Author Topic: Hal Needham  (Read 2101 times)

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analogzombie

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Hal Needham
« on: January 06, 2004, 02:54:09 AM »
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This guy is respnsible for some of what i call "The Southern Glorification" movies: Hooper, Cannonball Run 1&2, Smokey and the Bandit, Stroker Ace. They all feature Burt Reynolds and are just plain fun.

anyone wanna discuss?
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eward

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Hal Needham
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2004, 08:09:56 AM »
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ive only seen smokey and the bandit and stroker ace...........stroker ace was fuckin painful to sit through tho.  but kudos to smokey and the bandit however, fun stuff.
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soixante

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Hal Needham
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2004, 01:34:31 PM »
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The Southern subgenre was flourishing before Needham came on the scene, with White Lightning, Gator, Longest Yard, Deliverance, WW & the Dixie Dancekings -- pretty much anything with Burt Reynolds and/or Ned Beatty.  There were also exploitation films set in the South -- Jackson County Jail, Macon County Line, Walking Tall, Texas Chainsaw, Cockfighter, etc.  Lots of film before the 1977 release of Smokey and the Bandit.  To me, Smokey was Southern-lite, the mainstream, homogenized version of Southern films, which led to the sitcom Dukes of Hazzard.

Back in the early 80's, Film Comment did an excellent article about this whole sub-genre.
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analogzombie

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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2004, 04:03:53 PM »
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Quote from: soixante
The Southern subgenre was flourishing before Needham came on the scene, with White Lightning, Gator, Longest Yard, Deliverance, WW & the Dixie Dancekings -- pretty much anything with Burt Reynolds and/or Ned Beatty.  There were also exploitation films set in the South -- Jackson County Jail, Macon County Line, Walking Tall, Texas Chainsaw, Cockfighter, etc.  Lots of film before the 1977 release of Smokey and the Bandit.  To me, Smokey was Southern-lite, the mainstream, homogenized version of Southern films, which led to the sitcom Dukes of Hazzard.
.


I definately agree, Iwasn't trying to say that Hal Needham originated the sub-genre, just that he was a director who flourished in it. I think my use of 'responsible for' wasn't the right way to put it.

The films of that era seem to echo a national acceptance and embracement of Southern Culture at that time. From music to film it seemed to be everywhere. Of course I wasn't alive then so i don't know for sure but it seems as such.

Whats fun about these movies is most of them completely ignore the racial undertones that seem to accompany so many movies that are set in the South or have Southern characters. I would lovw to read that article, do you know if Film Comment has online archives?

I loved Stroker Ace, it's no Days of Thunder, but a very funny movie.
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soixante

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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2004, 04:50:57 PM »
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Quote from: analogzombie
Quote from: soixante
The Southern subgenre was flourishing before Needham came on the scene, with White Lightning, Gator, Longest Yard, Deliverance, WW & the Dixie Dancekings -- pretty much anything with Burt Reynolds and/or Ned Beatty.  There were also exploitation films set in the South -- Jackson County Jail, Macon County Line, Walking Tall, Texas Chainsaw, Cockfighter, etc.  Lots of film before the 1977 release of Smokey and the Bandit.  To me, Smokey was Southern-lite, the mainstream, homogenized version of Southern films, which led to the sitcom Dukes of Hazzard.
.


I definately agree, Iwasn't trying to say that Hal Needham originated the sub-genre, just that he was a director who flourished in it. I think my use of 'responsible for' wasn't the right way to put it.

The films of that era seem to echo a national acceptance and embracement of Southern Culture at that time. From music to film it seemed to be everywhere. Of course I wasn't alive then so i don't know for sure but it seems as such.

Whats fun about these movies is most of them completely ignore the racial undertones that seem to accompany so many movies that are set in the South or have Southern characters. I would lovw to read that article, do you know if Film Comment has online archives?

I loved Stroker Ace, it's no Days of Thunder, but a very funny movie.


I think a lot of Southern films of the 70's cast a critical eye on the culture.  Deliverance and Texas Chainsaw depict the South as a backwards, dangerous place.  Nashville and Macon County Line depict corrupt institutions.  Bob Rafelson's Stay Hungry pokes fun at Alabama -- in fact, most of the actors are not from the South, such as Jeff Bridges.  Hollywood has always viewed the South as an exotic, backward place.

Needham's films took the exotic backdrop of earlier 70's Southern films but erased a lot of the political and social commentary.  The Sheriff on Bandit's tail is depicted as a harmless buffoon, not a corrupt racist (like Ned Beatty in White Lightning).

The article in Film Comment came out in the early 80's.  Not sure if they have an online archive, I doubt it.  Go to your local university library and hunt through the stacks (the analog approach to digging up info).
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analogzombie

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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2004, 12:36:24 AM »
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Quote from: soixante

Needham's films took the exotic backdrop of earlier 70's Southern films but erased a lot of the political and social commentary.  The Sheriff on Bandit's tail is depicted as a harmless buffoon, not a corrupt racist (like Ned Beatty in White Lightning).


Which is why i enjoy his films so much, even if they are very far from high art. And also why i attributed my phrase: Southern Glorification to him.  Sometimes it gets just plain exhausting to watch any film with Southern characters that has to throw in the almost required schtick of racism and bigotry and what not. It's here, for sure, but it's everywhere else as well. If you take a trip to the town that Mississippi Burning is based on it's still the same. Or Coweta Country Georgia, for example, prejudices are still there, but so too in Beaver Falls Pennsylvania. It's fun to see movies set in the South that don't automatically attempt to tackle these issues. The Screwball comdeies of Needham are enjoyable not only for this but it helps.

I grew up in a home of college graduates who value Shakespeare and Byron. But there was also the ever-present muscle cars, Skynard, pick up trucks and just about every other southern stereotype you can imagine. There aren't too many movies that treat these southern stereotypes with respect or as valid ways of life. Except of course for a slew of 70's films.
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Pwaybloe

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Hal Needham
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2004, 10:58:48 AM »
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Quote from: soixante
The Southern subgenre was flourishing before Needham came on the scene, with White Lightning, Gator, Longest Yard, Deliverance, WW & the Dixie Dancekings -- pretty much anything with Burt Reynolds and/or Ned Beatty.  There were also exploitation films set in the South -- Jackson County Jail, Macon County Line, Walking Tall, Texas Chainsaw, Cockfighter, etc.  Lots of film before the 1977 release of Smokey and the Bandit.  To me, Smokey was Southern-lite, the mainstream, homogenized version of Southern films, which led to the sitcom Dukes of Hazzard.


I'm always fascinated by your wide range of film expertise, and you are by far the most knowlegeable on this board in film history.  I wish you would post more.

Continuing the conversation, I agree with you on how odd it was that Hollywood turned to the South as a backdrop of campiness instead of political commentary.  I don't think it was an unwelcome change, though.  "Deliverance" had the worst impact on Southern perception than any other movie.

godardian

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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2004, 11:34:33 AM »
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I'm afraid I'm much more interested in your-all's erudite discussion here than I am in this subgenre itself... good show, all of you.
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analogzombie

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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2004, 11:55:57 AM »
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Quote from: Pawbloe

Continuing the conversation, I agree with you on how odd it was that Hollywood turned to the South as a backdrop of campiness instead of political commentary.  I don't think it was an unwelcome change, though.  "Deliverance" had the worst impact on Southern perception than any other movie.


I agree, I think movies give a very definate perception of the South. Southern characters are usually portrayed as eccentric or stupid, and often ignorant. I can understand the south being used for camp, it's spilling over with imagery some would call quaint. It's just inherent in the culture, but it seems that southern has come to equal stupid in many films.

Deliverance is an interesting movie b/c the main characters are sort of intelligent, business minded, outdoors types: a positive depiction of a southern character. Then they clash with an older, more stereotyped depicton of the south. Now what delieverance is about: a last hoorah in the woods before they flood a valley to create Lake Lanier, is close to accurate. what i mean is, there are pockets of people, still in North Georgia, who live very similar lives to those of the hillbillys in the movie. As far as the violent raping the movie characters engage in, well thats not what I mean. But the rural, poor lifestyle they lead, there are still people living in those conditions. And perhaps that's one reason why southern characters are often depicted in such negative light. Until very recently much of the south was still extremely rural with a lot of people living below the poverty line. Poor neighborhoods are scary and are often depicted in movies as dangerous, and violent. Coupled with the fact that the South is known for racism and you've got perfect fodder for villans and buffoons.

Then along comes Burt reynolds and gives us a buffoonish southerner we can believe in!  :wink:
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Pwaybloe

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« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2004, 12:54:10 PM »
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Quote from: analogzombie
I agree, I think movies give a very definate perception of the South. Southern characters are usually portrayed as eccentric or stupid, and often ignorant. I can understand the south being used for camp, it's spilling over with imagery some would call quaint. It's just inherent in the culture, but it seems that southern has come to equal stupid in many films.


Yeah, the imagery may be quaint, but the storytelling capacity is overwhelming.  It has mythological proportions.  "Walking Tall" is a perfect example of a mythological character study.  The character of Buford Pusser is real-to-life, but his story has been so convulted and revised, there's really no truth to be told anymore.  But he holds up as a modern American mythological creature.  He's a Paul Bunyon, a Pecos Bill, a John Henry.

Hollywood's perception of Southerners doesn't really bother me.  Sometimes they really do hit it on the head, but it's aggravating to see and hear moviegoers talk bad about the South with only the memory of stereotypical movies in mind.
 
Quote from: analogzombie
Deliverance is an interesting movie b/c the main characters are sort of intelligent, business minded, outdoors types: a positive depiction of a southern character. Then they clash with an older, more stereotyped depicton of the south. Now what delieverance is about: a last hoorah in the woods before they flood a valley to create Lake Lanier, is close to accurate. what i mean is, there are pockets of people, still in North Georgia, who live very similar lives to those of the hillbillys in the movie. As far as the violent raping the movie characters engage in, well thats not what I mean. But the rural, poor lifestyle they lead, there are still people living in those conditions. And perhaps that's one reason why southern characters are often depicted in such negative light. Until very recently much of the south was still extremely rural with a lot of people living below the poverty line. Poor neighborhoods are scary and are often depicted in movies as dangerous, and violent. Coupled with the fact that the South is known for racism and you've got perfect fodder for villans and buffoons.


Yup.  Even though I haven't experienced it, poor neighborhoods should know how to have fun, too.  Unrelated (but kind of related), look at "Friday."

godardian

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« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2004, 01:59:58 PM »
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This is all, seriously, exactly the enjoyable kind of discussion about movies for me. I may even be inspired to check out Deliverance, finally. I really like John Boorman, too... didn't he direct it? Is Cool Hand Luke considered part of this genre?
""Money doesn't come into it. It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am." - Morrissey

"Lacan stressed more and more in his work the power and organizing principle of the symbolic, understood as the networks, social, cultural, and linguistic, into which a child is born. These precede the birth of a child, which is why Lacan can say that language is there from before the actual moment of birth. It is there in the social structures which are at play in the family and, of course, in the ideals, goals, and histories of the parents. This world of language can hardly be grasped by the newborn and yet it will act on the whole of the child's existence."

Stay informed on protecting your freedom of speech and civil rights.

soixante

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« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2004, 02:05:40 PM »
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It is interesting to note that Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote Sweet Home Alabama in response to Neil Young's Southern Man.

It is also interesting to note that in 1977, a Southerner, Jimmy Carter, became President, and another fellow Georgian, Ted Turner, became one of America's most beloved tycoons, gracing the cover of Time.  I think the high public profile of both of these men helped to change the image of the South.
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soixante

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« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2004, 02:12:19 PM »
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Quote from: godardian
This is all, seriously, exactly the enjoyable kind of discussion about movies for me. I may even be inspired to check out Deliverance, finally. I really like John Boorman, too... didn't he direct it? Is Cool Hand Luke considered part of this genre?


Deliverance is one of my favorite movies, and Boorman did direct it.  It is probably the best example of the "Southern Gothic" genre but it also transcends that.  Cool Hand Luke is part of the Southern Prison subgenre, which includes Longest Yard.  The warden of Cool Hand Luke is a stereotypical good old boy sadist.  The movie is pretty corny.

I suppose the real beginning of the Southern genre was Tennessee Williams' Streetcar Named Desire, which depicted the South as an exotic, decadent place (and pitted a Yankee named Stanley Kowalski against Southern Belle Blanche Dubois in a different sort of civil war).
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analogzombie

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« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2004, 04:48:36 PM »
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Quote from: soixante
It is interesting to note that Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote Sweet Home Alabama in response to Neil Young's Southern Man.

It is also interesting to note that in 1977, a Southerner, Jimmy Carter, became President, and another fellow Georgian, Ted Turner, became one of America's most beloved tycoons, gracing the cover of Time.  I think the high public profile of both of these men helped to change the image of the South.


Very true. This is, I am sure, part of what i was refering to earlier about the 70's seeming to embrace Southern Culture.

One movie, based on a novel, that has always seemed to be an exaggeration and exploitation of Southern stereotypes is 'Tobacco Road'. Now I am from Augusta GA, where the real Tobacco Road is. But I don't think it was an exaggeration. It is a fairly accurate portrait of a small disenfranchised minority that existed as share croppers then as mill workers, who never gained any real education and were left high and dry after the bottom fell out of those two industries. In Augusta, even though the old Cotton Mill has closed down, there are people who live in, what once was, Mill Town (a neighborhood constructed for the Mill workers) and have so for generations. Another thing about 'Tobacco Road' is that it doesn't concern itself completely with negative southern characters. the banker and the people the family interact with are seen as southerners who are intelligent and aware of the world in general. although this could be seen that they have adopted the ways of the carpet-baggers, an insult hurled at them in the novel.
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