Friday, October 22, 2010

I am Sam

Mark Robson, known to some as "Sam Fuller," talks with his star Lee Marvin on the set of Avalanche Express.

He can now kill you a thousand different ways...

I had no idea the original Mechanic one-sheet was so iconic that the remake producers would ape it so thoroughly for their teaser one-sheet. Man, Arthur Bishop sure has come up with more methods of killing since 1972...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Joe Don takes direction

"You packin' heat, Joe Don?"

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Truck Driver

A February 14, 1971 Los Angeles Times production report of Vernon Zimmerman's Deadhead Miles starring Alan Arkin, written by Terrence Malick, and produced by Tony Bill.

Following long haul trucker Arkin across the country, the film features an interesting array of old Hollywood hands including Ida Lupino, George Raft (who starred in classic trucker entry They Drive By Night), and Bruce Bennett. Other familiar faces in the cast are Paul Benedict, Charles Durning, Hector Elizondo, Loretta Swit, Richard Kiel, John Milius, Allan Garfield,Barnard Hughes, and Avery Schreiber.

Originally slated for a 1972 release by Paramount, the film was shelved save for several film festival appearances in the 1970s and '80s, where it was already proclaimed a "missing movie" by programmers and journalists. My copy comes from an A&E broadcast from the late '80s or early '90s.

From an L.A. Times report on the La Jolla Film Festival in 1980,
which included a rare screening of Deadhead Miles.

According to a 1985 L.A. Times article on the Filmex festival that year, of which Deadhead Miles was a part of, the film was deemed "unreleasable" by the studio upon its completion. Perhaps Paramount will license the film to Olive Films who have recently scheduled a wave of previously unseen, on DVD, Paramount titles, many from the late '60s-'70s.

EDIT: The film is now available via Netflix Streaming.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dealin' in '81-'82

1981 was a little kinder to Avco Embassy than '82, despite the presence of Vice Squad and Time Bandits.

This makes it readily apparent that the end was near for Filmways:

If they'd been able to hold on to some more of these, history might have been a little different:

Quite a banner year that Universal had for itself in '81-'82. Not all of these are classics, but there are only a few duds (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas stands out in this regard) or completely forgotten films (Green Ice; Evil Under the Sun). Most of the non-classics are cult items today and / or boast notable directors.

I'd say Columbia went 3 for 5 in the Summer of '81:

Monday, August 2, 2010

"I've seen your smile in a thousand dreams."

I sure do wish we'd seen more of "fem lead" Lois Chiles in the movies. Audiences might also remember her for a later turn as a hit and run driver haunted by her victim's corpse in Creepshow 2..."Thanks for the ride, lady!"

Back in the saddle!

This announcement is interesting because it still credits original director Philip Kaufman, who was fired and replaced by Clint early in production. Also, Clint is clean-shaven here whereas he wears a beard throughout the finished film.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"He aims to please."

Cliff MacMillan of Shout! Factory confirms that his company will be releasing the long-misunderstood Ralph Bakshi film Coonskin (aka Street Fight) to DVD (possibly Blu?) so we can finally say goodbye to those distasteful gray-market DVDs that crop up even on sites like Amazon. The DVD will have a reversible cover with the less controversial video title Street Fight on one side and the original Coonskin on the other. The onscreen title will be Coonskin, as it appeared on original prints.

I used to have the half-sheet version of this poster, but it was sadly ruined in an apartment flood. The artwork is reminiscent of the below key art and reminds me that I need to pick up the recent Warner Archive release:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"...who wrote songs and was shot."

Joe Hill came up in the comments section of an article on Olive Films' upcoming Paramount-licensed DVDs at Dave Kehr's site. I remembered I had an ad for this on my hard drive and now I really want to see it. I like the use of red, white, and blue in this poster in light of Mr. Hill's Swedish roots and labor activism (which his critics would use to deem him "un-American") and subsequent execution for a murder that evidence suggests he had no part in.
Joan Baez sings "Joe Hill" at Woodstock:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Prince Redux

When I watch shows like The Wire and The Shield, both of which I count as all-time favorites, I see Sidney Lumet, Jay Presson Allen, and Robert Daley's fingerprints all over them.

"River Deep - Mountain High"

After seeing an amazing clip of Tina performing (with Ike) "River Deep - Mountain High" in the superb new Phil Spector doc, I must track down this Soul To Soul:How fantastic is it that Tina's "top" was deemed family-friendly enough to get the much sought-after G rating?:

Redford's Loose

Just got done with the handsome Criterion Downhill Racer package, part of my Barnes & Noble "50% Off Criterion Sale" bounty (total price for Racer: $9.10 after tax). There's really no other time to buy Criterions except during these sales.

You'll be hard-pressed to find a big time Hollywood star portray a bigger jerk than Redford's Dave Chappellet of Racer. It's one of many fascinating aspects of this character study told with refreshingly little sentimentality and "rah-rah" short, another gem from the late '60s - early '70s. It was an impressive and brave move on the part of Redford to play such a heel, coming off one of his biggest popular successes in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In the meantime, he also managed to act in Tell Them Willie Boy is Here, completing a trio of 1969 films that earned him a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. I dare say that the two lesser known films of Redford's '69 look better in hindsight than Butch and Sundance.

Anyway, I don't have any materials from Racer in my collection, but here are some choice promo stills from the release of the second Redford and Michael Ritchie collaboration, The Candidate:
Lock up your daughters, folks!

A faux McKay campaign office set up across the street from the Sutton Theatre where the film premiered. Read through the comments on the link above to learn about the sad fate of the Sutton, one of many historic New York theaters to be demolished in favor of a shiny glass condominium.

Toback (in beard)

Monday, July 26, 2010

"The only adult she admires is Johnny Rotten."

The Film Society of Lincoln Center has some pretty special screenings planned this summer and I'm particularly excited about the Dennis Hopper tribute coming up, which includes the rare double bill of American Dreamer, the doc on Hopper directed by L.M. Kit Carson & Lawrence Schiller, and Hopper's own Out of the Blue starring Hopper and the inimitable Linda Manz.

Perhaps the best part about these screenings will be the in-person appearances by Carson, Schiller, and Manz. Personally, I viewed The Wanderers and Out of the Blue many times in my teens and early 20s and am really looking forward to hearing Manz speak about her experiences making such exceptional films in so short a period of time. Her other major starring role in this period was, of course, Days of Heaven--quite an impressive troika for a career let alone three years. She's been out of the spotlight since making a mini-comeback in the late '90s with Gummo (not a favorite of mine) and The Game. Out of the Blue is easily her most fully-realized and most searing performance. It's a tough, angry, and dark film that's not for the faint of heart and Manz goes to all those very dark places as CeBe, a teenage girl whose tragic circumstances have built up more pain and rage inside her than any person should have to withstand.

Apparently, she made a few extra bucks during the filming of Gummo by selling her Elvis jacket from Out of the Blue to Chloe Sevigny. I wonder what happened to her even cooler Baldies jacket from The Wanderers:

I had this one-sheet on my college bedroom wall for a long time:

Years later, I was watching a documentary on the Minutemen and one of the interview subjects (Dave Markey) had the poster on his wall in the background.

Now Playing: September 3, 1982

Can you imagine movies like Chan is Missing and Gregory's Girl enjoying their "4th Big Month" in August 2010?

I've posted from this set before, but I suppose based on some of the comments, I should offer a reprise:

"I could never hate you, Danny."

When it premiered on network television on May 29 and 30 1984, Prince of the City was shown in 2 2-hour segments, including footage that was not part of the 1981 theatrical cut. I'd love to see this material, but, of course, it was not included on the rather thin "Special Edition" DVD from a few years back. Anyone seen a torrent of this television cut show up on one of those shadowy sites that shall go unnamed here--because I don't know the names of them?:

The above still mis-identifies Tony Page as Richard Foronjy.

"Hips or lips?"

I would have preferred if the DVD had retained the original key art as displayed in this ad from the Directors' Fortnight catalog in '07:

"You're the new barn boss, O'Brien!"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ashby MIA

This one is now controlled by Warner Bros. so an Archive release is a distinct possibility. Will it be released as Second Hand Hearts or under its original, infinitely more commercial title The Hamster of Happiness? Either way, I'm very curious to see this obscure piece from the last act of Ashby's career.

Producer James Guercio, often credited as James William Guercio, is the producer and director of the cult classic Electra Glide in Blue also starring Robert Blake. Guercio, of course, is most well known for his '70s-era record label and recording studio (Caribou) and being the original producer and manager of Chicago. He's now a large-scale developer and cattle rancher with interests in oil and gas exploration.

Now Playing: May 16, 1973