Sunday, September 23, 2012

Films Within Films: Roy Scheider

Jaws, co-starring Roy Scheider, appears in Marathon Man, co-starring Roy Scheider, by way of a movie marquee.  The theater is the long-gone Rivoli.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Striking Locations: Cranberry & Columbia Heights

For a film location enthusiast (read: nerd) like myself, living in a metropolis such as New York means I am often thrilled by the simple fact of seeing a familiar location on screen.  It's especially enlightening when said film is from a past era and when, by viewing that film, one can get a sense of how much or how little a particular spot has changed in the intervening years.

Take Hal Ashby's The Landlord, for instance, filmed primarily in a pre-gentrified, very different Park Slope, Brooklyn.  In the 40+ years since the film was made, it's gone from a low-income, African-American neighborhood to a wealthy, stroller and health food store-laden enclave.  One of the major visual differences--aside from the dilapidated condition of the buildings--which is easily spotted when watching the film is the lack of trees in 1970 Park Slope as compared to now.  The impact of a tree-lined block versus a barren one is more dramatic than I had realized.  I have lived near Park Slope for many years and spent a lot of time there and it is nearly unrecognizable to me in the film.

All that said, the shot I've got for you here is the from the final moment in the film and takes place outside of Elgar's (Beau Bridges) girlfriend's (Marki Bey) apartment, which is located on the corner of Cranberry and Columbia Heights in picturesque Brooklyn Heights, just across the street from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.  As much as Park Slope was transformed since The Landlord was made, this intersection appears to have been fairly similar in 1970, at least from this vantage point.  Although, Beau Bridges could no longer half-haphazardly leave his car running on the sidewalk due to the barriers now running the length of the road (probably installed post-9/11).

Monday, September 17, 2012

Movie Tie-In: Eyewitness

Discovered that the movie tie-in / novelization section is still intact at Montclair Book Center.  My find for the day:

I like that the cover features completely different artwork than what was ultimately used to promote the film.  The face appears to be based on William Hurt's features.  I suspect this artwork was one of several designs that was intended to promote the film itself, but was bypassed in favor of this now-familiar campaign:

Now that I have the book in my hand, I notice the billing on the poster advising viewers to look out for the "Avon Paperback."

VHS Gems at Rupert Pupkin Speaks!

Rupe was kind enough to offer me a spot in his "VHS Gems" series.  I tried to keep my list to a reasonable can check it out here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

TV Spot on the DVD: Sitting Target (1972, Douglas Hickox)

Warner Archive has unleashed a bounty of hard-boiled '70s films this week.  The most anticipated--by me, anyway--of this bunch is Douglas Hickox' Sitting Target starring the late and much-lamented (by those who didn't have to work with him) Oliver Reed.  I previously wrote about this unjustly under-seen film here.  The film has famous fans in Tarantino and Wright, which I mentioned in the previous piece, with Tarantino naming Michael Fassbender's character in Inglourious Basterds after director Hickox.

This U.S. television spot is pretty effective, not just for the bluntness of the copy, but for the forceful delivery of said copy, which sounds to be laden with a touch of Boston English.  "Sitting Tah-get.  Rated R."

EDIT: I'm told by the Warner Archive folks, via Twitter, that this television spot will appear on the DVD in lieu of a theatrical trailer, as the latter could not be located.

Friday, September 7, 2012

"Cause we got the streets, suckas!"

Somehow I missed this additional bit of Warriors-inspired graffiti, which is on the other side of the building where I found this.  That wall has since been painted over white, which has subsequently been tagged repeatedly.  For some reason, however, Cyrus hasn't been "silenced" yet.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Scum / Bad Boys

I think anyone familiar with Alan Clarke's Scum who then watches Rick Rosenthal's Bad Boys will notice some striking similarities between the two films, in narrative, thematic, and visual terms.  To me, there are enough parallels that Rosenthal and Bad Boys screenwriter Richard Di Lello (author of The Longest Cocktail Party) probably should have given some direct acknowledgment to Clarke and writer Roy Minton's film (as well as the earlier Scum teleplay that proved to be too much for the BBC).   

Bad Boys is a pretty rough film, particularly for a mainstream American product intended largely for teen audiences.  Scum, however, makes its American cousin look like a preschool picnic and is a much stronger film for it.  Where Bad Boys injects a love story into its narrative, an inspiring, incessant Bill Conti score, a Rocky-like final fight, and a theme of redemption, Scum doesn't attempt any of these softening, conventional touches.

What the American film hints at or suggests, such as male-on-male rape, Scum pulls no punches with and rubs the viewer's nose in.  There are mostly sympathetic guards and administrators in the juvenile prison where Bad Boys star Sean Penn does time; the men who run the borstal in Scum range from cold and unfeeling to unrepentant sadists.

In Bad Boys, the prison is shown to be flawed, but the film still makes it a force which turns bad boy Penn into a better man.  The borstal in Scum is a brutal, inhumane place and the film offers no hope for those inside or for some kind of reform to the system.  A few years after Scum was released, the borstal system was abandoned in the U.K.  Whether the film influenced this in any way and how truthful the film is to the actual borstal experience, I'm not certain.

I illustrate some of the parallels and contrasts of the two films in this video essay.

EDIT: I just found out about a French-Canadian remake of Scum, entitled Dog Pound, via this most informative Scum Wiki page.