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jenkins

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on: February 06, 2020, 02:05:20 PM
Tarantino's Reviews via New Beverly Cinema

as in he wrote them

i like them

he recently wrote one for



jenkins

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Reply #1 on: February 19, 2020, 12:50:22 PM
The John Sayles-scripted, Julie Corman-produced, Lewis Teague-directed 1978 gangster opus “Lady in Red” (aka “Touch Me and Die”) is my candidate for most ambitious film ever made at Roger Corman’s New World Pictures. Not only do I think this thirties era epic about Polly Franklin (Pamela Sue Martin) the fictional brothel Prostitute who inadvertently leads John Dillinger to his death in front of the Biograph Theatre is Sayles best screenplay, I also think it’s the best script ever written for an exploitation movie.

Which on one hand sounds like a grandiose claim to make, but on the other hand…is it?



Exploitation movies have a rogues’ gallery of classics, and near classics, and even anti-classics, as well as many instances of directorial tour-de-force. Usually performed on a budgetary shoestring, that only makes their achievement more triumphant. However the scripts themselves are rarely the strongest element of exploitation movie classics. There are some stand out examples. The be-bop pizzazz of Charles B. Griffith’s screenplays for Roger Corman (especially the early ones). Of course everyone would cite “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Bucket of Blood”, but I equally love “Rock All Night.”

R. Wright Campbell’s script for Corman’s “Machine Gun Kelly,” the best script Corman ever shot, including those written by Richard Matheson and Robert Towne. And on the same American-International Pictures double bill as “Machine Gun Kelly” was Stan Shpetner’s lively script for William Witney’s “The Bonnie Parker Story.” Which not only predates Benton and Newman’s “Bonnie and Clyde,” it predates David Lynch’s “Wild At Heart” as well (including flame dissolves). It’s the dialogue in Shpetner’s script that really sings, and places alongside other grindhouse dialogue classics like Jackie Moran’s script for Russ Meyers “Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!” and Mel Wells beatnik slang dialogue polish in Jack Arnold’s “High School Confidential.”

Shpetner, who spent most of his career as a producer, only wrote three produced screenplays, but his second one for William Witney is a doozy as well.  The 1958 World War II action adventure “Paratroop Command.” It’s the best of American-International Pictures World War II potboilers. (Burt Topper’s “Hell Squad” is pretty good too), but I think it’s a little more than that. It contains a realism that sets it apart from most World War II movies of the fifties (Sam Fuller’s films aside). To compare it to “Platoon” might be going a bit too far, but only a bit. Because director Witney spent as much time in World War II as Oliver Stone did in Vietnam, and not making movies with the Mark Harris bunch. Fighting the war. But what “Paratroop Command” completely predates is the early sixties beloved classic World War II TV show “Combat.” Even to the point of starring Combat’s “Kirby” Jack Hogan, a William Witney regular (“Paratroop Command”, “The Bonnie Parker Story”, and “The Cat Burglar”).

And, yes, in standout B-movie scripts, I suppose you could include Eddie and Mildred Dein’s Eugene O’Neill play by way of a 50’s commie espionage thriller, “Shack Out On 101.” The first two scripts of Romero’s Living Dead trilogy. Bobby Poole’s uncredited Scarface remake “The Mack” (instead of Italian gangsters in Chicago battling over bootleg beer, it’s black pimps in Oakland fighting over pussy and power). The brutal simplicity of John Carpenter and Debra Hill’s original “Halloween” screenplay. The fact that Carpenter and Hill turned Michael Myers “The Shape” into Laurie Strode’s (Jamie Lee Curtis) brother in the first sequel was an awful idea, and ruins one part of the great premise of the first film. The seemingly randomness of Michael Myers selection of Laurie as the object of his…affection? Also the stupid brother angle casts all the other “Halloween” sequels as fruit from a poison tree, including Dwight Little’s superior “Halloween 4” and Steve Miner’s superlative “Halloween H2O.”

And before I get to “The Lady In Red”, there’s John Sayles’ two witty riffs on Spielberg’s “Jaws,” Joe Dante’s “Piranha” and Lewis Teague’s “Alligator.”

“Piranha” for its cleverness, and the true gonzo gruesomeness of its bloody climax at a summer camp for small children. The movie seems to relish the idea of putting chubby legged and armed little tikes in the pathway of vicious razor-sharp teethed little fish. In the bloody inner tube floating free-for-all climax, we see many a child chewed alive one razor-sharp bite at a time. Including one unfortunate little girl who seemingly gets her crotch burrowed into by one aggressive piranha with an agenda all its own.

Also at the climax “Piranha” has a suspense beat worthy of the Spielberg original. Bradford Dillman, who’s quite good in a rare lead, usually around this time he made a living yelling at Dirty Harry, or playing priggish two star generals (“Meteor”), or priggish gold mining executives (“Gold”). However in “Piranha,” in his sexy beard and woodsy flannel shirt, Dillman comes across as a pretty virile leading man. And with his over enunciated way of gritting out his lines through clenched teeth he strikes a B-movie Charlton Heston pose (a pose that looks good on him). Dillman, the film’s hero, has to turn the wheel to a valve that closes the waterway from the dam to the ocean (the super Piranha can live in both fresh water and salt water, so if they get to the ocean…that’s it). Only the dam has flooded and the wheel for the valve is located under water. So Brad must go diving in his red flannel shirt, find the valve, turn the wheel, all as the little killer fish descend on him attacking his flesh. Very exciting.

I’m sure Sayles original script was pretty witty, but smart aleck filmmaker Joe Dante was always more comfortable when he could engage in Mad Magazine style satiric humor. And by the end of “Piranha” it feels both like a satire on Jaws rip-offs, and an exciting bloody Jaws rip-off in its own right. And Sayles script for Lewis Teague’s “Alligator” is even better. I will always be indebted to “Alligator” because it’s due to that film that I chose Robert Forster to play Max Cherry in my film “Jackie Brown.” Now some have theorized Pam Grier’s character Jackie Brown is actually her character in “Coffy” and “Foxy Brown” only older and wiser and in a dead end job, beaten down by a hard life. Normally I like this type of thinking. And I understand the temptation. But I saw it more as a continuation of the actress’ persona than the actual characters from the earlier movies. Besides, does anybody really think the young Jackie Brown was blowing off drug dealers heads with a sawed off shotgun, leading black revolutionaries, and cutting off Peter Brown’s penis? On the other hand, the Sayles-scripted, Forster-portrayed cop who battles the giant Alligator in the movie of the same name could very well be the same man who became a bail bondsmen and opened up a bail bonds office in Carson, California, seventeen years later. All the way down to the jokes they make about Forster’s thinning hair in the first movie, to his visible hair plugs in the second (“When I look in the mirror, it looks like me”).

But all these examples seem fully realized by their directors and their performers. But then again these filmmakers Roger Corman, William Witney, Russ Meyer, Jack Arnold, George A. Romero, Joe Dante, and John Carpenter are some of the most innovative directors of this type of cinema that ever lived. But “The Lady in Red” is a somewhat different story. And that’s not a slight on the film that Lewis Teague directed, or Julie Corman produced, or Pamela Sue Martin’s performance (she’s sensational).

The movie itself is tremendously entertaining. It holds up beautifully to repeated viewings (I’ve completely lost count how many times I’ve seen it since I saw it at The Rolling Hills Twin Cinema the week of its initial Los Angeles engagement). Nevertheless, John Sayles wrote a big screen big budget gangster epic, with one of the best female characters of any movie of the second half of the seventies. And while Teague and Corman pull it off, they do it by hanging on for dear life. Sayles’ script deserved a much bigger canvas, a much, much bigger budget, and a much, much, much longer shooting schedule. With all the limitations imposed on them, Teague’s film is a miracle. But making a classic out of this material shouldn’t have required a miracle. Just talent and time. Teague and the cast provided the former, but New World Pictures could only provide so much of the latter. Sayles script is much better then the one Sergio Leone shot for his period gangster epic “Once Upon A Time In America”. I’ve always imagined a world where Robert De Niro plays Robert Conrad’s John Dillinger, and Harvey Keitel plays Robert Forster’s Turk. If it sounds like I’m advocating for a big time director to stage a proper production of Sayles’ script, I am. David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence, I’m talking to you.

There really is no female-led feature film set in the thirties quite like “The Lady in Red.” Or better said, it’s like five thirties set female-led features rolled into one huge Russian novel of a movie (shot on a shoestring in four weeks). The journey that our heroine, Polly Franklin, takes from humble beginning to blood-soaked end manages to cover every different female archetype of the depression. Farmer’s (abused) daughter, deflowered innocent, sweat shop worker, taxi dancer, prison inmate, brothel prostitute, greasy spoon waitress, romantic lover (of John Dillinger no less), all leading to her last position, ringleader of a bank robbery gang. As Polly hops from position and circumstance, she also illustrates just how out of reach the American dream was for a poor working girl in the big city.

But this isn’t just a Chicago-set tale of female subjugation like Japan’s “The Life of Oharu.” Polly’s journey is sporadically littered with small triumphs and impressive demonstrations of strength. She may spend most of the film behind the eight ball, yet she never gives in to victimization. Polly has a plethora of tormentors throughout the picture. Tiny Alice (the cruel women’s prison matron, who introduces herself to the fresh fish with the line; “I’m Tiny Alice, and from now on I rate top billing in all of your nightmares”), Frognose (the even crueler Chicago gangland leader), the weasel newspaper reporter played by Bobby Hogan who, like a heroine in a Thomas Hardy novel, sets poor Polly on her path of degradation in the first place, and the maggot sweat shop foreman played to one-note perfection by a perfectly loathsome Dick Miller. And Pamela Sue Martin’s Polly eventually stands up to and triumphs over all of them. Sayles not only takes Polly through every archetype of women’s roles of the thirties, like I did with The Bride in the Kill Bill movies, he takes her through almost every thirties film genre. Working girl in the big city story, story of a prostitute, female convict in a prison picture, love story, and finally gangster picture.

The story starts when Polly, the young daughter of a farmer, goes to town and accidentally finds herself the hostage in a thirties bank robbery (with a terrific Mary Woronov as the Bonnie Parker-like bank robber). She’s interviewed and exploited by the newspaper press (scumbag Bobby Hogan). And after one beating too many by her religious fanatic father, she runs away hitching a ride to the big city, Chicago. At which point Sayles has her go from one oppressive environment to the next. Sweat shop worker, then taxi dancer, where she’s busted for prostitution and sent to prison and put under the thumb of women in prison matron from hell, Tiny Alice, played like a villainous ham sandwich by Nancy Parsons (she was Bulliela Balbricker in Bob Clark’s “Porky’s”). Parsons in this, “Porky’s,” and her role as part of Farmer Vincent’s brother-sister act in “Motel Hell” was both hideous and strangely sexy. She didn’t just play battle-axes. There was a sensual femininity underneath her ogres. When Polly’s released from the joint, through plot circumstances she’s forced to join the whorehouse of Hungarian immigrant Anna Sage (Louise Fletcher), Chicago’s biggest madam. After the whirlwind of degradation we’ve witnessed up till now, Anna’s whorehouse seems like a spiritual retreat. Polly at last finds a family (watch for a great cameo by Robert Forster).

Sayles once said when he wrote “The Lady In Red” he imagined it as a fast talking Raoul Walsh/James Cagney type gangster picture. Only the director shot it more like a Louis Malle film. That’s a reference to Malle’s thirties-set brothel drama “Pretty Baby” with Brooke Shields. And the whole brothel section does seem a bit like “Pretty Baby Part 2.” Which considering the resources at Teague’s disposal is pretty impressive, baby.

As I’ve already hinted at an epic novel worth of events happens in the course of the story to Polly. Ultimately leading to Polly spearheading a bank robbery against the mob backed bank controlled by the films big villain Frognose, Chicago’s most sadistic mobster (played like a snarling Doberman by a terrifying Christopher Lloyd). John Dillinger (this time played by TV superstar diminutive tough guy Robert Conrad) doesn’t enter the story until about midway (the very good Conrad, along with Martin Sheen, is the only actor to play both Dillinger & Pretty Boy Floyd). While John Sayles’ material deserved both a bigger canvas and a bigger production, Polly got the interpreter she deserved in Pamela Sue Martin. “The Lady In Red” is a low budget classic of its era, and in a large part that’s due to Martin’s dynamic lead performance. With all Polly goes through she’s never less then human. Even when the life of a thirties brothel prostitute turns her from a naive young girl to a big city tough cookie, her heart never hardens. She takes a Leo Gorcey-Dead End Kid-type street kid off the street and gets him a job at Anna’s (played very well by Coppola regular Glenn Withrow).

She looks after her Jewish communist cellmate from prison even after she leaves jail. And during her time at the horrible sewing factory, like a sweat shop Spartacus she leads the other women in a revolt against the bullying foreman, Dick Miller. “Oh, you’re a real big man, bullying a bunch of hungry women,” she tells him in front of the eyes of the other hungry women. And when she finally finds love in the arms of Dillinger, it’s like her heart is granted, if not freedom, at least parole. And so is the heart of the audience as well. It’s one of the things so successful about the movie. We feel every single emotion Polly feels. We go on this epic journey with Polly. That’s why when the film reaches her hard-fought final freeze frame we’re all exhausted. The game maybe rigged against her throughout the whole movie. But Polly always plays to win anyway. And in her own way, in that final freeze frame, she does. She’s paid the cost to be the boss.

Both the cops and the mob will be on her trail. And tomorrow is just another hard day.

But she’s got the loot, she’s got the nerve, and she’s still alive.

The game continues…and she’s still in it to win it.



jenkins

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Reply #2 on: March 30, 2020, 01:24:15 AM
the theater is closed but the reviews are still coming


jenkins

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Reply #3 on: March 30, 2020, 11:13:17 PM
when he adores something it's hard to adore it more than he does

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Targets - (1968)

One of the coolest aspects of Roger Corman’s legendary legacy, is the unique, capitalist in nature, investments/experiments, he’d assign to his young protégés. Corman felt if he was flying to a location to make one of his movies that offered unique visual opportunities (as opposed to most of his other movies that he just shot all around Los Angeles or Bronson Canyon), the most expensive part of the expenditure, was the airplane tickets to get the cast and the crew to these locations.

So if the locations are striking enough to fly there in the first place, why not make two movies? One shot by him, and another one done on the cheap by one of his protégés, with a few actors left over from the earlier production. This is how Corman’s dry WW2 adventure, Ski Troop Attack, shot on the snowy mountains of Northwood South Dakota, begat Monte Hellman’s hip Beast of the Haunted Cave. Or how his racing car flick The Young Racers, which finished its European tour shoot in Ireland, begat Francis Ford Coppola’s Dementia 13.

He’d also come up with tricky puzzles that young filmmakers had to figure out how to solve. Like make one movie with one filmmaker and release it. Then take another filmmaker, and tell them to remove twenty or thirty minutes out of the first picture. Shoot twenty or thirty minutes worth of new footage that changes the plot, slap a new title on it, and release it as a new movie. That’s how Jack Hill’s Blood Bath, became Stephanie Rothman’s Track of the Vampire. How Oscar Williams’ 1972 Billy Dee Williams independent feature, The Final Comedown, became 1976’s Billy Dee Williams Blaxploitation flick Blast! (with footage reshot by Allan Arkush). How Charles B. Griffith’s 1976 car chase hit Eat My Dust starring Ron Howard, became Charles B. Griffith’s 1981’s car chase comedy Smokey Bites The Dust starring Jimmy McNichol.

Corman continued with these cannibalized experiments into the nineties. But of all the tricky Corman puzzles that Roger produced, Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets is the class act. But I’m sure at the time, Roger’s initial proposal probably didn’t seem so promising to the young filmmaker (the film was written and directed by Bogdanovich, and conceived by Peter and his then wife Polly Platt). The deal that Roger offered Peter and Polly was horror film icon Boris Karloff owed Corman two days work. So Peter was to take one of the Karloff films that Corman owned, the terrible The Terror, and appropriate twenty minutes of Karloff footage out of it. Come up with a new story and shoot twenty minutes of footage during a two day shoot with Karloff. Then forty minutes of footage with other actors, and voilà…a new Boris Karloff horror title!

Now this Corman Puzzle had a few hard to rectify pieces. First, any movie that must incorporate twenty minutes from The Terror, is practically doomed on arrival.

Second, if you must use that much footage from The Terror, you sorta’ hafta’ make a gothic horror film. Well by 1968 gothic horror films just didn’t seem to work anymore.

In the Summer of Love they seemed old fashioned to the point of camp. And most importantly, they weren’t scary. Even the reigning horror star of that time Vincent Price didn’t make them anymore. Instead focusing on crueler visions like Michael Reeves Witchfinder General, and its de facto sequel Cry of the Banshee, or the hip Art Deco decor of Robert Fuest’s The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Even when Price dipped his beak back in the Edgar Allan Poe pond, it wasn’t Corman’s strategically set bound affairs. It was Gordon Hessler’s much rougher and more potent The Oblong Box.

But the third undesirable item was Karloff himself. Actually Boris Karloff had entered the sixties quite strong. He was easily one of the most recognizable voices and faces on television from the golden age of Hollywood still making movies. His old horror films were enormously popular on local television stations, both his Universal classics, and his more mediocre Columbia horror titles. But that would also include his Abbott & Costello movies, his Charlie Chan movie, his Fu Manchu movies, his Mr. Wong movies, etc. And for an old man deep in his seventies, Karloff acquitted himself with dignity and class in many sixties projects. He had his anthology TV series Thriller, as well as a Gold Key Thriller comic book and another Gold Key comic book called Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery, that was in print years after his death. He played supporting roles in some studio productions, he’s heartbreaking at the end of MGM’s spy drama The Venetian Affair with Robert Vaughn. And he’s doubly heartbreaking in what I think before Targets, and along with Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath, his greatest performance of the decade, his guest star role on the spy show I, Spy with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby in an episode titled Mainly on the Plains. Where Karloff played a nuclear scientist living in Spain, Don Ernesto Slivando, who’s developed a technology that can take missiles out of the sky. Naturally both Kelly & Scotty want to convince the old man to bring the technology to the United States. The only problem is the old man has developed dementia, and he thinks he’s Miguel de Cervantes’ literary heroic fool Don Quixote. Watching the great Karloff slashing at the blades of windmills with his walking cane can break your heart in two. It’s a tremendous performance and could be the most moving dramatization of de Cervantes myth done in English.

Speaking of spies and secret agents, he also appeared as a Thrush Agent (in compete drag) on The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. as Mother Muffin (who seems to have quite a crush on Napoleon Solo), and in brown face as Maharajah of Rampor Mr. Singh (sic) on The Wild Wild West. And continuing to appear in classy productions for American International Pictures (Black Sabbath, The Raven, Comedy of Terrors, Die Monster Die and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini). And as a child of this time (5-8) along with his Universal horror films, and Abbott and Costello films, and comedies like The Boogie Man Will Get You if You Don’t Watch Out, I knew him from his magnificent LP An Evening with Boris Karloff and Friends (I played that 100 times, and can still quote the dialogue included verbatim), his voice work on the Dr. Seuss television holiday staple The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and the Rankin-Bass puppetoon extravaganza Mad Monster Party!

However his track record at the time for appearing in real horror films was pretty lousy. The only ones that worked were the humorous ones (The Raven, Mad Monster Party, Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, which he’s quite funny in). But the real horror films, the ones that are supposed to be scary, go from mediocre (Die Monster Die), to dull (The Terror), to abysmal (Frankenstein 1970). The last time Karloff had been in both a horror classic, and had been genuinely scary was as the Russian vampire Gorca in I Wurdalak section of Mario Bava’s horror masterpiece Black Sabbath. But aside from that, Karloff like his surrogate Byron Orlok in Bogdanovich’s film complains, “They use to say, Garbo makes you cry, Chaplin makes you laugh, Orlok makes you scream. Now, they call my films camp”. That was Karloff’s persona in 1968.

After Peter and Polly screened The Terror, the movie they had to use twenty minutes of, they realized how much trouble they were in (while many hands shot footage on The Terror, Corman, Jack Hill, Monte Hellman, Daniel Haller, it was Francis Ford Coppola at eleven days that shot the most). But the lameness of The Terror prompted a discussion between the creative couple, why aren’t these old fashioned castle set, candelabra-carrying gothics not scary anymore (they were also watching a particularly bad one. In Italy something like Castle of Blood, if not scary, was entertaining)?

The answer Peter and Polly came up with was that the real life gun violence of political assassination, airplane hijacking, and lunatics with high powered rifles who shoot strangers from roof tops, have replaced Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman as the scary figures that kept people from sleeping at night. So with the sniper from the university tower in Austin Texas, Charles Whitman, fresh in their minds, they flipped the script on Corman’s tricky puzzle. Fuck the period gothic castle based idea, set the film in present day swingin’ LA. Don’t cast Karloff as a sinister Count or Baron, but as what he was…a legendary Hollywood movie star who was still alive plugging away in a Hollywood he didn’t recognize anymore.

And make a monster movie, but a modern monster movie. A movie where the monster isn’t a vampire, or a radioactive freak in a stupid suit, or a witch, or the ghost of Karloff’s long dead wife, but a young good looking, crew cut sporting, Baby Ruth eating, baby boomer who grew up in a house recognizable to most (white) viewers as their own, who watched Joey Bishop on TV with his family, and listened to 93 KHJ on the car radio of his mustang convertible.

The monster in this monster movie wasn’t the boy next door. It was the monster hiding inside the boy next door. The monster you couldn’t detect (except for ever so brief flashes). The monster the boy spent his life camouflaging. The monster that spent its entire life fighting the boy for domination. Targets is about what happens when the boy can fight the monster no longer. When the monster wins. When the monster breaks free, takes control, and wrecks bloody havoc on all who cross its path.

Now if that sounds too ambitious for a ten day Corman puzzle…it was. And the cheeky couple knew it. They knew the script they were fashioning wasn’t exactly what Corman had asked for, and it definitely wasn’t what he was expecting. But they hoped it would be good enough, and ultimately cheap enough, that Corman might finance it anyway.

Well the young couple were more perspective to Corman’s psych then they could of known at the time. Corman had offered these investments/experiments to a few different filmmakers over the years, and he’d continue to offer them to many more to come. These other filmmakers usually held to the letter of the law when it came to Corman’s requirements. But invariably when the time came to screen for the big man the results of their endeavor, he usually hated them (supposedly Corman and Coppola didn’t speak for two years after Dementia 13). Forcing Roger to spend even more money (unforgivable), whipping them in shape via second unit shoots by others in order the release them (Jack Hill, per Roger’s request, shot second unit on Coppola’s Dementia 13, adding an additional axe murder, and that was the end of Hill and Coppola’s relationship. Hill collaborated on all of Coppola’s early projects). But as capitalistic, as clean cut, and yes, even square as Corman was (Joe Dante once told me, “Roger wasn’t hip. But Roger knew who was hip”), he was a leftist at heart. Roger Corman’s philosophy was give me the elements I need to market a commercial picture. And as he saw them, those elements were action and sex (Jonathan Demme recalled Roger would make notes in red pen right on the script, possible female breast nudity here?). But if you gave him action & sex, then he wanted…a slight social statement…imbedded somewhere inside of the movie.

In the nineties Corman would go on talk shows and famously state that he made two hundred movies, and never lost a dime…except once. The one exception was an independent feature he financed himself called The Intruder (aka I Hate Your Guts). The Intruder (1962) is a dynamite film, done in the style of a Playhouse 90 drama, about a white racist outside agitator, played ferociously by a young William Shatner, who stokes the fires of anti-black rhetoric in a white southern community. Along with Machine Gun Kelly it’s the best film Corman ever directed. The script with its incendiary dialogue by Charles Beaumont is one hot fuckin’ potato. And Shatner as the loathsome lead has never been better. The film was made because Roger saw the TV reports of what was happing in the south during the civil rights war. He saw the dogs, and the fire hoses, and the ugly white faces screaming, and he wanted to do something about it. And as Joe Dante once told me; “The idea that Roger felt so strongly about a subject he’d spend his own money, without a guaranteed return on his investment, was meaningful. Because that’s not something Roger did.”

And when he lost that investment he learned his lesson and never did it again.

That’s when he started burying his slight social statement deep inside the marrow of his women in prison movies and dystopian future movies. The plight of the rural poor in Boxcar Bertha and Big Bad Mama. The sly social satire that runs throughout Death Race 2000 (especially the way the government blames everything on the French).

The fact that two years before One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest came out and said there are illegal lobotomy’s being preformed in American institutions, Jonathan Demme’s women in prison flick Caged Heat had already said it. But Bogdanovich’s Targets is the most political movie Corman ever made since The Intruder. And forty years later it’s still one of the strongest cries for gun control in American cinema.
The film isn’t a thriller with a social commentary buried inside of it (the normal Corman model), it’s a social commentary with a thriller buried inside of it.

From 1967 to 1972 four movies came out that dealt with four real life killers. In Cold Blood (Perry Smith & Dick Hickock), The Boston Strangler (Albert DeSalvo), Targets (surrogate for Charles Whitman), Dirty Harry (surrogate for The Zodiac Killer). Richard Brooks played such arty games with In Cold Blood he sapped the story of its power. And Richard Fleischer with his split screen shenanigans ended up doing the same thing with The Boston Strangler. Don Siegel in Dirty Harry does the best job up to that time in dealing with the serial killer phenomena. But he does it by telling his story in service of a police thriller. But Bogdanovich plays the Charles Whitman aspect upfront and center, but the amusing Boris Karloff section saves the film from earnestness.

So when Peter and Polly came back to Corman with a topical torn from the headlines thriller, as opposed to a dull as dishwater castle bound gothic, yet still managed to incorporate Boris Karloff into the proceedings, I suspect the crafty Corman was proud of his husband and wife team. I also suspect the grand star treatment that Karloff is afforded in the film must of warmed Corman’s heart to some degree. What drew Roger to Peter in the first place was his tribute-based writings on the old Hollywood masters.

And actually watching Karloff, who’d been acting in movies since the silent days, getting such a royal send off at the twilight of his career couldn’t help but warm anybody’s heart. As Joe Dante (the true source of information on all things Corman) points out in his Trailers from Hell commentary on Targets, the other Corman graduates didn’t have the benefit of Sam Fuller spitballing their climax (it was Fuller who came up with the idea of the sniper’s final confrontation with Karloff), or getting script notes from Howard Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock. Nevertheless no other director ever solved one of Corman’s tricky puzzles so ingeniously (Bogdanovich actually incorporates quite a lot of footage of The Terror into his film). But Targets is even better than that. It was one of the most powerful films of 1968 and one of the greatest directorial debuts of all time. And I believe the best film ever produced by Roger Corman. Actually the best film ever produced by Roger Corman is Bogdanovich’s eighth film, Saint Jack. But that film was done and released as an art film. Targets achieves its diamond in the rough status and still manages to play its game by Corman’s capitalistic rules.


WorldForgot

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Reply #4 on: April 13, 2020, 06:31:12 PM
The Daisy Miller and Lady in Red reviews are outstanding.

Latest is a vintage cut -- TARANTINO ON MILIUS 1982

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This interview with writer-director John Milius was conducted when I was twenty years old (and boy does it show). The last film he had done at the time was Conan the Barbarian. I just called up his assistant and told her I was writing a book, and she set me up with an interview with him. I met with him twice for the interview. The first time was in his office on the Paramount lot. The second time was on the set of the film Uncommon Valor, which he was producing. He told me he didn’t want Gene Hackman for the lead, he wanted James Arness! Later I was to become friends with Big John. At the beginning of ‘95, before the Academy Awards, I was taken duck hunting by John Milius, Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis. John and I sat in a duck blind all day, sipping whiskey out of a flask, talking about movies and shooting the tail feathers off of ducks. This is only part of it. Later I’ll transcribe more.


Something Spanish

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Reply #5 on: April 13, 2020, 09:55:43 PM
QT actually devotes almost three hours to discussing his reviews on the new beverly podcast, think it's called pure cinema pod. it's an excellent listen, never get tired of hearing the man talk movies.


WorldForgot

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Reply #6 on: April 23, 2020, 05:57:21 PM


Deliverance (1972)
Which the New Bev double features with Boogie Nights every now and then ~

Quote
In retrospect, it’s a little bizarre to appreciate the impact that the disturbing Deliverance made in its day (1972). The movie was not only a hit, it was a zeitgeist hit. The movie was part of the public conversation of the day in a way that thrillers and action movies seldom are. The very thing that made the movie disturbing is what made it a popular must-see movie in the summer of ‘72. I saw it with my mom on a date at the age of ten on a double feature with The Wild Bunch (one of the greatest nights of moviegoing in my life) at The Tarzana Movies. One of the few cinemas at the time that had six screens (I remember I wanted to see Bert I. Gordon’s The Mad Bomber with Chuck Connors. And at one point I snuck into that cinema screen and watched five minutes – as Bret Easton Ellis would say, “Ahhhh…the seventies”).


eward

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Reply #7 on: April 23, 2020, 06:02:31 PM
Added to this:

PURE CINEMA PODCAST: KUNG FU CINEMA WITH QUENTIN TARANTINO

Quentin Tarantino returns to the Pure Cinema Podcast for a special new episode dedicated to his passion for Kung Fu cinema. Special guest Dan Halsted, diehard film collector and head programmer at Portland’s Hollywood Theatre, joins the Oscar-winning filmmaker, Pure Cinema hosts Elric Kane & Brian Saur, and the New Beverly’s social media manager Phil Blankenship for a wide-ranging discussion about martial arts movies, with a special focus on the films Quentin has reviewed recently for the New Beverly website.

https://thenewbev.com/blog/2020/04/pure-cinema-podcast-quentin-tarantino-kung-fu-films/


jenkins

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Reply #8 on: April 23, 2020, 06:30:31 PM
yeah it's funny i mean QT, Halsted, Blankenship, they're the realdeal in terms of film nerds

Halsted has a famous Shaw Bros discovery which either is or isn't mentioned in the podcast, i'd guess is


WorldForgot

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Reply #9 on: April 23, 2020, 06:31:52 PM
Blankenship iz rly cool. Always enjoyed chatting with him when he visited the Grove or before matinees.

Jenks did you know Philz a diehard for noise and runs Troniks?


jenkins

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Reply #10 on: April 23, 2020, 06:34:35 PM
totally. i like how metal fans tend to be eh (no offense to local metal nerds, i'm making fun of not-you) but he even makes being a metal nerd seem like good nerdery


jenkins

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Reply #11 on: April 23, 2020, 09:45:16 PM
the noise music wiki okay it's extreme art nerdery and while it's true that "Genres such as industrial, industrial techno, lo-fi music, black metal, sludge metal, and glitch music employ noise-based materials" it's its own thing, exists as its own entity, "takes characteristics of the perceived negative traits of noise mentioned below and uses them in aesthetic and imaginative ways." the mentioned below is a whole thing

i smile that he'd be like "oh the basics you mean." it's both absurd and arty, it's a good call


jenkins

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Reply #12 on: January 13, 2021, 01:53:34 AM
OH SURE MAKE THE BOOK DEAL AND THE REVIEWS DISAPPEAR I'M NOT EVEN SURE IF I LIKE YOUR MOVIES ANYMORE


WorldForgot

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Reply #13 on: January 13, 2021, 08:38:28 AM
:lol: