Monday, March 16, 2009

American Auteurs: Robert Mulligan

Despite the continuing layoffs and resignations at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Program Director Richard Pena and his team continue to churn out solid programs.  Off the heels of the annual Rendez-Vous with French Cinema series, the Film Society will unveil a career-spanning focus on the late Robert Mulligan, a director who has rarely, if ever, been the subject of such a retrospective. Bravo!  I, for one, can't wait to view Mulligan's gritty crime story The Nickel Ride starring Jason Miller (post-Exorcist), written by Eric Roth (pre-Forrest Gump), and co-starring John Hillerman, Linda Haynes (Rolling Thunder), and Bo Hopkins.  I do not believe it has appeared on home video in this country.  Mulligan's fine adaptation of Richard Price's Bloodbrothers (not on DVD) will also be featured alongside the director's better-known works such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Summer of '42, and Baby the Rain Must Fall.  Two of his other films, Inside Daisy Clover (recently released on DVD) and Love with the Proper Stranger (not on DVD), will be included in an upcoming Natalie Wood tribute.  Read more here.  There are supposed to me three more of these "American Auteurs" installments this year at the Walter Reade and I hope they continue in the vein of overlooked figures like Mulligan.

The intriguing Nickel Ride key art (seen in the above insert), which first made me think sci-fi or horror, reminded me of some imagery I'd seen in an old issue of Heavy Metal.  Upon looking at the cover gallery, the artwork I found there was not nearly as similar as I'd thought it was. 


Big K said...

How incredibly exciting! I wish I could catch the retrospective!

I haven't seen many Mulligans, but all I've seen are brilliant. The best of the lot for me is _The Other_, a kind of obverse to _Don't Look Now_'s reverse.

I'd particularly like to see _The Nickel Ride_, which by all accounts seems to be just amazing.

Jason Miller's something of an odd figure, isn't he? He gives such a stunning and magnetic performance in _The Exorcist_ that it's almost hard to believe he didn't go on to be another De Niro. I know he wanted to focus on the theatre, but wouldn't it have been nice to see him in another half-dozen or so starring roles?

Ned Merrill said...

Thanks for your comments Big K. Yes, THE OTHER is in the Mulligan series, too. FSLC actually just played it a few months ago in a different series. I missed it then, but since it is actually on DVD, I may go that route and save the $10-$11 that a theater ticket costs.

Agreed on Jason Miller. As you say, it seems that the theater was his first love. It was in that venus that he won a Pulitzer for his play THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON. He later mounted a film version.