ve watched clips of the Ratner film, and Norton and the rest of the gang literally look like they’re thinking about lunch. Compare Norton blandly chatting with Hopkins with Petersen regarding Cox as you would a lethal snake. And you have to blame the director, becasue these actors are the best. As William Hurt once said: HOW do you fuck that up?
    Every so often I’m tempted to watch that thing, for curiosity’s sake. Thanks for talking me down, guys.

  122. yancyskancy says:

    In his years as an editor, Ashby did work for Oscar winners George Stevens, William Wyler and Franklin J. Schaffner, but they’re all dead and therefore unlikely to make more films. He edited a bunch of Norman Jewison features, but Jewison has never won.
    My actual guess: Robert Benton. But don’t worry, Joe, I don’t expect you to confirm or deny. 🙂

  123. Joe Leydon says:

    OK: Do we agree that “Innna Gadda Da Vida” in Manhunter is the single best use of a pop/rock song in a dramatic movie ever? (Yes, even better than “Jump into the Fire” in GoodFellas.
    Mutinyco: Not trying to be rude — not ignoring you — but, again, making any comment at all would in effect be giving a clue. This was something said in confidence, so I’m obliged to remain mum. I will repeat, though: “Not one you’d expect.”

  124. movieman says:

    “Inna Gadda Da Vida” is definitely one of the greatest music-in-the-movies moments ever.
    But a Scorsese/Stones pairing I like even more than the “GoodFellas” one you cited is “Tell Me” in “Mean Streets.”
    In his book “The Film Club,” David Gilmour does a beautiful job of analyzing that scene/song selection.

  125. Noah says:

    I love Stevie Wonder’s Living For the City in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever, during the scene where Wesley Snipes is looking for his brother in a crackhouse that is filled with thick smoke. That one gives me goosebumps every time.

  126. mutinyco says:

    By what standard is “greatest” derived from?
    Insofar as Goodfellas is concerned, it might be obvious, but without question the award goes to “Layla.” It’s probably the most transcendent moment of any film Scorsese’s ever made.
    But greatest? Greatest needs to imply cultural impact, not just personal taste. Something that’s iconic and groundbreaking. If we’re talking pre-recorded pop songs, I’d say the greatest is probably…
    “Born To Be Wild.”

  127. frankbooth says:

    Yes, Joe, we agree that it’s great. The way Mann uses the lull, in particular, is just genius.
    I wonder if this indirectly influenced the use of Donovan in Zodiac? It’s somehow similar, in that it it’s an odd choice, and yet it feels so perfect. And it redefines the song forevermore to anyone who’s seen it.
    I think the Shriekback song earlier in the film is fantastic, too. But the song playing when Dolarhyde sees — and misunderstands — his gal being escorted home by their co-worker is a bit on-the-nose for me.
    But the BEST appropriation of an existing song in cinema history, for me, is…well, do I have to say it?
    …you’re mine…all of the time…we’re together…forever…in…

  128. mutinyco says:

    Are we talking existing song? Existing pop song? Or existing music?
    Pop: BTBW
    Song: Singin’ In the Rain
    Music: Zarathustra

  129. leahnz says:

    as far as cultural impact goes: ‘in the air tonight’ by phil collins while tom and Rebbecca do the wild thing on the train in ‘risky business’ springs to mind; i don’t particularly love the movie but i saw it as a teenager and to this day when i hear that song i still think of that scene, as i’m sure others do of my generation.
    (and i love jeff bridges not only as ‘the dude’, lex – i fell for him in ‘t & l’ and ‘starman’ – i just happen to think that he absolutely nailed that character in what could have been a stereotypical ‘stoner’ role in the hands of a lesser talent)

  130. leahnz says:

    hey movieman, i forgot to mention above re: your ‘great jeff bridges performances’ list, i thought of one crucial word you left out, the-all-time-classic-one-and-only-weird-precursor-to-CGI masterpiece starring jeff bridges: TRON! 😉 😉
    (i actually love ‘tron’ and so does my boy, but i suspect we may be a minority of two!)

  131. The Big Perm says:

    Manhunter does have an amazing ending. I love the stylization. I also loves how it seems like Graham is going to save th day as he jumps through the window, only to get his ass handed to him.
    And you’re right, Cadavra. You have proven that movies were better back in the old days by picking a classic and putting it up against a modern day movie that hasn’t had to stand the test of time, and that was made in a different style entirely and for what could even be argued for a different audience.
    I wouldn’t care if you said you preferred movies made back then to ones made now. I have plenty of friends who think the same way. What makes you lame is that you call those who may think differently as “ignoramuses.” And I’m not saying ALL movies made now are better. I’m saying shit was made then and shit is made now. Great movies are made now, as they were then.
    Or I could say I personally think Jurassic Park is a better movie than Attack of the Giant Leeches, thus proving all modern day movies superior. Look how easy that is!

  132. movieman says:

    Leahnz- I deliberately left “Tron” off my Bridges list. For starters, I only saw it once (June 1982 when it first came out) and can barely remember it. Two, my dim recollection of the film tells me that it wasn’t much of an actor’s showcase–not even for the great Jeff Bridges.
    Two other Bridges’ hits I skipped were “Jagged Edge” and “The Morning After,” two entertaining popcorn thrillers which feature typically strong work by Our Man Jeff. I like them well enough, but neither has the sort of idiosyncratic edge I associate with Bridges’ finest work.
    (Not that “Seabiscuit” qualifies as particularly “edgy” either: but I love the earnest, (Henry) Fonda quality of his performance.)
    Btw, have you seen “See You in the Morning,” Leahnz? That’s another of Bridges’ undeservedly obscure films, but I adore it.
    I think it’s the last (semi) great movie directed by the wonderful Alan J. Pakula. And “Kiss Me Goodbye” was the last (near) great movie by Pakula’s former partner, Robert Mulligan.
    Both are worth seeking out for anyone who cherishes Bridges (like we do) and classical Hollywood narrative cinema.

  133. Joe Leydon says:

    Big Perm: I always offer this disclaimer to my film history students: Yes, there were great movies made during the so-called New Hollywood era (roughly speaking, 1967-1980). But it

  134. leahnz says:

    i was just joking about bridges in ‘tron’, movieman, my comedy stylings are obviously weak! i’m embarrassed now, but i have no plans to quit my day job, thank goodness.
    was ‘see you in the morning’ a love story with bridges as a widower? i remember that one from many years ago but haven’t seen it since, i’m sorry to say. pakula’s a legend in my book, though. along with his classics like ‘presidents men’, ‘klute’ and ‘sophie’s choice’, i’m almost embarrassed to say that he also directed one of my all time fave movies ‘the pelican brief’…(i know, i have no idea why i love that movie so much because it’s really not that special but love is blind, i guess. those damn pelicans get to me every time).

  135. The Big Perm says:

    Exactly, Joe. Big movies have always ruled. And I think overall, the quality is probably the same. Someone saying” back in my day movies were better” has on blinders.

  136. Joe Leydon says:

    The thing to consider, Big Perm, is context. During the New Hollywood period, you had movies appearing on a fairly regular basis that were, quite literally, completely unlike anything that had been seen before. These were films (as diverse as Midnight Cowboy, M*A*S*H, Network and even In the Heat of the Night)that broke molds, pushed envelopes, and took advantage of changing attitudes toward what might be acceptable in movies. Today, you have great movies appearing… but how often do you see a movie and tell yourself, “Damn. I have never seen anything like that before”? Trust me: That count for a lot.

  137. Joe Leydon says:

    Er… That COUNTS for a lot.
    BTW: Is this the best thread we’d had on this blog for a long, long time?

  138. jeffmcm says:

    This is going way back, but:
    Movieman: I don’t blame you for not being excited about Ledger in the likes of 10 Things or A Knight’s Tale, but I was specifically singling out his Brokeback Performance as, individually, better than any single performance DiCaprio has given yet. And that includes his Catch Me If You Can performance, which is very, very good, but not quite as great.
    And I think that I kind of have to privilige a more ‘actorly’, method-y performance like what Ledger gave over the more traditionally ‘movie-star’ performances DiCaprio tends to give. ‘Movie-star’ roles are great, and they look effortless even though they aren’t, but in the end I think that there’s something more natural and inborn about having that kind of Redford/Pitt/DiCaprio charisma than being able to disappear into a character.
    Also re: Lords of Dogtown – I don’t think enough people saw it for it to have much of an impact on how people saw what Ledger could do.

  139. frankbooth says:

    Yep, Joe, it’s a good ‘un.
    Hey leahnz, there really are still Tron lovers out there. I saw it recently in a theater, on a double-bill with Brainstorm, believe it or not. It’s kind of revered by programmer-types, of which there are plenty here in Lumberton. And yes, Bridges owns the movie. His gung-ho, slightly nutty performance (dig that high-pitched scream he gives at one point) gives the movie any warmth it has.
    Now Brainstorm, on the other hand…ouch.

  140. leahnz says:

    frankbooth, you’ve restored my faith in humanity! i’m so pleased to hear my 9yr old and i aren’t the only TRON fans out there! (i agree with movieman that it’s not one of bridges finest acting opportunities, but he’s so damn good in anything he does, he makes ‘tron’ great rather than merely ground-breaking)
    i have a tender spot for ‘brainstorm’ only because it’s natalie wood’s last performance, and god i loved that woman. she’s one of the reasons i love movies as much as i do.

  141. Joe Leydon says:

    Speaking of Tron — and Titanic — what is David Warner up to these days?

  142. frankbooth says:

    Last I heard, he had a sex-change and is now a nun living in Costa Rica, tending to victims of a fungus caused by ingrown toenails. But don’t quote me on that.
    Remember when he was the go-to guy for villainy? And before that, when he was part of Peckinpah’s stock company? I think he might have even been leading-man material for five minutes in the Sixties. You’d know better than I would. What was that gorilla-suit movie?
    If I owned a theater, I’d program a David Warner festival.

  143. frankbooth says:

    Leahnz, my girlfriend was actually named after Wood.
    That’s why her name is, um, Dorothy Vallens.

  144. Joe Leydon says:

    Frankbooth: What am I, the fucking wise elder on this freakin’ blog? Are you Grasshopper, seeking widsom from… Oh, hell, the gorilla movie was Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment. OK? I am old. I turn 56 on Aug. 22. I have seen more movies than most of you guys. (Of course, I’ve had more women, too.)

  145. frankbooth says:

    And I thought Wells was the only guy who got mad when you used the “a” word.
    And I don’t doubt that you have. Though considering the movie-geek blog crowd, if you’ve had more than one and she wasn’t made of silicone and named Bianca, you’re way ahead of the pack in that regard.

  146. movieman says:

    Yep, Leahnz: “Morning” is the Pakula movie where Jeff Bridges plays a grieving widower attempting to move on with his life.
    A wonderful movie that hardly anyone saw during its theatrical run, although Warners at least gave it a wide break in April of ’89.
    Being the brazen young turk that I was back then, lol, I remember making a major auteurist case for “Kiss Me Goodbye,” even using it to beat up that Xmas season’s more universally beoved (and far more successful) “Tootsie.” Of course, I’ve come to my senses now and love both films. In fact, I recently had the chance to take another look at “Tootsie” and would give it the edge. It really is a classic.
    My only real complaint about “KMG” was the silly scarf that James Caan wore around his neck throughout the movie. But Bridges is absolutely wonderful in that screwball comedy homage’s Ralph Bellamy role, and Sally Field was at her most appealing.

  147. movieman says:

    …that should’ve read “beloved:” damnable sticking laptop key!

  148. Cadavra says:

    BigPerm, again you miss my point.
    The “ignoramuses” I was referring to are those people who think ALL old movies are bad. I never suggested that current movies suck–though many of them do, there are plenty that are wonderful. (Long-time HBers will remember that I was still insisting GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK would get a BP nom long after Poland had rated it a major long-shot.) And I never suggested that all old movies are classics–try sitting through GOD’S GIFT TO WOMEN the next time it stinks up TCM.
    What I said was that people who say all old movies are bad SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY ARE OLD are imbeciles.

  149. chris says:

    Can’t mention Pakula without the incredible “The Parallax View.” When folks talk about the great conspiracy thrillers of the ’70s, it isn’t always mentioned alongside “The Conversation” and “Three days of the Condor.” But it should be.

  150. leahnz says:

    wow, chris, ‘the parallax view’, i’d forgotten about that one, warren beatty, yeah? i’m gonna to have to hunt that down with ‘see you in the morning’ and have a bit of a pakula retrospective.
    ‘the silly scarf james caan wore around his neck’, lol, movieman

  151. movieman says:

    You would appreciate this, Leahnz, since you seem to see a lot of movies with your young son.
    In the summer of ’74, my mother drove me to downtown Pittsburgh (which was an hour and 15 minute drive from home) so we (specifically me; she was pretty much just keeping me company) could have a movie feast.
    The four films we saw that day were Altman’s “California Split,” Pakula’s “Parallax View,” the original “Death Wish” and “That’s Entertainment” (Part 1, although I actually prefer the “TE” sequel that opened four years later). We even found time for a late lunch at one of the nicer d-town restaurants.
    Since my mother died the following spring, that will always be one of my most cherished memories of her: the fact that she was willing to drop everything in the middle of the week to spend the day with me doing what I loved best (seeing movies–especially ones that weren’t available in our hick town).
    And yeah, Jimmy Caan’s neck scarfy thing in “Kiss Me Goodbye” was phenomenally annoying. A bad idea that somebody (Mulligan?) should have noticed in the dailies.
    Speaking of Caan, I’m actually a huge fan of two of his more atypical mid-70s films: Herb Ross’ “Funny Lady” (which I happen to like more than “Funny Girl”) and Mark Rydell’s “Harry and Walter Go to New York.”
    I still remember seeing “H&W” twice (in the same week, no less) at Radio City Musical Hall in June of ’76. (Caan’s “Godfather I” costar Diane Keaton is fabulous in that movie, too.)
    “The Gambler” and “The Killer Elite” both have (deserved) cult followings from that same period, but I probably have even more affection for those two (lesser loved) films.

  152. LexG says:

    Hey, I once bought “Harry and Walter Go to NY” on DVD due to its curio status and the fact that it’s NEVER, NEVER, EVER on TV (EVER.)
    Forgot I even had it. Maybe I should check that out.
    CAAN IN THIEF OWNS. How’s “Comes a Horseman”? That’s on one of the Encore networks almost DAILY.

  153. Joe Leydon says:

    LexG: Michael Caine OWNS in Harry and Walter Go to New York.

  154. movieman says:

    I totally loved “Comes a Horseman,” Lex (the great Alan Pakula again)! It’s nearly as beautiful as Malick’s “Days of Heaven,” although I’m not sure whether the film’s visual majesty would even translate on TV–and heaven knows what the original prints of the film would look like 30 years later!) And the movie Caan made for Claude LeLouch with Genevieve Bujold the year before (1977’s “Another Man, Another Chance”) is even better.
    Funny story about the Lelouh: I first saw it at a sneak preview (remember those?) at NYC’s old Loews Tower East in the early fall of ’77. That version of the film was killer: substantially longer than the truncated release print–plus, all of the French diaogue was actually SUBTITLED. When UA finally opened the movie at Thanksgiving, it was a pallid shadow of the sneak version. And the dubbing of the French-speaking characters into pidgin English rendered the whole thing risible (particulaly since none of the American characters were supposed to be able to understand them because they spoke, uh, French). I wonder if that original sneak preview version of “Man/Chance” even exists anymore.
    I’m pretty sure that that’s the version (length-wise anyway) that went out in Europe; unfortunately with another round of ghastly dubbing which, weirdly enough, is the norm over there and somehow deemed perfectly acceptable.
    And yes, I bow to no man in my ardor for Michael Mann’s testosterone masterpiece “Thief”–which reminds me: whatever became of Tuesday Weld? Wasn’t Weld’s last film appearance in Chris Columbus’ “Heartbreak Hotel”? Damn, do I miss her…and Barbara Harris, too.

  155. LexG says:

    Without consulting IMDB, I’m pretty sure she was Duvall’s wife in “Falling Down.”
    Not sure about since.

  156. leahnz says:

    movieman, what a lovely story about you and your mum, she sounds terrific. and very game taking you to four movies in one day, that is a marathon! (cool flicks, you must have been over the moon). i bet she loved every minute of it, as you obviously did; she would have seen your eyes light up and there’s no better feeling for a parent in all the world.
    going to the movies is a ritual for my boy and i, i can’t imagine life without it, we have such a blast. he’s on the cusp of handling more mature fare now, so hopefully i’ll never have to sit through another ‘alvin and the chipmunks’ again, yikes!
    speaking of caan, my mother took me to see ‘rollerball’ when i was a kid and it was so brutal and shocking and fantastic, to this day caan is ‘rollerball’ to me.

  157. leahnz says:

    and i LOVE ‘comes a horseman’, jane fonda was so great…i remember seeing it in this weird old theatre that had dilapidated sofas instead of seats with my cousin; i didn’t want to go because it was a ‘western’ and i wasn’t into it but i was so glad he dragged me along, i idolised fonda.
    man, pakula just rocked

  158. christian says:

    Greatest pop song in a movie?
    “Hello darkness my old friend…”
    I would pick about a dozen before I’d get down to MANHUNTER or GOODFELLAS…

  159. movieman says:

    You are indeed correct, Lex! She did play Duvall’s wife in “Falling Down” (one of Schumacher’s better films, I might add). Weld was apparently featured in “Feeling Minnesota,” too, but I can’t remember much of anything about that film…except how deliciously slutty Cameron Diaz looked.
    Weld also had a small part in Ethan Hawke’s “Chelsea Walls” which, despite being something of an indulgent mess, features some precious “actor moments” that I’ll treasure forever. Chief among them are the performances of Weld and Rosario Dawson.
    “Rollerball” was a total hoot, Leahnz! I never appreciated Norman Jewison’s original more than when the ghastly Chris Klein (Chris Klein?!?!) remake came out a few years back. Whatever were they thinking?
    And you should appreciate this misty, water-colored flashback, too:
    Two days before my mother died (a fatal heart attack that came without warning one Sunday morning) we drove to the suburbs of Cleveland (she let me skip school for this unofficial “movie holiday”!) for a triple feature of “The Great Waldo Pepper,” “A Woman Under the Influence” (Gena Rowlands in my favorite performance by an actress in an American movie EVER) and the largely pissed-upon (but, boy, do I dig it!) “At Long Last Love.” We even stropped for HoJo fried clams on the way home.
    Wow; I hadn’t thought of that for years.
    Thanks for triggering those super-special memories, Leahnz.
    I think I’m going to go and have a cathartic cry now.

  160. movieman says:

    …how about the Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” over the closing credits of “Shampoo” just after Warren Beatty’s George has been abandoned by the only woman he ever truly loved (played–be still my heart–by the supernal Julie Christie)?
    Or another Beach Boys tune (“All Summer Long”) played during the c/credits of “American Graffiti,” another ’70s classic? The bittersweet nostalgic vibe of that song is the perfect capper to one of the greatest American movies of all time. For my money, “Graffiti” is worth more than all six of the “Star Wars” films combined.

  161. movieman says:

    Christian- You are so right about the S&G music in “The Graduate.”
    I sometimes think their songs are the major reason I fell so hard for that movie, and why I continue showing it in my film history class every semester.
    Here are two more:
    Sinatra’s “Strangers at the Night” played at the end of “Baby It’s You” during Rosanna Arquette and Vincent Spano’s last dance (in more ways than one)…or the irresistible bubblegum of the Sandpipers’ “Come Saturday Morning” in (there he is again!) Alan Pakula’s glorious directorial debut, “The Sterile Cuckoo.”
    The tender, lilting melody of that song is the perfect aural match for the movie’s heartbreaking college romance between Liza Minnelli (never better) and (whatever happened to…..?) Wendell Burton.
    “Winter kept us warm at colleges” indeed.

  162. frankbooth says:

    I close my eyes
    And I drift away
    Into the magic night
    I softly say…
    …you know, inspiring this thread may have been Ratner’s greatest contribution to film…
    …a silent prayer
    like dreamers do…
    …long live the thread!

  163. Joe Leydon says:

    I saw The Sterile Cuckoo just before I started my freshman year of college. I spent both semesters looking for my own Pookie Adams. And since this was back in the day when a movie could remain in theatrical release (first-run, second-run, drive-ins, bottom half of double bills, etc.) for, literally, years — I must have seen the darn thing about 15 times. Movieman, you’ll appreciate this: I once saw it on a drive-in double bill with The Godfather.
    BTW: I’m glad to see Alan J. Pakula is not only not forgotten, but fondly remembered. I’m not ashamed to say I broke down in tears at the end of Orphans. Hell, I loved Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing. And I have to say: I can’t believe it’s already been ten years since his tragic death.

  164. leahnz says:

    movieman, the breadth of your film knowledge is stunning. that’s so sad about your mother, she obviously did right by you. (you know, i hadn’t thought about ‘the great waldo pepper’ in yonks, that scene of redford crashing his plane into the barn is etched on my memory from childhood. ‘misty water-coloured memories…’ hey, now there’s another good movie song, but perhaps it was written for the movie)
    ‘inspiring this thread may have been ratner’s greatest contribution to film…’ that was a good laugh, frankbooth

  165. frankbooth says:

    But I wasn’t joking!
    Leahnz, here’s my dirty little secret: I’m not really qualified to comment on the Ratt’s contribution to world culture. You know that list in D.P.’s original post? Haven’t seen a one of ’em. Not a one, ha ha ha!
    (Wow, the gas is really good tonight.)

  166. mutinyco says:

    The use of The Beach Boys over the closers of American Graffiti was intended to be ironic, I always thought. John specifically stated that he hated The Beach Boys and that rock had gone downhill since Buddy Holly died. And the final bit of info we learn was that John died as well… Cut to: All Summer Long…

  167. movieman says:

    Oh yeah, “Orphans” is terrific: it’s easily one of the best stage-to-screen transfers of the past 25 years. Finney was great in a dry-run for his “Miller’s Crossing” performance, and Matthew Modine and Kevin Anderson are fantastic as the brothers.
    And I’m totally with you on “Love and Pain,” too, Joe. That movie received such shitty distribution (Columbia Pictures, right?) that I didn’t see it until a full decade after its (limited) theatrical run on HBO. I’ve always thought that Timothy Bottoms–in “TLPS,” he was as achingly sensitive/vulnerable as James Dean in “East of Eden”–should have become a major star. Not entirely sure what happened there, but his performance in “L&P” is pitch-perfect. And Maggie Smith has never been as–okay, I’ll say it–sexy.
    I think I may have mentioned the oddball (and frequent) pairing of “Cuckoo” and “True Grit” back in the day. I probably saw that double bill three or four times, and I’d always time it so that I could sit through “Cuckoo” twice. Not sure what it was about that movie–I was all of 11 when I first saw it–but it rocked me to my very foundation. Guess I always knew that I was doomed to become a male equivalent of Pookie Adams, lol.
    Of course, I actually sat through “Ryan’s Daughter” twice in a row just to see Sarah Miles’ breast.
    I was such a hormone-addled adolescent wanker!

  168. movieman says:

    “Ironic,” Mutiny? Really?
    For better (and sometimes worse), I’ve never detected the slightest trace of irony in Lucas’ entire ouevre. And nothing even remotely close to that post-ironic crutch in “Graffiti” which is the closest thing to a humanist masterpiece he’s ever made.
    It always seemed to me that the song was chosen because of its bittersweet nostalgic vibe–and I’ve always loved how Brian Wilson’s voice pushes the notes so hard in the latter choruses that he sounds almost girly. Brings a tear to my eyes every damn time.
    The fact that “All Summer Long” practically explodes (angrily even) onto the soundtrack as the credits begin to roll (and shortly after Curt’s transistor radio konks out) endows it with an almost Proustian quality. And isn’t the girl in the convertible Curt’s madeleine anyway?

  169. Joe Leydon says:

    Sarah Miles, eh? Let me tell you about a movie called The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea… Excuse me, I’m taking a moment to remember the classic Playboy photo spread she did with co-star Kris Kristofferson to promote that film.
    And, yeah, Maggie was a hot little number in Love and Pain.
    Seeing the names Matthew Modine and Timothy Bottoms in same posting makes me a tad melancholy. Sometimes, the magic works. Sometimes, it doesn’t. Both guys really did appear poised on the verge of stardom, but… Bad career choices? Luck of the draw? Personal problems? Who knows? I’ve often said that if you’d go back and look at Modine and Nicolas Cage in Birdy, and you had no idea what directions their careers took — you’d probably think Modine would be the one who’d become a bigger star. Mind you, I don’t mean that as a swipe at Cage — I think he’s an extraordinary actor — but in 1984, Modine surely looked more like, well, a traditional leading man.

  170. mutinyco says:

    I love American Graffiti, so don’t think my take is a criticism.
    But the use of All Summer Long is an ironic slap in the face. It’s basically Kubrickian. Not only does this bright, almost garish song blast on right after we’ve quietly read depressing bios that tell us 2 of the main characters died — but, as I said, John made a point of earlier stating how much he HATED The Beach Boys. The latter is a specific setup for the end crawl.

  171. frankbooth says:

    I remember that layout, Joe. We kids had a stash of girlie mags hidden in the woods, and it was in one of them.
    Are you sure it wasn’t something more like Penthouse? It was a bit hard for Playboy, to the best of my hazy recollection.
    Never did see the film. How is it?

  172. frankbooth says:

    Nope. You were right:
    I remember some fairly explicit miming of various acts. Either Playboy was more permissive during those years, or my imagination got the best of me.

  173. Joe Leydon says:

    Trust me: It was Playboy. As I recall, in the ’60s and ’70s, the magazine routinely offered steamy photo spreads tied to new movies. (Maybe it still does, but I haven’t read it for years.) Sometimes, the photos were taken especially for Playboy. Very often, though, the photos were from naughty scenes that were cut for the movie’s US release. (I fondly remember seeing pictures of Craig Stevens getting frisky with a bare-chested beauty in scenes from Blake Edwards’ Gunn. And every time there was a new James Bond movie… whoo-hoo!)
    As for The Sailor Who Fell…, oddly enough, my wife and I saw it on our honeymoon. It was very, ahem, titillating — up to a point. After that point, things cooled. Drastically. Kinda spoiled the mood, actually. I can’t be more specific without posting a major spoiler.

  174. Joe Leydon says:

    BTW: This has turned into, hands down, the greatest thread in the history of this blog. I propose that, maybe twice a month, David open a thread called “Movie Buffs” (or something classier), in which we do nothing but chat about stuff like this. Nothing about current b.o. numbers, nothing about management changes at studios, nothing about MSM vs. Internet, nothing about The Dark Knight — just movie geeks posting about ’60s, ’70s and ’80s movies.

  175. movieman says:

    Sorry in advance if this reads as a double-post.
    I remember that Playboy photo spread on “Sailor” very well, Joe. In fact, it gave me many happy memories back in high school, LOL.
    By the time I finally saw the movie, it was almost anti-climactic.
    The Playboy pictorial was definitely hotter.
    Bottoms truly seemed star-bound after “TLPS,” and Modine looked like he was on the verge of becoming his generation’s answer to Jeff Brides by–for awhile anyway–consistently doing interesting work with interesting directors (Pakula, Alan Parker, Demme, Schlesinger, Tony Richardson, Sayles, Harold Becker, Michael Caton-Jones, etc.). Their fast career fades will always mystify me. Who would have guessed that Tim Bottoms would become the next Gary Grimes instead of the next James Dean, or Monty Clift, or Warren Beatty, or….?
    While I appreciate your argument, Mutiny, I still don’t see the irony you’re referring to–except for a skin-deep one. Milner’s comical ragging of the Beach Boys seemed more like a put-down of Mackenzie Phillips’ BB-loving character. Hell, Paul Le Mat even looks like one of the Wilson Bros.!
    If you’ve read any of the Brian Wilson bios, you know how fucked up his teenage and young adult years were. I think the song existed as a kind of fantasy to him when he wrote it, and that’s how I read it in the film: an endless summer of cool cars, hot chicks and fun, fun, fun. It also substitutes for Curt’s memory (THE memory–even if it’s not entirely true) of the summer after high school graduation before heading off to college and his brand new life.
    Memories are tricky things, though, and ultimately as elusive as the blonde in the convertible…and that damn madeleine.
    The only irony I’ve ever perceived in “All Summer Long” is the contrast between the light and fluffy lyrics and Wilson’s almost panicky, certainly desperate vocal. That’s the same dichotomy Lucas was aiming for: at least I’ve always thought so. But like everything else in life, movies, music and love, it’s entirely subjective and open to interpretation. In other words, Mutiny, I respect your take on the use of “ASL” in “Graffiti” even if I don’t necessarily agree with it.

  176. The Big Perm says:

    I would just like to say I realized if Ridley Scott had been able to direct Red Dragon instead of Hannibal, and you simply gave him the exact same cast and crew as Ratner, they would have had a classic that stood up with Silence of the Lambs and I’m sure someone would have been nominated for some Osrars. Too bad!

  177. leahnz says:

    i just wanted to add, i feel like a mere babe in the film discussion woods compared to you, joe and movieman, but it’s been a sheer pleasure just taking in everybody’s insight and having so many great memories from my youth triggered, very nostalgic and lovely indeed.

  178. Joe Leydon says:

    Yeah, as I type this while rocking on the front porch of the Old Film Critics Home, I’m feeling a little misty-eyed nostalgia right now.

  179. mutinyco says:

    Basically, you look at it as legitimate nostalgia, something almost sentimental.
    I look at it as anti-nostalgia, a cold splash of water.

  180. LexG says:

    Since we’ve mentioned Pakula, Fonda, and now Kristofferson…
    Can I get anyone’s take on ROLLOVER?
    It was an HBO/Cinemax classic way back in the day, and I actually own a vintage VHS copy of it that I’ve never opened. What can I expect?
    Kidding aside, and speaking of shit I NEED to see, I have a taped-off-TMC copy of STREAMERS. That’s got to be incredible (and DAVID ALAN GRIER IN 1983 IN AN ALTMAN???????)
    Modine’s performances in BIRDY and VISION QUEST are incredible… sometimes I’ve thought he was just too decent-seaming and white bread a guy — bordering on bland in appearance — to make it like Depp or Cruise did, but yeah, some REALLY interesting directors he worked with. Even in somewhat recent years, he popped up in some Abel Ferrara movie (The Blackout?) where he gave a perfectly awesome performance… and I even liked him as the voice of sanity holding his ground opposite Woods in Any Given Sunday.
    And I’ve done pro-Harold Becker rants here before, but that guy is quite underrated.

  181. Joe Leydon says:

    Vision Quest = Linda Fiorentino = MAJOR OWNAGE.

  182. LexG says:


  183. leahnz says:

    hey joe, i meant ‘babe in the film discussion woods’ figuratively, not literally (i’m 42 so not that much younger than you); it was meant as a compliment on your wealth of film knowledge, not a comment on your number of years, just so that you know

  184. leahnz says:

    oh, and, linda fiorentino = after hours = kiki kicks ass

  185. LexG says:

    Arquette > Fiorentino
    (But AFTER HOURS is still completely awesome. Am I imagining things or is there this increasingly loud ticking-clock sound that just amps up the tension as Dunne get in deeper and deeper?)

  186. frankbooth says:

    “Modine looked like he was on the verge of becoming his generation’s answer to Jeff Brides by–for awhile anyway–consistently doing interesting work with interesting directors (Pakula, Alan Parker, Demme, Schlesinger, Tony Richardson, Sayles, Harold Becker, Michael Caton-Jones, etc.)”
    Not to mention that war movie he made in England.

  187. movieman says:

    I think the war movie you’re referring to that Modine made in England is “Memphis Belle,” Frank. It was directed by Michael Caton-Jones whose “Scandal” was a critically acclaimed minor hit for Miramax the previous year.
    Damn! I’d forgotten all about Modine in “Streamers”! That’s an awesome movie and another great MM performance. Like “Orphans,” it was also one of the better stage-to-screen transfers of the past 25 years. Modine certainly had the knack for picking the right projects/directors there for awhile, didn’t he?
    And yes, I, too, adore “Visionquest.” (Michael Schoeffling was another fine young actor I expected great things from: last I heard he was working as a carpenter in Pennsylvania somewhere.) It pissed me off when “The Breakfast Club”–a movie that I’ve never really liked despite my mad affection for Molly Ringwald and (much of) John Hughes’ ouevre–completely stole its thunder back in February ’85 (they both opened the same day). As I recall, “VisionQuest” was a movie that got jerked around by its distributer (Warner Brothers), and was kept on the shelf for an inordinate amount of time. Maybe they were hoping that “Birdy” which opened in “limited release” (and died) the previous Xmas would make Modine a star and help sell the movie. And we all know how THAT worked out for them. Yeah, I love that movie so much that it almost turned me into a Journey fan (“Only the Young” sounded so frigging athemic/great in there, didn’t it?)
    I drove through a New Jersey ice storm to see Pakula’s “Rollover” on December 11th, 1982. As I recall, it was stunningly shot by Giuseppe Rotunno, the same Italian cinematographer who worked on a lot of Fellini movies (including the incomparable “Satyricon”). Most critics trashed it mercilessly: complaining that the plot was “incoherent” (as though the plot even mattered). Being the “good student-of-Sarris-and-all-things-auteurist” that I was, I possibly overpraised the movie. But it was certainly a valid addition to Pakula’s beloved “paranoid thriller” (“Klute,” “Parallax,” “President’s Men”) genre…and a damn sight better than the “other” Jane Fonda movie released that month: the hokey/cloying “On Golden Pond” which got a free pass from most crix because of the (admittedly sweet) pairing of Hepburn and (Hank) Fonda. “Pond” was the “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” of the early ’80s: minus that laughably dated Kramer flick’s knee-jerk liberal message-mongering.
    And yeah, Lex, “After Hours” TOTALLY OWNS! I remember thinking that Will Patton (yet another fine actor who never really got much traction career-wise) looked like Bruce Willis’ twin brother in that movie.

  188. mutinyco says:

    I take it you’re trying to be facetious?…
    The war movie shot in England was…Full Metal Jacket…

  189. movieman says:

    …and we musn’t forget Modine’s performance in another Altman masterpiece (“Short Cuts”), if only for his great good fortune starring opposite the OWN-worthy Julianne Moore. (I think you know what I mean, Lex.)
    But after Alan Rudolph’s “Equinox,” the terrific HBO movie “And the Band Played On” and Mike Figgis’ underrated “Browning Version” remake (with Modine’s “Orphans” costar Albert Finney), things sort of dried up for him.
    Of course, Renny Harlin’s “Cutthroat Island” helped sink a lot of careers, didn’t it?

  190. movieman says:

    Mutiny- For some reason I misread “war movie” as “WW II movie.”
    Yep, the Kubrick assignment was one of Modine’s choicest gigs bac when he seemed on the cusp of stardom. And it’s probably the best film he (Modine) ever made…or will ever make. Only proves my original point that Modine looked like the second coming of Jeff Bridges once upon a time.
    Question to Lex: are you familiar with the early films of Nick Gomez (“Laws of Gravity” with a pre-“Sopranos” Edie Falco and the terrifically odd Peter Greene; “New Jersey Drive;” “Illtown” with Gomez muse Adam Trese)? If not, you should definitely check him out. Gomez was on the verge of becoming the East Coast equivalent to Michael Mann before his directing career just sort of petered out.
    Gomez still works fairly steadily in television (he even did a few eps of “The Sopranos”), but his movie career seems just about over. Directing that lameass Bette Midler flick “Drowning Mona” probably seemed like a good move at the time, but, yowza!

  191. frankbooth says:

    Yes, I was referring to FMJ. Found it kind of amusing you forgot Sir Stanley. (And yes, I know he was never knighted. Can an American be?)
    Movieman, I’ll admit that I haven’t seen Laws of Gravity since it was released, but I remember it being an excruciating sub-sub-Mean Streets endeavor. Two dislikable idiots run around until the inevitable tragedy finally relieves us of their company.
    But again, it’s been a long time, and I’ve enjoyed many a film I didn’t like upon first viewing. I actually hated Bottle Rocket the first time around, for similar reasons. “These guys are morons!” But at least the latter were funny morons.

  192. frankbooth says:

    Here’s what I just learned: A non-Brit can be given an honorary knighthood, but cannot use the title “Sir.”
    Well, he’s Sir Stanley to ME.

  193. mutinyco says:

    Sir Stanley, Lord of the Bronx.

  194. yancyskancy says:

    “American Graffiti” is one of my fave films. I first saw it at the impressionable age of 15, and many times since. I sometimes think the reason I never got into “Star Wars” much is because it seemed almost like a betrayal of Lucas’ strengths as I perceived them in “Graffiti.” A year or two ago, I went to one of those Hollywood Collectors shows just to see the reunited “Graffiti” cast (well, most of them – you can probably guess who was and wasn’t there). I had a nice, longish conversation with my favorite cast member, Paul Le Mat, who was older than most of the others (he was a decorated ‘Nam vet when the film was made). My only regret is that I missed Mackenzie Phillips, who wasn’t there the day I went. I wrote an episode of her old Disney Channel show “So Weird,” but never got to meet her because it shot in Canada.

  195. Joe Leydon says:

    Paul Le Mat? Speaking of guys who once appeared destined for great things… Yes, I loved Melvin and Howard, Aloha, Bobby and Rose and Citizens Band (a.k.a. Handle with Care).

  196. movieman says:

    “Aloha, Bobby and Rose” is the movie that turned me on to Floyd Mutrux, Joe. (My top three films from the summer of 1975 were “Nashville,” “Mandingo” and “Aloha, Bobby and Rose.” Woody Allen’s “Love and Death” came in fourth.)
    LeMat and Dianne Hull (speaking of, “whatever happened to??”) broke my heart into a thousand pieces.
    Mutrux had an amazing talen for knowing how to use rock-and-roll to underscore a movie. (His use of “Benny and the Jets” in “B&R” is killer with a capital “K.”)
    “American Hot Wax” and “The Hollywood Knights” are, hand’s down, two of my favorite American movies of the past thirty years. (And Tim McIntire’s performance as Alan Freed in “AHW” is pure genius!)
    So many privileged moments for such a teensy-tiny ouevre…and why the **** hasn’t Mutrux directed a movie since 1994???
    Is it even possible to see “Dusty and Sweets McGee” these days? Does a print of the film even exist anymore? I actually own the (most excellent) “Dusty” soundtrack album–paid forty nine cents for it at a used record store in the East Village back in the late ’70s–but have, gulp, never actually seen the movie.
    Trivia note: Mutrux was referenced by name in Deep Purple’s kickass stoner anthem “Smoke on the Water.”

  197. movieman says:

    ..that should have read, “amazing talent.”
    damn sticky “t” key!

  198. leahnz says:

    lex: no, you are not imagining things. (after hours is pretty much my fave movie of all time if i had a fave movie of all time, depends on my mood)

  199. yancyskancy says:

    I’ve just looked at several lyric sites and for the life of me, I don’t see Floyd Mutrux referenced in “Smoke on the Water.” What am I missing? Is it an indirect reference of some kind?

  200. movieman says:

    …I’ve never seen written lyrics before, Yancy, but I have it on good authority that the line is, “We all went down to Mutrux’s….”
    When I had the chance to talk (briefly) with Mutrux in 1980–he was in NYC doing publicity for “The Hollywood Knights” and I tagged along for his interview with Village Voice critic Tom Allen who I was doing an internship with–I asked him about the reputed name-dropping. And he said something to the effect of, “…that’s what everyone tells me.”

  201. Cadavra says:

    Movieman, glad I’m not the only one who recognizes McIntire’s amazing performance in HOT WAX, itself a sadly overlooked picture. His absurdly premature death cost us many more sensational performances.

  202. yancyskancy says:

    Okay, movieman, I assume that’s an elaborate leg-pull, but I’ll take the bait. The line is actually “We all went down to Montreaux,” as in Switzerland. The song chronicles an incident that occurred when the band was recording there. So now everyone can get the joke, if it was one. 🙂
    McIntire is indeed wonderful in “American Hot Wax.” He’s equally brilliant in the rather hard to see “Fast-Walking,” a fine 1982 prison movie by frequent Kubrick producer James B. Harris, starring James Woods. You might be able to find a VHS around somewhere. If so, be warned — M. Emmett Walsh, of all people, goes the full monty. Don’t laugh, I’m serious. Even Kay Lenz’s nude scenes can’t quite make up for that.

  203. frankbooth says:

    Seeing as much as we did of Mr. Walsh in Straight Time was more than sufficient for me.

  204. frankbooth says:

    ..but you’ve gotta love him, even if I can’t understand him half the time.
    “Well, gimme a call whenever you wanna cut off m’ head. …”

  205. Joe Leydon says:

    Now, in Russia, they got it mapped out so that everyone pulls for everyone else. That’s the theory, anyway. But what I know about is Texas. And down here… you’re on your own.

  206. frankbooth says:

    Well ma’am…If I see him, I’ll sure give him the message. …

  207. frankbooth says:

    The world will end exactly six hours after the last post on this thread.

  208. LexG says:

    Apparently THE CHOIRBOYS was LOATHED at the time of its initial release, but I LOVE that Wambaugh novel and even though he supposedly HATED the movie, I always thought it OWNED and was HARDCORE as hell, totally of a piece with Aldrich’s other 70s stuff.
    And that CAST — Woods, McIntyre, Perry King, Charles Haid, Don Stroud, BURT FUCKING YOUNG, VIC FUCKING TAYBACK, Randy Quaid, STEPHEN MACHT!
    That’s a veritable ROLL CALL OF ’70S OWNAGE.
    THE CHOIRBOYS COMMANDS YOUR ASS. (Too bad it hasn’t commanded a DVD release, but you best believe I’ve owned multiple copies on VHS.)
    Fun MUTRUX fact: In BOOGIE NIGHTS, when Tom Jane and crew are planning the half-assed ripoff of Molina, Jane/Todd Parker references someone named MUTRUX. I can’t imagine a SoCal film geek like PTA WASN’T paying homage to the director of HOT WAX and HOLLYWOOD KNIGHTS.

  209. movieman says:

    …I think that the “Smoke on the Water” thing may stem from the fact that Mutrux (like, um, Rob Cohen) was involved in the music biz before directing films. He was on a first-name basis with a lot of musicians on the L.A. scene.
    Yes, “Fast Walking” is an interesting film with another fine Tim McIntire performance (watch for a supporting turn from John Friedrich of “The Wanderers”), but “The Choirboys” is frigging amazing. You are so right about this one, Lex.
    The viciousness of the reviews at the time of the film’s release stunned me: I just assumed that everyone else had seen the same primitive auteurist masterpiece that I had. (It was the same kind of virulent response that greeted Dick Fleischer’s “Mandingo” two years earlier.) I really do think that it’s Aldrich’s greatest post-“Dirty Dozen” movie….although “The Grissom Gang” and “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” are pretty damn special, too.
    Don Stroud was one of my favorite character actors–a real Ralph Meeker/Aldo Ray type–of the late 60s/early 70s.
    Does anyone know whether Stroud is still alive or not?
    (I should have probably just clicked on IMDB, lol.)

  210. yancyskancy says:

    Don Stroud is indeed alive. According to imdb, he’s 64 yrs old and has a low budget horror movie in production (his first credit since 1999). In the early ’90s, he received multiple stab wounds while trying to thwart a mugging, losing an eye in the process (I presume this explains his lack of credits for 1994). Some career he’s had: surfing champ, stunt double for Troy Donahue, bouncer/manager for the Whisky-a-Go-Go, Playgirl centerfold.

  211. yancyskancy says:

    I’ve always wanted to see The Choirboys. It was so completely maligned upon release that I figured it HAS to be good (just like Mandingo, as movieman said). Aldrich definitely owns. I mean OWNS. Fleischer, too (I recently discovered The Don is Dead, which is damn good). I saw Fleischer speak twice at the Egyptian theatre (screenings of The Narrow Margin and The Boston Strangler). It’s great that he lived long enough to enjoy a bit of rediscovery.

  212. movieman says:

    The majority of critics at the time treated “Mandingo” and “The Choirboys” like someone had vomited all over their typewriters.
    The level of righteous indignation would’ve been funny if I hadn’t loved the movies so much.
    I remember how excited I was to discover a British film magazine in late ’75 that devoted virtually an entire issue to critic Robin Wood’s
    exegesis on “Mandingo.” The fact that he used it to beat up “Nashville” was vaguely unsettling since I loved “Nashville,” too, but Wood was kind of the Armond White of his day: a crackpot contrarian who occasionally seemed like a visionary.

  213. LexG says:

    Robin Wood’s “Hollywood From Vietnam to Reagan” is a film history course mainstay; The guy was kind of an anti-patriarchal nutter, but a really interesting writer. At the time I kind of hated some of his contrarian and sometimes arbitrary views… but over time I’ve gone back to Wood again and again.
    He’s one of the few critics of the time to have launched sound, intelligent defenses of ’70s horror… especially his takes on “Last House on the Left” and some of the earlier slasher films. And he was ahead of his time in his thoughtful appraisals of thinfs like Friedkin’s “Cruising” and Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate.”

  214. Cadavra says:

    Funny how Lex rollcalls the ownage of CHOIRBOYS and leaves out the one person I would’ve thought would be the obvious choice: Barbara Rhoades. Yum.
    Yes, it’s a terrific film, and pretty faithful to the book, Wambaugh’s complaints notwithstanding, but I think most knowledgeable people would consider Aldrich’s best post-DD film to be EMPEROR OF THE NORTH (POLE), which coincidentally is playing at the Aero this weekend (must be seen in a theatre for fullest appreciation). LONGEST YARD and GRISSOM GANG are classic as well, though very few of his pictures are less than excellent.

  215. movieman says:

    Yeah, Robin Wood did some of his best work writing about the films of Larry Cohen. Great stuff.

  216. movieman says:

    Pardon moi if this is a repeat, but Movable Type is fucking with me again.
    Hear, hear Cadavra! “Emperor of the North Pole” and “The Longest Yard” (such a wonderfully angry Nixon-Watergate screed!) are both excellent films. But I guess I have a soft spot for “Grissom” because of Kim Darby (wherefore art thou, Kim?) and “Gleaming” because, well, it was frigging Burt Lancaster and Richard Widmark. ‘Nuff said. But, yes, Aldrich most definitely OWNED.
    And “All the Marbles” is another late-career Aldrich beauty, isn’t it? Of course, the fall of ’81 brought a treasure trove of auteurist twilight gems (including Cukor’s “Rich and Famous” and Wilder’s “Buddy, Buddy”). Interestingly, all three were released by UA/MGM. Not surprisingly–but regretably–they all tanked.

  217. yancyskancy says:

    I remember liking “All the Marbles” well enough, except for that De Vol score. Haven’t seen it in ages though.
    But “Buddy, Buddy?” Again, it’s been ages, but at the time I was with the majority opinion on that one. In fact, the friend I saw it with vowed to never again pay full evening price for a movie, and he still hasn’t to this day. And I think the price at the time was only like 4 bucks. 🙂

  218. Joe Leydon says:

    Buddy Buddy was a remake of a really funny French movie — L’Emmerdeur (1973), released in this country as A Pain in the A–, starring Jaques Brel and the great Lino Ventura in the roles played by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in the remake. The original was written by Francis Veber, who adapted the script from his own play — and, BTW, is currently working on a remake of the remake in France. A few years ago, I interviewed Veber — who has written and/or directed lots of other flicks remade by US moviemakers — and we both agreed that, as great a director as Billy Wilder was, he really blew it with Buddy, Buddy. Sorry.
    Here’s a list of Veber’s credits:

  219. frankbooth says:

    Speaking of Lino Ventura, I just saw Touchez pas Grisbi, which I guess was his first film. Old Gabin and young Moreau in a tough gangster flick. It’s a good one, but I feel I’ve breached ettiquette by mentioning the wrong era. (Anybody seen the one he did with Belmondo? Classe tu Risque, or something like that.)
    What was so sordid about The Choirboys, anyway? My dad used to read those Wambaugh books, but I was more interested in Harlan Ellison in those days and I never picked one up. And of course, the movie is unavailable on DVD.

  220. Cadavra says:

    Yes, MARBLES is excellent. Marvelous observation by Aldrich when it came out: he said it was much easier to teach actresses to wrestle than to teach wrestlers to act.

  221. yancyskancy says:

    frank: Claude Sautet’s “Classe tous risques” is the film you’re thinking of. I haven’t seen it, but the Criterion disc is out now. I’m looking forward to it, because I’m a big Sautet fan, and I’m interested to see him working in a noirish vein.
    “Grisbi” is great. I got to see that and a few other Jean Becker films during an American Cinematheque Becker retro at the Egyptian a few years ago. All great, especially “Le Trou” and “Casque d’Or.”

  222. yancyskancy says:

    Eh, meant JACQUES Becker, of course. Jean was his son.

  223. frankbooth says:

    Thanks, yancy. Yes, my French is tres abominable.
    I get the sense that the film was ahead of its time. Aging gangsters trying to get out of the biz, the emphasis on the mundane (teeth-brushing) mixed with genre elements like running gun battles and hostage-taking. What other Becker do you recommend?
    Meanwhile, more than six hours went by without a post. Somebody dropped the ball, but I’m not pointing fingers, Joe.
    The world did indeed end, but only for three and a half seconds. Bet most of you didn’t even notice.

  224. yancyskancy says:

    frank: I’ve seen 4 Becker films, the 3 mentioned above plus “Rendezvous de Juillet.” I wouldn’t hesitate to heartily recommend all 4. I think Rendezvous is available only on VHS, but Criterion has the others on DVD. “Grisbi” is the only one that deals with then-contemporary gangster life, but “Casque d’Or” is set among Parisian gangs of the 1890s, and “Le Trou” is a prison break story. “Rendezvous de Juillet” concerns rebellious youth in post-war Paris. Anyway, they’re all masterful.

  225. jeffmcm says:

    I just wanted to point out the miraculous metamorphosis this thread made, from Brett Ratner to Jacques Becker, like a caterpillar into a butterfly.

  226. Joe Leydon says:

    Frank: Sorry. I let my drinking get in the way of my posting. To make amends: If you have RetroPlex as part of your Encore cable package, check out tomorrow night: The Laughing Policeman, in which Louis Gossett Jr. (as a badass cop) delivers the immortal line: “Whatever you’re reaching for better be a sandwich, ’cause you’re gonna have to eat it!”

  227. yancyskancy says:

    jeff: hilarious observation 🙂
    Joe: Good call on Laughing Policeman, which I have on DVD (it can be found for peanuts). Stuart Rosenberg never topped his own Cool Hand Luke, but this one has some great scenes, including crime scene and ER stuff that plays like an Altman-esque procedural. There’s a great role for Bruce Dern, and this period of Walter Matthau’s career is ceaselessly fascinating to me. After The Fortune Cookie and The Odd Couple, who would’ve pegged him to topline thrillers and crime dramas? Such casting still seems fresh more than 30 years down the road.

  228. Joe Leydon says:

    Well, actually, Matthau started out in fairly serious stuff — take a look at Fail Safe, for example — but you’re right: After The Odd Couple, it was always kinda-sorta jarring to see him get down to serious business. Of course,he managed to do a little of both in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.

  229. yancyskancy says:

    Yeah, Matthau did a lot of dramatic supporting roles early on (King Creole, A Face in the Crowd, etc.), so I wonder if the comedy stuff seemed like a stretch to ’60s audiences?
    Speaking of early, dramatic Matthau, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is showing two weekends of Richard Quine films, and one of the highlights is the 1960 melodrama “Strangers When We Meet,” with Kirk Douglas, Kim Novak, Ernie Kovacs and Matthau as a neighbor who’s not as amiable as he seems. He has a very intense scene with the excellent Barbara Rush, who plays Douglas’ wife. It screens this Saturday night with Judy Holliday comedy The Solid Gold Cadillac.
    Okay, what tangent is this thread going to take next?

  230. Joe Leydon says:

    Yancy: I wonder what it’s like for some moviegoers to see an old movie featuring Leslie Nielsen — some flick made before Airplane! — and discover that, holy smoke, there was a time when the dude was, like, a serious actor.

  231. yancyskancy says:

    Joe: Probably takes them right out of it. I have to admit that I get an involuntary chuckle when I see Nielsen in his older, serious roles, even when it’s something I first saw many years prior to his Zucker years.
    Just noticed that “The Laughing Policeman is also airing tonight at 1:00 a.m. PST on Fox Movie Channel. They’re probably more likely than RetroPlex to show it letterboxed.

  232. Joe Leydon says:

    Yancy: Thanks for the head’s up. I’ll record it.
    Speaking of taking audiences out of it: A few years ago, I showed Dark Victory to my college students. Most of them were vaguely aware that Ronald Reagan had been an actor at some time in the dim and distant past. But none of them had actually seen him in a movie. And a few were positively amazed to see the future US Prez playing a party-hearty guy who never appears entirely sober in any scene. The only thing I can compare it to: If, say, some twentysomething looked at a ’60s Beach Party movie, and spotted Hilary Clinton as a bikini-clad supporting player.

  233. L.B. says:

    And with the mention of PELHAM, the butterfly becomes an eagle. Or at least some kind of magic butterfly that delivers presents.
    I’ve always had an appreciation for Joseph Sargent, based on that and COLOSSUS and a couple of others (including some fine TV work). He’s a workman, no discernable style really, but when he hit good material he brought it home. Not one of the greats, but a definite pretty-damn-good.
    And PELHAM also features masterful work by David Shire (not to switch skill sets). One of the joys of ZODIAC was getting a chance to have him work his wonders again.

  234. Joe Leydon says:

    Joseph Sargent: An unjustly unsung pro. From Lassie espisodes in the easrly ’60s to last April’s Sweet Nothing in My Ear (a TV-movie with Jeff Daniels and Marlee Matlin). Damn. Other impressive TV work: WWII: When Lions Roared (with Michael Caine as an improbably convincing Joseph Stalin), Emmy-winning Something the Lord Made (with Alan Rickman and, no joke, Mos Def), Terrible Joe Moran (James Cagney’s swan song, a classy effort), The Night That Panicked America (Paul Shenar great as Orson Welles in a docudrama about the War of the Worlds broadcast).
    And don’t forget White Lightning with Burt Reynolds.

  235. frankbooth says:

    It IS possible to drink and post, Joe. Ask Lex.
    No, don’t.
    I just got back from The Exiles, and am in an odd mood. Anyone see it?
    I love Pelham, and have a soft spot for The Laughing Policeman. Some great locations in that one.
    Here’s a tangent for you: In the Conversation, what’s supposed to be the lobby to Duvall’s office is actually outdoors. Well, it’s kind of an outdoor-indoor mall, but in reality it’s nothing like what it appears to be in the film.
    Didn’t Sargent direct Jaws: The Revenge? A highly misunderstood and underrated film. Someday, I will finally sit down and compose the essay that will rehabilitate that movie’s reputation.
    (Okay, you twisted my arm. The shark is a metaphor. It’s all in Ellen Brody’s mind, which is why it appears to be artificial. The “phoniness” of the shark is actually a subtle visual cue that none of it is real.)

  236. Joe Leydon says:

    Actually, what I remember most about Jaws: The Rvenge is — this was the movie Michael Caine was on location shooting when he finally won his first Oscar (for Hannah and Her Sisters) — so he couldn’t be on hand to actually receive the award. Oh, dear.

  237. Joe Leydon says:

    BTW: I don’t like to link to my own blog more than 2-3 times a week… LOL… but since we’ve been talking about Stuart Rosenberg:
    Any other filmmakers you folks can think of who earned their mark in film history with just a single film? (Off the top of my head, I’m thinking Lewis Gilbert for Alfie.)

  238. frankbooth says:

    One day, Caine will realize he did the right thing. It’s easily the best Jaws since the first one.
    I think I remember that WOTW broadcast movie. You know who I always thought would make a good Wells? That twinkly-eyed, bearded guy from the second Star Trek series. Frakes, I think. He seems the right kind of smoothie, kinda resembles the young Wells and has the deep voice.

  239. Joe Leydon says:

    Well, Vincent D’Onofrio did a pretty dang good job as Welles in Ed Wood. And, for that matter, I bought Liev Schrieber as OW in RKO 281.

  240. frankbooth says:

    I never saw RKO 281, but Schrieber seems the wrong type physically. D’Onofrio was great, though.

  241. frankbooth says:

    I don’t know why Lorraine Gary didn’t get more work. She was my favorite Ellen Brody, hands-down.

  242. leahnz says:

    frankbooth, was there another ellen brody besides gary? (this might sound weird coming from a heterosexual woman, but whenever i watch ‘jaws’ i always think to myself, ‘that’s a fine looking woman’…)

  243. frankbooth says:

    I don’t think the sex of the shark was ever determined, leahnz, though they called it Bruce on the set.
    But it was indeed very attractive.

  244. frankbooth says:

    Ohhhhhh, you meant….now I get it. Sure, she was a fine-looking in a Long Island hausfrau kind of way.
    Yes, she was the only Mrs. Brody outside of community theater Jaws reenactments. And yes, Jaws IV was among the very worst big-budget films ever made, mind-bogglingly, stupifyingly bad.
    I just thought it would be fun to defend it, because as far as I know, no one ever has. But I’m no Armond White, and nutty contrarianism is harder than it looks.
    It’s hard out here for a troll.

  245. frankbooth says:

    But I do still maintain that Jaws: The Revenge is the fourth best in the series, and I won’t back down on that.
    And with that, I may have finally killed the thread.
    C’mon, guys. Nutty contrarian opinions. Everybody has a few. No one’s looking, come out of the closet.
    Don’t leave me with blood on my hands!

  246. L.B. says:

    I would have read that essay, frank. I always thought the shark had a hidden lair where he was able to tap phone lines and plot courses to the Bahamas on his huge light-up map. But imaginary Bruce is starting to make some sense. I’ll write my essay on how MONSTER’S BALL and Halle Berry’s subsequent career are a metaphor for U.S. spending policy and we can release both as a flip book. With lots of cartoons. Kids love film theory and cartoons.

  247. yancyskancy says:

    I can’t weigh in on the Jaws sequels, ’cause I only caught bits and pieces of them on HBO or whatever. But I’ll keep an open mind next time I come across the Revenge.
    No disrespect to the great D’Onofrio, but his performance as Welles was greatly enhanced by having his voice dubbed by Maurice Lemarche, who was also responsible for the Wellesian tones of The Brain (on “Pinky and the…”).

  248. yancyskancy says:

    Oh, and Joe Sargent also directed one of the great TV movies, The Marcus-Nelson Murders, a true crime story that also served as a pilot of sorts for Kojak. And whatever happened to Gene Woodbury anyway?

  249. leahnz says:

    ‘she was the only mrs. brody outside of community theatre jaws reenactments’…another good laugh, frankbooth

  250. Cadavra says:

    LeMarche captures Welles’ timber so spot-on it’s positively eerie. I heard him do it live at an animation panel last year, and you could feel the audience freeze for just a nanosecond as if The Great Man himself had been behind a curtain.
    All the JAWS sequels stink. The first one told the story brilliantly. All that followed were just blatant attempts to wring more dough out of a premise that had nothing more to offer. Sadly, the one that might have been good–Joe Dante’s spoof JAWS 3, PEOPLE 0–never got made.

  251. frankbooth says:

    It’s alive…ALIVE!
    You guys have restored my faith in humanity, though I think I scared Joe off with the Jaws stuff.
    In all honesty, I agree, Cadavra. If ever a movie didn’t call for a sequel…
    In my world, there’s one Halloween, two Aliens, two Mad Maxes, two Godfathers and — obviously, I hope! — one Chinatown.
    How about a op-up book, L.B.? Imagine the potential for the Monster’s Ball sex scene.

  252. Joe Leydon says:

    Wasn’t Lorraine Gary the wife of somebody important? I mean, wasn’t the (perhaps unfair) rap that she got her acting gigs only because she was Mrs. So and So? (I know: I should look that up, but I’m… lazy.)

  253. L.B. says:

    You mean we can have one of those serated paper whhels that you can turn to make Billy Bob Thornton’s ass pump in and out? You got yourself a deal, frank.
    Lorraine was the wife of Sid Sheinberg, who ran Universal and pretty much birthed Spielberg’s career. But I’m sure she got the part based on a stellar audition. (Not dissing her. Sometimes nepotism pays off.)

  254. yancyskancy says:

    frank, would I lose all credibility with you if I admit to seeing The Two Jakes TWICE during its theatrical run? FWIW, I will in no way suggest that it’s remotely as good as Chinatown, but I did enjoy it. Trivia: Rebecca Broussard, who plays Jake’s secretary, was his lady at the time and has a couple of kids with him. She’s also from my Kentucky hometown. My sister graduated high school with her. One of their friends got an answering machine message from Nicholson when Rebecca’s first baby was born.

  255. christian says:

    A 70’s thread and nobody mentions OPEN SEASON from 1974 with Peter Fonda, John Law and William Holden? I have achieved lower-case total ownage.

  256. Joe Leydon says:

    AND Cornelia Sharpe, who was TOTALLY hot in Open Season, Serpico and one of my fave under-rated cop movies of the ’70s — Busting.

  257. L.B. says:

    Directed by Peter “Italian Job” Collinson. Definitely worth tracking down.

  258. L.B. says:

    On that note, I’ll toss in Fuzz. Probably not a great movie. (I haven’t seen it in ages.) But I loved it as a kid and I don’t think I’ve ever seen my dad laugh so hard. I have a personal attachment to it just for that. I’d like to catch up with it again, but I’m worried it would be one of those “what were we thinking?” moments.
    However, it does have a seriously bad-ass 70s cast. Reynolds, Weston, Welch, Brynner, Skerritt. If they’d managed to slip Harvey Keitel, Robert Shaw, John Cazale, and Jack Warden into it, the film could single-handedly devour the entire decade.

  259. lazarus says:

    Due to Joe’s accidental post in a more recent thread, I just learned about this one. I’m sad I wasn’t able to participate sooner, especially for all the Alan Pakula talk from days ago.
    Anyway, I’m glad frankbooth mentioned Jonathan Frakes; from the first moment I saw Star Trek: TNG I thought he was a dead ringer for Welles, appearance and voice. Too bad he’s now directing stuff like TimeStoppers or whatever that crap was called, because he did a great job on First Contact.
    And I’ll also throw in my hat for The Two Jakes. Of course nothing could ever top the original, but it’s a stranger, more ambitious affair that is better than it has any right to be. Nicholson’s direction is a bit OTT at times, but very creative. Man has a good eye, and it’s a shame him and Towne were never able to sit down and agree on a third installment. Lord know there’s another political mystery to be exhumed in this fair city.

  260. leahnz says:

    frankbooth, ‘in my world there’s one halloween, two aliens, two mad maxes, two godfathers…’ damn, i live in that exact same world, frank.
    i think it was joe who mentioned ‘the indian runner’ in another thread, one of my all-time fave movies and an unheralded gem imho, great writing and direction by penn and performances by viggo, morse, golino, bronson, arquette, hopper…not exactly iconic ’70, i know, but i thought it was worth a mention if only because it’s kick ass and gritty

  261. lazarus says:

    A very good debut film from Penn.
    I also have a soft spot for The Crossing Guard, mainly for Morse’s performance, and Jack’s, which is probably better than all the stuff he’s done since.

  262. Joe Leydon says:

    Laz: I have said it elsewhere, so I might as well say it here: Penn got Nicholson’s best two performances of the last 20 years — Crossing Guard (with the criminally under-rated Morse) and The Pledge. For the life of me, I still can’t understand how Nicholson didn’t get an Oscar nom for the latter.

  263. frankbooth says:

    Wow, I

  264. christian says:

    I’ve been thinking for days that this is your kind of thread, but we don’t have a special spotlight with your name on it.
    Who knew a Brett Ratner thread would evolve so much? And clearly, like a streak of light, I arrive just in time…
    THE CHOIRBOYS is fairly faithful to the book, which comes across as distasteful, so I think most critics never even read the book. Wambaugh included,

  265. Joe Leydon says:


  266. Lota says:

    late to the 70s party…deadlines
    best 70s TV movies…they should be remade with good director and NO CGI;
    Don;t be afraid of the dark
    Dr. Cook’s garden
    +important+ 70s films *aside* from those mentioned (well maybe some of these were metnioned but I didn;t see) IMUHO:
    play misty for me (CLint has never done better)
    don’t look now
    billy jack
    the getaway
    alice doesn’t live here anymore
    jackson county jail

  267. Lota says:

    i forgot great respect to Paul bartel may he RIP
    Eat My Dust
    Death Race 2000
    Big Bad Mama
    Private Parts

  268. frankbooth says:

    I didn’t scroll through far enough, Joe. I feel deep shame.
    There is a remake of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark on the way. Will it be CGI-free? I don’t know, but you can probably guess. Weep now, get it all out.
    Has anyone mentioned Freebie and the Bean yet? Someone should.

  269. Lota says:

    I cry alot already Frank. Stay off the gas please, it makes you crazy. Next time I say hit me, I mean with an idea.
    I knew about DBAOTD for awhile, but I was hoping it would be on the backburner until it would be done as a psych thriller with no CGI.
    It was on reruns in the 80s and many little kids saw it…like me, and were traumatized for life.
    one of my cousins will call once a year or so at 3 AM and when I answered would whisper “SSssssssalllllllyy we want yoooooooo”. I wouldn;t sleep for days. I haven’t had a phone call like that in almost 2 years but…it will happen when I least expect it.
    There are hundreds of thousands of 30-somethings traumatized by that movie.
    It could be something great. I just hope they don;t make the demons look like f*cking CGI raisinettes. or goobers.

  270. Lota says:

    I think my siblings and friends called me too. Good thing my name isn;t Sally and I can disconnect.

  271. L.B. says:

    I just read the news of the DBAOTD remake. Del Toro co-wrote and will produce, so there’s hope for it, I think.

  272. jeffmcm says:

    ‘in my world there’s one halloween, two aliens, two mad maxes, two godfathers…’
    Okay, a little (hopefully minor) contrarianism. While the first Halloween is a masterpiece, I think that the Carpenter co-written-and-produced Halloween II is a perfectly respectable extension, and one that has a genuine mood of still-in-the-midst-of-the-crisis panic to it. And it’s tons better than any of the other sequels, with the possible exception of H20.
    And I count myself as an admirer, of sorts, of Godfather III. Again, not up to the same level as the first two, but ignore the narrative and just watch it as a collection of pulpy Mafia and Catholic-Conspiracy tropes and it’s got something that pure hackwork could never achieve.
    Fincher’s Alien3 though, I spit upon.

  273. Joe Leydon says:

    Damn. This was a great thread until the children came back.

  274. jeffmcm says:

    Joe, Joe, Joe…
    If you think what I just wrote was so painfully immature and foolish, I would be happy to have a discussion on whatever the cinematic subject is, because I don’t think I said anything particularly out of left field, digressive, self-absorbed, hateful, etc.
    Or, you could just ignore me and my immature, foolish ways instead of doing what you just did, which seemed to serve no useful purpose.

  275. LexG says:

    Hey, we mentioned “Fuzz,” “The Choirboys,” and Aldrich and general, and got no love for “Hustle.” I LOVE that movie. Total Aldrich, total ’70s… part procedural that’s as of its time as, say, “Two Minute Warning” or “Earthquake,” yet also half weird, swoony, Euro-tinged and mournful, with a depressing shock ending and a really solid Burt performance.
    Hey, is “Busting” that Peter Hyams flick with Robert Blake and Elliot Gould? Yet another thing I taped off Cinemax years ago and never got around to.
    But “Freebie and the Bean” is awesome. By Richard Rush, one of the weirdest directors in the history of weirdness.
    Jeff is right about “Halloween II,” by the way. 1, 2, even 3 have that great prime Carpenter feel, with the Cundey lensing and his then regular players in all the supporting parts. I’ve always contended the “Halloween” series was all about Carpenter, not the character of Michael Myers.

  276. jeffmcm says:

    Thank you, Lex, I appreciate it.

  277. Joe Leydon says:

    Well, it was fun while it lasted. For me, at least: King, this case is closed.

  278. lawnorder says:

    Having just watched WHITE LIGHTNING on MGM HD Channel for the first time in a couple of years (in 1.85 aspect ration, unlike the shitty DVD release), I have to sing its praises again, especially the solid directing by Joseph Sargent and my third favorite Burt Reynolds 70’s performance (other two being Deliverance and Longest Yard). The opening where Ned Beatty offs Gator’s brother and the other kid in the river has stuck in my head since I first saw Lightning as a kid. Beatty made one helluva great villain. His portrayal of a corrupt Southern sheriff – gregarious and rattle snake mean at the same time – is worth the price of admission alone. You’d think Lightning would be just another dumb-ass exploitation flick of the period, but there’s a lot more going on under the surface.
    Speaking of obscure 70’s films – I just watched HICKEY & BOGGS on MGM HD for the first time – mainly because of my love for Walter Hill who penned the screenplay. Talk about a dark, fucked-up, nihilistic forerunner to Lethal Weapon. Highly recommended for 70’s cop movie, hard-ass fans. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Bill Cosby play a character like this one and Robert Culp is super cool.
    Anyone a fan of DARK OF THE SUN with Rod Taylor? If you’re a fan of the hard-assed mercenary genre (Dogs of War, Wild Geese, etc.), then you’ll love this one. It plays on Turner Classic Movies occasionally, but is not available (legitimately) on DVD. And while we’re on the “darks,” I enjoy me some Rod Taylor as Travis McGee in DARKER THAN AMBER.
    THE CHOIRBOYS – the novel – by Wambaugh is one of the best reads you’ll ever have. But the movie is a mess and doesn’t come close to capturing the depraved tone of the book. Seriously, give the book a read. Another superior Wambaugh book is LINES AND SHADOWS dealing with an undercover team of cops on the US/Mexican border – Wambaugh was way ahead on the immigration issue.

  279. frankbooth says:

    C’mon, Joe. We’re all getting along here. Even Lex is in Dr. Jekyll mode.
    Don’t make me play Anwar Sadat, it’s out of character for me.
    Lota, I was scarred by that movie and I’ve never even seen the whole thing. We kids were sent off to bed an hour in, but my mother was all too happy to share the details with us the next day. “And then these little coconut-headed men carried her into the crawlspace.” Having to imagine it was probably worse than actually seeing it.
    I still wonder if I should ever watch it. Might ruin it for me.
    Jeff, I can’t tell the Halloweens apart after 3, but I don’t doubt 2 is second best. Haven’t seen it since I first caught it , at a drive-in, appropriately enough. The most common complaint is that it lacks Carpenter’s touch and is more of a Friday the Thirteenth-style kill-fest.
    I saw Godfather 3 more than once when it was released, and it does deliver the Godfathery goods. It draws you in and is impossible to turn off, and contains some good performances and sequences. But then there’s the absense of Duvall, and the distracting casting: George Hamilton? Guido Sarducci? And you-know-who, though I’m not sure how much better Winona would have been. (And what was John Savage doing in there?)
    Also, Pacino’s performance seems miscalculated at times. Did we really want to see a pathetic Michael Corleone?
    It’s not a disaster, but it’s unnecessary. The first two were made to make money, yes, but the third has no reason to exist OTHER than to make money.
    Alien 3 is bad, yes. Aside from so callously killing major characters from 2, the big problem is you can’t go back. Once we’ve seen the queen and the epic carnage of Aliens, one measly critter doesn’t cut it. But at least it felt like an Alien movie. 4 was a bad cartoon and often laugh-out-loud awful. Winona’s performance had me and a buddy in stitches.
    (And why doesn’t the science ever advance when hundreds of years pass between films? Why do spaceships have steamy boiler rooms, and guns shoot bullets?)
    Lex, Rush is a weirdo, all right. Color of Night (Jane March — all together, now — OWNS) is a bizarro good time.
    Now Joe and Jeff hug, and no ear-biting.

  280. LexG says:

    “White Lightning” and “Gator” both completely own; The latter has this awesome fight scene between Burt and Jerry Reed, where they’re punching each other through concession stands or something.
    Too bad it, too, is panned-and-scanned on its cheapie DVD, even more egregious than its predecessor since Burt shot it wide-screen in 2.35:1. Lots of soft focus and some interesting angles; Between it, “Sharky’s Machine,” and the serious parts of “Stick,” always thought Reynolds was a pretty solid director.
    I’ve only seen bits and pieces of “Hickey and Boggs,” but definitely should fast-track that. It’s not every day you get to see The Cos laying laws in a hardcore crime flick.
    Jane March 1994 was beyooooond ownage.

  281. yancyskancy says:

    I recently saw th 1975 revenge drama “Framed,” starring Joe Don Baker and directed by Phil Karlson. Great, unflinching stuff. It was Karlson’s last film, made when he was about 67, but even though it traffics in some classic noir plot moves, it doesn’t feel like a retread. Add it to your queue, ’70s fans.
    Saw most of “Dirty Mary Crazy Larry” on Fox Movie Channel a while back – quite the wild ride and pretty funny, too. They’ve also shown “Vanishing Point,” which I’ve wanted to see ever since it came out but I never manage to catch it (you may remember that it got a shout-out last year in “Death Proof”).
    Would love to see those Reynolds flicks again, and “Hickey and Boggs,” which I haven’t seen since I was maybe 14.

  282. lazarus says:

    Speaking of Reynolds as director, Lex, I’ve become curious about checking out his suicide black comedy The End after reading a couple mixed/positive reviews. And I remember Sharky’s Machine fondly, though it’s been a while.
    Another great one with Reynolds in front of the camera is Robert Aldrich’s Hustle, costarring Catherine Denueve (!). Picked that up last year and was very impressed.

  283. L.B. says:

    Two Minute Warning is a pretty entertaining movie. Not for the best reasons. You can almost hear Cassavettes thinking, “Okay, this should pay for the Bookie sound mix.” And who can beat Heston saying “Who would want to kill an associate professor of botany?” But the best is after they’ve spotted a man with a high-powered rifle in the tower and Heston says, “Let’s wait for him to make his move.” Really? You can’t do anything about a guy with a rifle until he opens fire? Huh. Even so, it’s kind of beautiful for what it is. It’s right up there with Rollercoaster, the film that features the busiest Amusement Park Safety Inspection office in all of Christendom.
    The End is pretty funny, as much as I can remember it. Funniest movie about suicide until Heathers rolled around at least.
    70s Reynolds. With or without the ‘stache there were none cooler.

  284. L.B. says:

    Halloween II has it’s moments. Best use of “Mr. Sandman”, for sure. But it was more of a Halloween-the-13th than the original. It loses a lot of its character and the Laurie-is-his-sister angle never really worked for me. But I think having a homicidal killer just decide to stalk you and your friends is far more terrifying than there being some long-lost secret motive. Picky, picky.

  285. L.B. says:

    Halloween II has it’s moments. Best use of “Mr. Sandman”, for sure. But it was more of a Halloween-the-13th than the original. It loses a lot of its character and the Laurie-is-his-sister angle never really worked for me. But I think having a homicidal killer just decide to stalk you and your friends is far more terrifying than there being some long-lost secret motive. Picky, picky.

  286. L.B. says:

    Sorry for the double. And the bad apostrophication.

  287. christian says:

    SHARKY’S MACHINDE is Reynolds best directed movie. Very good stuff in there, especially the camraderie between Reynoldds, Bernie Casey and Brian Keith.
    It’s unfuckingbelievable GATOR is not widescreen on DVD — neither is HOOPER.
    ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE takes on a whole new tone with Blake, but it’s still an ultimate 70’s film.

  288. Lota says:
    “An audaciaous man of action capable of a tender hopeless love which could only last a day

  289. Lota says:

    Frank, you need to man up and watch it.
    Make sure no one is home, a violent storm is in progress and there is no way out of your home and none of your lights work.
    Get some PBR and give Dorothy the night off.
    Kim Darby is not to bright … tortured by demons to be sure, but then, there would be no one for demons to torture if we didn’t have people devoid of common sense.
    I only saw it once since my childhood scarring episode–(originally, I had seen it on reruns in daytime in the end of the 80s I think somewhere on cable and my mummy didn;t know)
    where I bought a tape off the internet. The tape wasn’t in very good condition, but I watched it and I was sorry that I was by myself. There is something very unsettling about it, espeicllay when you realize that one of the demons at least is likely her grandfather and the others likely relatives involved in some family secret that they are going to drag her into literally and figuratively.
    For psychological horror it can’t be beat.
    I think I might buy it again just to have it for posterity.
    Plus Dr. Cook’s Garden. After that movie I could nver think of Bing Crosby as a friendly-seeming crooner. He sacred the F out of me. That was the only oscar-desrving performance he ever gave.
    you guys want 60s-70s babes that own, I always that Stella Stevens was Ownage…for a blond anyway. tough cookie.
    She was in Ballad of Cable Hogue…and she was in many bad films which featured her rack.

  290. frankbooth says:

    Vanishing Point conveys speed better than any other film I’ve ever seen, including Mad Max and Road Warrior. There are no rear-screen shots, and you never catch any undercranking.
    I always thought Selleck came across as stereotypically gay, too. It’s the moustache and the unexpectedly high voice. And those flowered shirts, though I know they’re the norm in Hawaii.
    I am afraid. Not sure if I can do it.
    What was that noise?

  291. Lota says:

    No noise Frank, just whispering in your ductwork and ventilation, behind the walls, in the fireplace.
    “Frrrraaaannnk…Fffrrraaaaaankkk…come with ussss….Ffrrraaaank…we want youoooo….”
    It’s just whispering see?
    But if you see any screws from your ventilation unscrewing from the inside, and the screws pop out one at a time…be prepared for a 2 foot high raisnet. Or five of them. They want you.

  292. frankbooth says:

    I need a drink. Where’s my bourbon!?
    Oops, just shot a hole in the baseboard.
    This is going to backfire on you, Lota. Good luck sleeping tonight.

  293. lawnorder says:

    LexG – I don’t know if you subscribe to MGM HD Channel, but GATOR is playing in HD and in its original aspect ratio today and probably a few time this month.

  294. frankbooth says:

    Nice essay, Joe. Is “engagingly androgynous” a veiled reference to a certain persistent myth about Jamie Lee?
    I honestly had no idea Paul Rudd was supposed to be a grown-up Tommy Doyle. You learn something useless every day.
    I always wanted to see a scene in one of the later films in which a tired, downcast Loomis shuffles into a bar. He mumbles something under his breath.
    Loomis plops onto a barstool.
    …coming. He’s coming. Gin and tonic, please.
    Sure thing. Who’s coming?
    Evil. (stifles a yawn) His eyes…so black…no humanity. Peanuts?
    The bartender sets down Loomis’s drink and a bowl, opens a bag of salted peanuts.
    The bartender looks up, alarmed.
    LOOMIS (cont’d)
    Yeah, that would be him. Suppose I’d better drink up and get out there. But first, let me tell you how I got this scar…

  295. Joe Leydon says:

    Frank: Not trying to be suggestive. But I would say that, based on conversations I have had with gay, striaght and flexible women over the years — I hit the mark here.

  296. Lota says:

    forgot to say earlier.
    Jacques Becker is one of the owning-est directors ever. Watch all, and worship. The move on to Julien Duvivier for portrayal of tough guys who rule. Johnnie To for tough and funny guys/gals who rule (own). Takeshi Kitano owns at any age…recommend Sonatine to start.

  297. frankbooth says:

    Know Kitano well, own Sonatine. Present from Dorothy. She loved his stuff as soon as I introduced her to it, which is another reason I knew she was a keeper.
    More Becker is definitely on the menu. To’s name keeps popping up, guess I’d better check him out.
    Joe, you never told us how you felt about white -trash-stripper-mom-nine–foot-tall-Michael-Halloween.
    Getting back to the Seventies, something possessed me to rent Towering Inferno. We fell asleep after about 20 minutes, but are gonna bravely face the rest today.
    I thought it would be fun. Supposed to be among the best of that genre (and yes, I know that’s not saying much.) But jeez…flat Love Boat lighting, equally flat performances, dialogue like “you must have an edifice complex,” odd dead air with the actors staring at each other as if the scenes weren’t yet fully edited…and it’s two and three-quarters of an hour long!
    Maybe I misunderstood the designation “disaster movie.” Hope it gets better once the screaming starts.

  298. frankbooth says:

    Oh, and Joe — I was talking about a very specific rumor about Curtis regarding a choice involving surgery that her parents allegedly had to make early in her existence, rather than about her appeal across a wide swath of the population. Are we still in accord?

  299. Lota says:

    I like all of To, but this is a great cop drama…with a “Heat”-like comraderie.
    Am Zin (Running out of time)
    and comedy
    My Left eye sees ghosts
    To is probably one of the few cop/thriller directors who can also do romantic scenes well.
    Dorothy will like those selections.

  300. Joe Leydon says:

    Frankbooth: Gosh, I had forgotten all about that rumor. No, actually, I wasn’t referencing that. Actually, I think I originally referred to JLC as adrogynous as far back as my first review of the first Halloween.
    And like I said: I’ve been amused to note how often women of all sexual persuasions have told me over the years how hot they think JLC is. Yes, even now.

  301. Joe Leydon says:

    Lota: Never saw the remake. Actively avoided it, actually.

  302. frankbooth says:

    Thanks! I’ll check those out. It’s such a shame we have to do things other than watch movies. One day we’ll have Blu-Ray players in our heads, and life will be splendid.
    You were alive when the first Halloween came out? They put the color in later, for DVD, right? I mean, there’s no way they had color film back then.
    “Never saw the remake. Actively avoided it, actually.”
    So you’re not excited about the Friday the Thirteenth remake? C’mon, there’s a lot of fertile thematic ground that was never explored, and I’m sure Marcus Nispel is just the man to do it.

  303. Lota says:

    forgot about some other good 1970s TV movies–reruns my parents luckily taped and I saw later.
    Flesh & blood…oooh seedy Suzanne Pleshette sleeping with her son Tom Berenger. when Berenger was really really cute.
    The Cay…James earl Jones in the parable on bigotry
    Jericho Mile…the wonderful Michael Mann…very early work of his
    I remember a magnificent scene where the other prisoners walk by Peter Strauss’ table and give him their food. Cool. I wish Peter Strauss had a bigger career. Loved him.
    Frank, I can’t fit a blu-ray player in my head. I already have a lounge singer, demons and “little friends”, i don;t have any more room up there.

  304. Lota says:

    by the way Mann fans who have not seen Jericho Mile–it is on VHS.
    He did that on a limited budget and it clearly showed his future greatness. Probably the only movie of its time that showed realistic prison dynamics/social structure. Great stuff.

  305. LexG says:

    JERICHO MILE is indeed very good; Saw it on VHS way back in the day, but one of the ESPN channels, of all places, shows it with some regularity. Mann definitely knows the prison milieu — even though it’s a TVM and ostensibly about this runner, all the details and authenticity are as legit as they later were in HEAT and THIEF.
    The guy definitely does his due dilligence with that kind of stuff. Even though it’s not entirely as cinematic as his later theatrical work or Miami Vice, he still does some framing tricks and plays with light (especially the color white) in ways that he’d later expand on his big movies.

  306. frankbooth says:

    It’s okay, Lota. I have a lady in my radiator.

  307. Joe Leydon says:

    Frankbooth: Actually, there was color when the first Halloween was released. But we did have to watch it on kerosene-powered projectors.
    But seriously: Talking about colorization reminds me: Does anybody do that anymore? I mean, seriously: Wasn’t this a mid-1990s gimmick that, with all due respect to Ted Turner, went absolutely nowhere? Or am I missing something in the homevid market?

  308. yancyskancy says:

    I think those recent Shirley Temple DVD sets contained both the original and colorized versions. Not sure when the colorization was actually done though.
    I still surf past a colorized “Angel and the Badman” occasionally. Some people are so frickin’ stupid about rejecting B&W on “principle.”

  309. Cadavra says:

    Yup, they still do. FORBDDEN ZONE was just colorized, but in that case the director himself had it done because he had wanted to make it in color originally.
    And of course, the Ray Harryhausen movies from the mid-50s–again, with his blessings.

  310. christian says:

    Harryhausen is a god and I prefer the stark b&w of 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH, especially in the noir-like barn attack, probably one of Ray’s scariest scenes.

  311. frankbooth says:

    Confession time: I saw Halloween when it was first released. I believe I was in Jr. High, and it scared the creamed corn out of me. So I’m poking fun of me as much as you, Joe — but mainly at those kids who call anything made before Jurrasic Park “old.”
    I though the colorization craze was a bit earlier, sometime in the Eighties, but maybe I’m wrong. As a controversy, it does seem to have vanished. Now the issue is artists tampering with their old work or, as Cadavra said, approving of said tampering by a third party.
    This is a sticky one. It’s their work, right? But some of them seem to have gone insane, so maybe they need to be protected from themselves.

  312. Lota says:

    “scared the creamed corn” out of you Frank?
    shoot. You sure you were in jr. high and not in yer first nursing home Frank? That somethin’ my Grammy would have said may she RIP.
    Did anyone see Billy Ray Cyrus’ narrated special on the snake-dancing god-fearin mountain Christians on History Channel?
    “Hillbilly: The real story”
    I watched it because I heard they covered Matewan–I wanted to see their section on the Matewan battle and the trade union organizing. It wasn;t bad on that and I recommend it. John Sayles was of course ROmantic with it (MATEWAN…hope you have seen it Hotblog readers), but it was done well.
    But you do have to watch Pentecostals dancing with rattlers. And drag-racing Georgia good-ol-boys. That’s where I switched it off, I have no time for Rebby boys.
    And tolerate Billy Ray using big words like “godfearin” and “hell-raisin”
    You can watch it Frank since no one sings “In Dreams” so it shouldn’t upset your routine! : )
    I don;t know if they talked about the rednecks in Lumberton NC, however. You should complain if Billy Ray done left y’all out.

  313. Lota says:

    actually I got talked into watching the rest of it. It isn;t too Rebby boy…and if you are interested in the history of stock-car racing you’d find it interesting and fortunately no sign of achy breaky heart.
    Might be good research for a movie.

  314. leahnz says:

    same here, frankbooth, i was thirteen when ‘halloween’ was released and it scared the living crap out of me! i just wanted to add that for my money, carpenter’s original musical score for ‘halloween’ is the most effective and haunting of any scary movie ever (i hear those notes in my head and the fear unfolds in my chest), the film wouldn’t be as iconic without carpenter’s brilliant music. i can’t think of another scary movie in which the score is so pivotal and evokes the same fear response; perhaps ‘the shining’ or ‘the exorcist’ to some degree, but carpenter’s notes take the cake for me

  315. frankbooth says:

    “Scared the creamed corn out of me” is a commonly used colloquialism in certain parts of the country, like the Southeast corner of my hall closet.
    Leah, I absoutely agree about the music. I get a thrill down my spine when the piano comes in, every time. Carpenter’s early scores were great — Assualt on Precinct Thirteen is another favorite of mine.
    But I have to confess to being just a teeny bit less impressed after I heard Goblin’s score for Argento’s Profundo Rosso. Have you seen it the movie? The influence is hard to deny.

  316. L.B. says:

    Colorization was a late 80s controversy. I think it reached its height around 86 or 87. I remember the news reports with Turner’s guys saying “We do exacting research and get it the way it really was” and up would pop a colorized Frank Sinatra with brown eyes. It just sort of faded away as a hot topic. I think the DVD drive to put restored versions of classics on the market helped. Once they discovered there was a market in not screwing around with something that was fine in the first place.
    I’ll throw in ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK’s main theme as a favorite Carpenter piece. Always makes me happy. And I enjoy Morricone-as-Carpenter’s themes in THE THING. The HALLOWEEN II score is a nice subtle improvement on the original, too. But, yeah, as much as he gets derided for his simplicity, his scores had a way of getting right down to business and making the whole work. Even his PRINCE OF DARKNESS score scares the (fill in preferred canned vegetable here) out of me on a dark drive through New Mexico one night.

  317. Lota says:

    makes one realize that the 80s were really superb for alot of science-fiction-fantasy-thriller movies–somebody’s already said it.
    Empire strikes back, ET, escape from NY, time bandits, repo man, outland (forgot about that one), etc and all of Cronenberg’s stuff (Videodrome, the fly, dead ringers), tron…et al.

  318. frankbooth says:

    It is funny how Morricone, who probably didn’t come cheap, delivered a score that sounded just like one of Carpenter’s. So it’s not just me.
    Not to slander Morricone, but sometimes I wonder if he turned in substandard work and Carpenter said “screw it — I’ll whip something up myself,” and they swept it under the rug. It would be oddly fitting as an echo of the Hawks/Nyby controversy.
    Love the result, in any case.

  319. jeffmcm says:

    For what it’s worth, the score in The Thing sounds a lot like what Morricone did for The Untouchables a few years later, not to mention several Italian thrillers from the 70s.

  320. LexG says:

    I don’t own the OST, but isn’t it true that the film itself mostly uses the six-note synth riff that sounds especially Carpenterish, but Morricone actually composed a shitload more music that’s more experimental?
    Seems the end credits riffs and some of the samples I’ve heard from the soundtrack are full of Morricone’s quirky accordian/musette noodling and much less Carpentery.

  321. L.B. says:

    I think it ends up being an interesting mix. The title theme is very Carpenter, but some of the other themes (particularly “Humanity”) have more of a Morricone feel. I always thought it was a matter of pleasing the director. Like Carpenter eventually said, “Ennio, if this doesn’t have a synth pulse in it somewhere I won’t know who directed the movie.”
    I love the result, too. It feels like a Carpenter score without the repetition and verge-toward-cheese that his scores tend to have. (Not that that’s wrong under the right circumstances.)
    I wish Bill Lancaster had gotten some more scripts produced. He had a gift for profanity-laced gems.
    Not to derail the unofficial 70s thread, but the 80s had a good run, Lota. And ’82 was a particularly fertile year.

  322. The Big Perm says:

    I’m sure Carpenter told Morricone to deliver something low key like one of his own scores, just not cheesy and for an orchestra. It was an orchestra soundtrack, wasn’t it? Been awhile since I’ve seen that flick.
    I love Carpenter’s music. They’re simple, but a lot of times the simplest scores are the best…witness Jaws or Psycho.
    What Carpenter should NOT do is write rock songs to end his movies. That song at the end of Big Trouble is Little China is just sort of emabrrassing.

  323. christian says:

    I was pissed at Ebert for thrashing THE THING when it opened in 82. But I blame the BO failure on two things: the summer release (shoulda been fall) and one of the most awful genre posters in the history of…the genre. Go feast upon the image of a guy in a parka with a comic book glow coming from the face. Oooo kids, now that’s scary.
    It seems like Universal sabotaged the film by replacing the absolutely killer original ad (which I have in an issue of HEAVY METAL) showing the words THE THING in cracked ice with the brilliant tag, “Man is the warmest place to hide.” Replaced by “The Ultimate in Alien Terror.”
    And for the record, I was a listed finalist in Fangoria’s Draw The Thing contest. Still have my button. The issue’s cover story? EVIL DEAD baby. Ah, the 80’s…

  324. christian says:

    “That song at the end of Big Trouble is Little China is just sort of emabrrassing.”
    Sonofabitch must pay!
    “We gotta run, run into the mystic night!”

  325. frankbooth says:

    Awww, the ad wasn’t THAT bad. I kinda dig it, but maybe that’s just nostalgia.
    I do remember the other one, though, and it was definitely better.
    That was a classic case of bad timing. Audiences just weren’t ready.
    Link, Christian? Is the drawing posted on your blog somewhere?

  326. christian says:

    Frankbooth, go look at that poster right now. Brotha, it is bad with a capital B.
    And sadly, I never made a copy of the drawing and Fango didn’t use it in the article. But my name is there. The first THING I ever won…Get it?

  327. The Big Perm says:

    Damn, if only there were any cool cult horror movies being made now. They’re all too slick or way too low budget and sloppy, and all of them are so self-aware. There could probably never be another Evil Dead style of movie. Or, could there…?
    There should be a list of words used in every bad 80s rock ballad. I got “night,” “survive,” and “fight.”
    Like so…
    “You gotta fight! For what is right!
    You gotta survive, into the niiiight!”

  328. christian says:


  329. jeffmcm says:

    All the good horror movies right now are being made in Japan or Europe. American indie horror is in a pretty steep crevasse, as it were.

  330. Cadavra says:

    Oh, yeah? Just wait until (cue drumroll and eyerolls) THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN!!!

  331. Lota says:

    a few decent creepies Europe Jeff, mostly Asia.
    bring back atmospheric horror (no slashing or CGI needed) and mullets. and mullet afros. and no implants allowed…you either have a rack or you don’t. Be proud.
    I liked it when boys had their hair longer. I hate the buzz cut.
    So I guess I want to see an atmospheric psychological horror movie with males in mullets and no silicon.

  332. jeffmcm says:

    Cadavra, when? And whatever happened to Screaming Forehead?

  333. frankbooth says:

    Okay, it’s bad. I suppose I’m just used to it. At least it’s spoiler-free. Maybe that was the problem, because it in no way prepared the audience for how gooey the actual film was.
    Having a hard time finding a pic of the other one on Google…hey, maybe it’s on the DVD gallery.
    Now I wanna watch it again. I have some time off from Frankboothing (gotta lay low occasionally). Maybe I’ll watch The Thing, Aliens and The Fly all in one day. Wonder if I’ll grow pulsating air-bladders and start oozing K-Y. That would be cool, Beavis.
    Is J-horror still going strong? I had the idea that it peaked with Kiyoshi Kurasawa’s best stuff, which is good indeed; Pulse and Cure are two of the creepiest, most disturbing films I’ve ever seen. But I haven’t been keeping up. Titles, please.
    “So I guess I want to see an atmospheric psychological horror movie with males in mullets and no silicon.”
    Right. Um, The Lost Boys? Though it’s not exactly psychological, or atmospheric, or really even horror, for that matter. But it has mullets!
    I hope Cadavra 2 is more tasteful than the first one. It really went too far, in my opinion.
    Big Perm, I was gonna try to add to that and realized that I couldn’t. You’ve pretty much got the perfect power ballad encapsulated right there.
    Christ, what an awful time that was. Good thing I had The Butthole Surfers, Husker Du, Tom Waits and Robyn Hitchcock to get me through it.

  334. frankbooth says:

    Nope, no poster gallery on the DVD. I did get sucked into watching big chunks of it with the commentary on, though. Your fault, Christian!

  335. Cadavra says:

    Sony contractually has first and last look at SKELETON RETURNS. Should know something very soon.
    FOREHEAD was “reworked” (that’s the polite term) by its executive producer, who’s still trying to find a distributor.

  336. jeffmcm says:

    I remember hearing you tell the Forehead story (discreetly) at the premiere at the Egyptian, sounds like it never went the way you wanted it to, but glad to hear that Skeleton 2 is on its way, big fan here. I won’t use the o-word, but you know what I mean.

  337. Lota says:

    haven’t seen Lost Boys in a while. I do like Kiefer alot…so it’s possibly an option. Men of the blog…grow out your hair. Mullets aren’t just for lesbians and Spanish soccer players.
    I saw the Surfers. I don’t call them by their full name…too embarrassing.
    There’s still some good Asian horror, maybe not as much as the 2000-2002 period. You may have seen some of these partly or mostly made by Japanese Co. or directors/producers.
    Desu n

  338. Lota says:

    Haiku: Ode to the Ratner thread
    Ratner inspired thread
    more great news for Paramount
    343 replies

  339. frankbooth says:

    Thanks, Lota! That will keep me busy for quite a while. You know your stuff, all right.
    Your haiku bends the rules a bit (three four three?), but I like it anyway.

  340. frankbooth says:

    And with that, I pronounce this thread officially dead. RIP, amen, here’s to your fuck.

  341. Joe Leydon says:

    No! No! This thread must LIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  342. frankbooth says:

    Oh sure, now you show up. You’re late, Lone Ranger.

  343. frankbooth says:

    You had to make a living? Why, of all the lame excuses…
    Didn’t know Variety reviewed Bollywood stuff. Crazy, mang.

  344. Joe Leydon says:

    Variety is international, my friend. Which is why, despite all of David’s digs, Variety achieves TOTAL OWNAGE. Hollywood Reporter must BOW DOWN. Variety reviews are the REVIEWS OF RECORD.
    Of course, it helps when the movies open in my backyard… And it helps when Leonard Klady points out how damn much Bollywood movies earn in the US. (Last weekend, Singh is Kinng made three times as much as Brideshead Revisited in North America, despite being in a third as many theaters.)

  345. frankbooth says:

    For God’s sake, why did you click on this? You’ve brought the Ratner thread back to life!!!

  346. LexG says:

    If it’s indeed back to life, Joe, scoot, movieman, ANYBODY….
    What in the HELL is the deal with SOME KIND OF HERO? That just hit DVD for the first time, and I hadn’t seen it since maybe 1984, so all I remembered was the HI-larity of Pryor’s squirtgun going off in his pants as he attempts to hold up a bank.
    Anyway, what a weird flick that is, something they’d NEVER make today, though probably for good reason. While not exactly BLUE COLLAR, it features some fairly intense dramatic moments for Pryor, but such a sloppy, dreary, unpleasant, weird movie. Starts out as a POW movie, then a coming-home drama, veers off into woeful comedy shtick, then ends as some half-assed crime movie with Rich pulling some scam with mobsters and treasury notes, ending with some forced “happy” ending that would surely follow with Pryor and Kidder getting promptly whacked about four minutes later.

  347. Joe Leydon says:

    LexG: People could make movies like that back then. And expect them to get released by major studios.

  348. frankbooth says:

    Hey Christian, look what else I found:
    Better late than never. And you’re right, it is a better poster. Check out some of the ones for foreign markets.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon