Sunday, March 31, 2013

Trailer Not on the DVD: Homeboy (1988, Michael Seresin)

Before he was The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke was the title character in Homeboy, a little-seen boxing drama from the first part of Rourke's acting career, before he embarked on a sojourn in the real world of professional boxing.  I haven't seen this myself, but I recall eyeing the VHS cover many times in rental shops in the '80s and Moon in the Gutter's Jeremy Richey wrote glowingly of it a few years back.

Aside from having some pretty swell foreign poster designs, which you can see here, Homeboy is noteworthy in that Rourke wrote the script and actually discussed the project, years earlier, with co-star Christopher Walken when the two were working together on Heaven's Gate.  Rourke's then-wife Debra Feuer (seen earlier in To Live and Die in L.A. as Willem Dafoe's girlfriend) has the female lead.  It is the lone directorial effort for Michael Seresin, known primarily as the cinematographer on the majority of Alan Parker's films.  Homeboy is set on the dilapidated boardwalk and streets of Asbury Park, a location Rourke would return to some 20 years later for The Wrestler.  Music is by Eric Clapton and the late Michael Kamen, which the attached trailer crows about (Clapton, not Kamen). Kamen and Clapton would also share credit on the celebrated BBC serial Edge of Darkness and the Lethal Weapon films.

It has come out on DVD, but this trailer, which I suspect is a video trailer, is not on it.  The film was not granted a theatrical release in the U.S., at least not a wide one so far as I can tell, so this may be it as far as U.S. trailers go.

Homeboy was produced by Elliott Kastner, who earlier collaborated with Rourke and Seresin on Angel Heart.  Kastner passed away in 2010 and his name graces many of my favorite films of the '60s, '70s, and '80s, most of them offbeat and unsung to one degree or another. When he died, Bob Cashill recalled a Variety article with a title like "Kastner: 21 Films, 21 Flops," and obituaries noted that he treated both failures and successes with good humor.  Anyway, it seems to me that Kastner's oeuvre is due a little re-appraisal and celebration.  

Trailer Not on the DVD: Sharky's Machine (1981, Burt Reynolds)

Not only do we still not have a decent, widescreen DVD or Blu-ray of Burt Reynolds' Sharky's Machine in this hemisphere, we also don't have this very effective theatrical trailer on the mediocre DVD we do have.

Or, these TV spots:

Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Goodbye to the pavement, hello to my soul!"

I only just got a good look at that new Mad Men poster today--it's been up for a couple weeks--and as a fan of Heaven 17's Penthouse and Pavement, I appreciated the homage.  The drawing style certainly pre-dates the Heaven 17 LP (1981), as does Mad Men's period setting (late '60s), so it would probably be accurate to assume that the Mad Men marketing team is looking at other visual sources, in addition to Penthouse and Pavement.

Since I'm also a big fan of Night Shift, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Penthouse and Pavement's title song's appearance on that 1982 soundtrack.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Who knew...

...that one of my favorite, little-mentioned character players actually cut a folk record for Verve in '67?  Found this recently for $3 in stellar condition, but haven't given it a listen yet.

Born Myron KellinMike Kellin was active on stage and screen from the '50s thru the early '80s and died prematurely at 61 due to lung cancer.  This probably contributes to his relative obscurity these days, which is unfortunate because his is one of those great faces and voices that always makes me light up at the start of a film when I see his name in the credits.

His scenes with Brad Davis in Midnight Express always put a lump in my throat, particularly when he tries to diffuse the tension and seriousness of the situation by talking about the stomach problems he encountered upon eating the local cuisine. "I'm gonna eat at the Hilton every night: Steak, French fries, and lots of ketchup."  More recently, Kellin impressed me as part of the ensemble in The Incident, even though I found the film stage-bound, melodramatic, and increasingly unconvincing.  But, as the henpecked husband of Jan Sterling, Kellin stands out as one of a few performers in the cast who doesn't chew up the scenery.

Given his moving performance as Billy Hayes' heartbroken father in Midnight Express and roles in Raphael Silver's prison drama On the Yard and the stage version of Stalag 17, it's heartening to see that he was a member of the Fortune Society, a prisoners' rights group.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Movie Love We've Come to Expect

This poster features a dead body in a pose similar to the one seen on the Goodfellas one-sheet.  The body on this poster was cut and pasted onto the cover of a German Blu-ray of Mean Streets that I wrote about here.  Not sure whose face they stuck in there to represent Johnny Boy, but it ain't De Niro.
Was looking at Mean Streets for the first time in a long while and took note of some in-movie film references that I hadn't recalled.  In addition, to the clips from The SearchersThe Big Heat, and Tomb of Ligeia seen at various points on various screens during the course of the film, there's also a cool shot of the Waverly from the vantage point of a cab.  The marquee boasts Sylvia Miles in Warhol's Heat.  No love for Joe...or, no room on the marquee?

When Charlie goes to The Searchers with Michael and Tony, we see the below shot of marquees on 42nd Street.  Some of the movies that can be made out are: Rage, Borsalino, Rider on the Rain, Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came?, And Hope to Die, Rosebud (Roberta Findlay's, not the Preminger film of the same name), Eighteen Carat Virgin (aka Without a Stitch), and The Arrangement.  

In an inspired bit of programming, Rene Clement's Rider on the Rain and And Hope to Die are on the same marquee.  Rider was Avco Embassy from '70 and And Hope to Die was Fox from '72.  He made The Deadly Trap (for National General) in between those two.

Later, Johnny Boy and Charlie are in a theater lobby after seeing Tomb of Ligeia, where we can see posters for Tomb, The Man With the X-Ray Eyes, Point Blank, and Husbands.

I like that in this one film we get such a cross section of contemporary and classic films references, including Scorsese favorite Kazan, albeit probably incidentally.

For the others that get bothered about these things, the WB Blu-ray of Mean Streets removes the original Saul Bass-designed Warner Communications logo in favor of the current WB logo.  Adding further insult, Charlie's opening v.o. begins while the new logo is still onscreen.  Previously, the logo went to black and then Charlie's voice was heard.  The previous WB DVD retained the original, it stays on my shelf even though space is at a premium.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Burt Goes to Whole Foods

What I discovered on my quest to find a location from Shamus, is as sure a sign as any that gentrification is inevitable just about everywhere, no matter the aesthetic qualities of the place, or lack thereof.  In Shamus, Burt Reynolds goes to Gowanus (an industrial section of Brooklyn named for the body of water that cuts through it) to investigate a warehouse owned by the film's villains.  Using Google Maps, I found the exact location, one which I've actually driven and walked by countless times over the years.  The warehouse that Burt breaks into has been demolished (when, I'm not certain) and is now a construction site where a Whole Foods (the first in the whole of Brooklyn, somewhat amazingly) is going up.  They'll never make Gowanus pretty, but if the mob scenes around Trader Joe's and other Whole Foods outposts in NYC are any indication, it will now be a destination.

Shamus is nothing special as a film, but it is one of the few films of its period to shoot in this part of Brooklyn and, of particular importance, provides visual documentation of a place that is on its way to permanently changing in appearance and character, something that could probably be said for just about any spot in this city.

Former college football star Burt Reynolds, as Shamus, displays his physical gifts, leaping away from pursuers after breaking into a warehouse (seen in the background) that would eventually give way to a Whole Foods Market.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

John. Heard.

This post has been prompted by the completely surprising, stealth DVD release of Chilly Scenes of Winter (paired with John Heard's other great starring picture Cutter's Way on a budget DVD), which I just discovered today doing some Google image searches.  John Heard is a highly capable character actor known to most by face, if not name, and as "the dad from Home Alone" and "the douchebag yuppie in Big."

Long before that, Heard proved he had the chops to deliver a sensational leading performance, when given the opportunity, as well as the ability to pull off the chameleonic types of role shifting normally reserved for the likes of De Niro and the son of De Niro.  In Chilly Scenes of Winter (formerly known as Head Over Heels), Heard is a Salt Lake City government worker obsessed with his former girlfriend (Mary Beth Hurt).  In his role as Charles, he is alternately funny, pathetic, annoying, sympathetic, mean, and unlikable.  As much as this is a romantic drama, with comic elements, the script allows for Heard to go to some pretty dark places and say some things that we don't normally hear leading men say.

A couple years later, in Ivan Passer's Cutter's Way (formerly known as Cutter and Bone), Heard is the conspiracy-obsessed, angry, belligerent, often vile double amputee Vietnam vet Alex Cutter. Cutter and Charles don't share much, particularly physically, but they do have a one-mindedness--an obsession--that carries them through each film and a streak of crazy (Cutter's is more overt).  It's to Heard's great credit that he pulls off both of these performances absolutely convincingly and that he has the audience's sympathy (he has mine, at least) by the end of each film, even though he does do and say some rather objectionable things.

Aside from both films starring Heard, both were released by United Artists to poor business and reviews and later re-released by UA Classics, under new titles, following demand from audiences and critics.  Chilly Scenes was a cult movie in the latter glory days of the midnight movie and repertory circuit, just before home video hit big. This is evidenced by its inclusion in Danny Peary's Cult Movies 3, as well as the picture above at the old St. Marks, showing the very John Heard double bill now available on the DVD at the top of this article. It was this vocal cult, in cities such as Boston, that prompted UA to re-edit, re-title, and re-release Head Over Heels as Chilly Scenes of Winter.  In the years since, and this is totally based on anecdotal evidence, it seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle, probably due to its prolonged absence on DVD and the fact that it's a romance without a lot of the genre trappings that go with the cookie cutter definition / stereotyping of "cult movie."

I wrote about Chilly Scenes and its lack of a DVD a few years back for Moon in the Gutter.  Now, here it is, albeit in very modest form.

Cursive / Graffiti / Scrawl Part Trois

The "C Team"?
A Team
Plan B