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.