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Hell on Wheels: Vintage outlaw biker movie posters
09.05.2014
08:45 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
gangs
Outlaw Bikers

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Today’s youth culture seems quite tame when compared to the cheap thrills exhibited in this selection of outlaw biker movie posters from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Films like Twilight or (your favorite Marvel superhero here) can hardly compete with The Cycle Savages (starring Bruce Dern), Werewolves on Wheels (genius idea, though apparently the speeding lycanthropes howl and growl for a mere five minutes in this flick) or Angels: Hard As They Come, an early Jonathan Demme movie in which “Big men with throbbing machines” met their match in “the girls who can take them on.” Fnarr..Fnarr…

These films mixed Western outlaw narratives (sometimes directly lifted from other movies) with the heightened anxieties of suburban parental America and a dash of spice from some real Hell’s Angels to give it flavor. They also offered meaty roles for the likes of Bruce Dern, John Cassavetes, Alex Rocco, (the ubiquitous) Jack Nicholson, Ann-Margret, Jane Russell and even Casey Kasem, and a chance for many a young director to learn their trade. Taking a look at these posters one can almost smell the grease and gas fumes from here.
 
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More outlaw bikers after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘Symbiopsychotaxiplasm’: Mind-boggling, multilayered 1971 film is an experimental masterwork
09.04.2014
05:29 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
William Greaves

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm
“Are we making a movie, or are we not?” (William Greaves in Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One)

Filmmaker William Greaves recently passed away at the age 87. Greaves, an African-American, left behind a respected body of work, including award-winning documentaries that tackled issues of race. But he is perhaps known best for a movie that doesn’t address race directly. In fact, lack of direction is one of the fundamental elements of the film.

Shot in Central Park in the spring of 1968, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One at first glance appears to be a documentary about the making of a film. But what’s with the clichéd dialogue, and why are multiple actors playing the same characters? Are they shooting a film or is it a screen test? Or is the finished product going to be something else entirely? Does the director even know what he is doing? Cast, crew, and audience alike ask these questions and are left to wonder: What kind of film is this?

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One is a film within a film within a film. One camera recorded the drama Greaves was directing, while another documented the making of the movie, and a third recorded all of the action on set. A fourth camera was handled by Greaves, on occasion. All of these viewpoints are incorporated into the film at various times. If it all sounds like a formula for total chaos, it is anything but. Greaves had a master plan—he just didn’t let anyone else know about it.

Greaves went out on many a limb during the filming of Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One, including the way he chose to depict his own character, which was a fictionalized version of his true self. Early on, he makes an overtly sexist comment, and then proceeds to act as a bumbling, indecisive director, one who is constantly asking others for their opinions. Greaves was surreptitiously pushing buttons, testing the concepts of power and collaboration in art and elsewhere, but his race was also a factor. In 1968, there were relatively few African-American film directors, and Greaves, by playing the fool, was baiting the cast, crew—and the audience—into making judgments based on the color of his skin.

Of the many fascinating sequences in Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One are those that show the crew meeting to theorize about the nature of the production, speculating on Greaves’ mind-set and his competence (or lack thereof) as a writer and director. There is much confusion as to what exactly is going on, yet one crewmember has a prescient view of what is happening in that moment—that their on-camera discussion concerning Greaves and his movie—is, in fact, their “function” in the film.
 
William Greaves creates a diversion
William Greaves creates a diversion.

To ponder too many specifics is akin to getting sucked into the rabbit hole Greaves has created, and, frankly, spoils some of the fun for a first-time viewer. The director, in notes he jotted down before cameras rolled, acknowledged the fruitlessness in outlining the project in great detail, which is also part of his modus operandi for Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One:

Refuse to give total explanation of the film! First of all, it is impossible due to its complexity. Give only as much of an explanation as will satisfy the performers and film crew. To give more will kill the truth and spontaneity of everyone.

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One was first screened in 1971, but for decades was only shown sporadically. It would take the support of two high-profile fans, Steve Buscemi and Steven Soderbergh, to finally bring the film into wide release in 2005, when it at last earned the attention and acclaim it deserves.

At one point, while filming in Central Park, Greaves is asked for the name of the movie they are making: “Over the Cliff,” he says. “We’re going over a cliff.” A director with less ability (and nerve) couldn’t have pulled-off the experiment that became Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One, but William Greaves had the confidence and skill to not only take his cast and crew, but also the audience—and the director, himself—right over that cliff.

Check out the trailer:

Then watch the entire film:

Criterion’s definitive two-disc DVD set of Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One (which includes Greaves’ 2003 sequel, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take Two) is still available.

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Discussion
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‘ABCs of Death 2’: Gory, hilarious trailer with 26 ways to die, a different director for each letter
09.02.2014
12:59 pm

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
horror
Julian Barratt
Drafthouse Films


 
I’m not a big fan of the whole “gore” genre. Although I do harbor a fondness for Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Blood Feast, 2000 Maniacs and The Wizard of Gore—and hey, I even saw Joel M. Reed’s hilariously gruesome Bloodsucking Freaks in an old school Times Square grindhouse (shudder)—generally speaking, modern “torture porn” movies are not my idea of a thick shake (if you’ll pardon my obscure Bloodsucking Freaks reference). Those films are goofy, camp fun, but I don’t feel like I’m missing anything having not partaken of the Saw films…

I write this by way of telling you that I have no idea what possessed me to click on the publicist’s email this morning for the latest release from the mighty Drafthouse Films, the anthology film ABCs of Death 2. I’d have thought there was nothing there for me, but I watched it, I laughed out loud and now I cannot wait to see this sucker…

Featuring 26 directors, each exploring the theme of death a letter at a time, including The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barratt, Juan of the Dead director Alejandro Brugués, Rodney Ascher director of Room 237, animator Bill Plympton , Vincenzo Natali (Cube), twin sister horror auteurs Jen and Sylvia Soska (Dead Hooker In A Trunk), Lancelot Imasuen (star of the Nollywood Babylon doc) and many others.

ABCs of Death 2 will have its world premiere at Fantastic Fest on opening night, September 18, in Austin, TX.  The film will be available on VOD on October 2 and in theaters on October 31.

This is seriously NSFW unless you work at a morgue… and seriously funny, too.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The creepy fantasies that inspired John Fowles’ novel ‘The Collector’

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John Fowles was a 37-year-old school teacher when his first novel The Collector was published in 1963. Though Fowles had been writing for fifteen years completing two novels and an early draft of his second book The Magus, he considered himself “unpublishable.” Then he started work on an idea about a man who kidnaps a young art student and keeps her imprisoned in the basement of his home.  Fowles wrote the book in about a month, and thinking he had nothing to lose sent the manuscript off to his agent, Michael S. Howard who liked it and passed it on to the publishers Jonathan Cape. Tom Maschler at Cape thought The Collector a powerful and impressive debut, but was concerned that Fowles (who thought of himself a “serious writer”) may damage his reputation with such a lurid and disturbing tale. Fowles was adamant—he wanted the book published under his own name.

Anyone familiar with The Collector may have wondered what inspired Fowles’ grim tale. In a letter written to Maschler in July 1962, the author explained his sources in writing the novel:

...all this came from a newspaper incident of some years ago (there was a similar case in the North of England last year, by the way). But the whole idea of the woman-in-the-dungeon has interested me since I saw Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, which was before the air-raid shelter case.

 
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Film poster for ‘The Collector’ starring Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar, 1965.
 
The news story Fowles mentioned concerned “a man who had kidnapped a girl and imprisoned her for several weeks in an air-raid shelter at the bottom of his garden.”

While the musical reference Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle (1911) told the story of Duke Bluebeard who warns his new bride Judith not to open any of the seven doors in his castle. Impelled by curiosity, Judith opens each of the seven doors finding behind the first a torture chamber and behind the last, the ghosts of Bluebeard’s previous wives.
 
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Terence Stamp as butterfly collector Frederick Clegg.
 
However, there was far darker, more personal and disturbing inspiration for the novel, which Fowles explained in his journal entry for February 3rd, 1963:

The Collector. The three sources.

One. My lifelong fantasy of imprisoning a girl underground.

I think I must go back to early in my teens. I remember it used to be famous people Princess Margaret, various film stars. Of course, there was a sexual motive; the love-through-knowledge motive, or motif, has also been constant. The imprisoning in other words, has always been a forcing of my personality as well as my penis on the girl concerned.

Variations I can recall: the harem (several girls in one room, or in a row of rooms); the threat (this involves sharing a whip, but usually not flagellation—the idea of exerted tyranny, entering as executioner); the fellow-prisoner (this by far the commonest variation: the girl is captured and put naked into the underground room; I then have myself put in it, as if I am a fellow-prisoner, and so avoid her hostility).

Another common sexual fantasy is the selection board: I am given six hundred girls to choose fifty from and so on. These fantasies have long been exteriorized in my mind, of course; certainly I use the underground-room one far less since The Collector.

Two, the air-raid shelter incident.

Three, Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle.

 
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Samantha Eggar as art student Miranda Grey.
 
Fowles separated The Collector into three sections, where the captor (Frederick Clegg) and his prisoner (Miranda Grey) describe the events of the book. It begins with Clegg describing the subject of his obsession:

When she was home from her boarding-school I used to see her almost every day sometimes, because their house was right opposite the Town Hall Annexe. She and her younger sister used to go in and out a lot, often with young men, which of course I didn’t like, When I had a free moment from the files and ledgers I stood by the window and used to look down over the road over the frosting and sometimes I’d see her. In the evening I marked it in my observations diary, at first with X, and then when I knew her name with M. I saw her several times outside too. I stood right behind her once in queue at the public library down Crossfield Street. She didn’t look once at me, but I watched the back of her head and her hair in a long pigtail. It was very pale, silky, like burnet cocoons. All in one pigtail coming down almost to her waist, sometimes in front, sometimes at back. Sometimes she wore it up. Only once, before she came to be my guest here, did I have the privilege to see her with it loose, and it took my breath away it was so beautiful, like a mermaid.

 
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Clegg (Stamp) and Miranda (Egggar) in William Wyler’s film version of ‘The Collector.’
 
Fowles’ intention was not just to write a horror story, but to use the characters of Clegg and Miranda as conduits for his own analysis and critique of modern society, in particular his contempt for the lack of intellectual rigor in contemporary fiction—the Angry Young Men who had so forcefully invaded with John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger—and for the failure of socialism to bring equality and change to Britain:

The plot of the novel was:

1. present a character who was inarticulate and nasty, as opposed to the “good” inarticulate hero, who seems to be top dog in post-war fiction and whose inarticulateness is presented as a kind of crowning glory.

2. present a character who is articulate and intelligent—the kind of young person I try to make Miranda Grey—and who is quite clearly a better person because she has a better education.

3. attack the money-minus-morality society (the affluent, the acquisitive) we have lived in since 1951.

On its publication, The Collector was a best-seller. The paperback rights were optioned for “probably the highest price that had hitherto been paid for a first novel”.  The film rights were sold and a movie starring Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar was made in Hollywood and London directed by William Wyler.
 

 
In 1984, The Smiths used a still of Terence Stamp as Clegg from The Collector on the cover of thier single “What Difference Does It Make?” As the actor had not given permission for the image to be used, the single was quickly reissued with Morrissey copying Stamp’s original pose—though a glass of milk had replaced the chloroform.
 
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Terence Stamp as Clegg on the cover of The Smiths single ‘What Difference Does It Make?’
 
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Morrissey as Clegg on the reissued single.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘The Weird World of LSD’ is an unwitting beatnik masterpiece
09.02.2014
07:01 am

Topics:
Drugs
Movies

Tags:
LSD


 
Everything about The Weird World of LSD reeks of bad faith. Everyone calls this the Reefer Madness of the hippie era, and that’s certainly true, but the deadpan hysteria of the cautionary voiceover doesn’t, in the end, have the ring of sincere belief to it. For whom was this movie really intended?

What The Weird World of LSD really is is a series of brief vignettes, sans dialogue, of people ostensibly freaking out after having taken acid. A young woman from out of town turns to LSD out of loneliness and before you know it, she is playing with three kittens—as if that were perfectly legal!! Another woman loses herself in an unattended mannequin warehouse. An overweight “art dealer” helps himself to entire table heaping with food. And so on. A good many of the women in the movie are “voluptuous,” and many of the vignettes involve them taking off their clothes or generally acting out. The whole thing feels a lot like The Twilight Zone overseen by Russ Meyer.

The score is free jazz all the way, daddy-O—there’s tons of flaring flute work here, and in general it helps make the proceedings feel even more staid than the flat black-and-white camerawork would merit on its own. The premise of the movie is that LSD unleashes one’s innermost desires and fears, and also that there’s no going back—once those desires and fears are expressed, you will have no choice but to become their slave. This concept inevitably leads to a certain surrealism in the approach, and if you squint your eyes just so you can pretend that Salvador Dalí himself shot this otherwise undistinguished footage.
 

LSD may induce you to frolic with kittens—WHY WERE WE NOT TOLD??
 
Around six minutes in, a whole sequence is shot behind what looks to be a Googie McDonald’s—I suspect it’s not the famous Googie McDonald’s in Downey, California; it looks too small to be that one. I’d love to be set right on this—was this shot in Downey?

I don’t really think that The Weird World of LSD is a lost Beat masterpiece, no, but that is a pretty cogent way of getting at a movie that’s otherwise difficult to describe. If you’re throwing a party and want to throw something kooky on the wide screen TV, you could do a lot worse than this—but I wouldn’t recommend sitting through it as you would a regular movie. It might make you lose your mind…
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Superstars In Concert’: Jimi, Cream, Rolling Stones, Ike & Tina Turner & more in obscure classic


 
When the question of “What’s the best/great rockumentary of all?” is asked, the answers can range quite widely obviously, from something like Don’t Look Back or Let It Be to The Last Waltz or Stop Making Sense (which both seem to make almost everyone’s lists) to something totally out of left field and life-affirming like Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King. I really loved the new Pulp: a Film about Life, Death and Supermarkets... and wouldn’t “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” be in the running for all-time best rockumentary? Of course it would be!

It’s an impossible question to answer, but sidestepping it somewhat, if I had to pick the best overall “time capsule” of the rock era to preserve for future generations, it would probably be Peter Clifton’s Superstars In Concert.  Also known as Rock City in a different edit, the film was directed and produced by Clifton (The Song Remains the Same, Popcorn, The London Rock and Roll Show) and is a hodge-podge compiling (mostly) his promotional short films and snippets of concert performances shot between 1964 and 1973 by the likes of Peter Whitehead (Wholly Communion, Charlie Is My Darling, Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London), Michael Cooper (who shot Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising), Ernest Vincze (the cinematographer responsible for the 2005 Doctor Who reboot) and Ivan Strasburg (Treme).
 

 
Featured in the film are The Rolling Stones (several times), Eric Burdon and The Animals, a typically demure appearance of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Otis Redding bringing the house down, Cream, Steve Winwood, Blind Faith, Cat Stevens (a stark Kubrickian promo film for his “Father and Son” single) , The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Donovan, Joe Cocker, a segment with The Ike and Tina Turner Revue that will bring a smile to your face, Pink Floyd and Rod Stewart and the Faces. Pete Townshend is seen getting in his digs at the Stones for promoting pot use, managing to make himself look like a blue-nosed twat in the process, while Mick and the boys are seen doing “Jumpin Jack Flash” in the (decidedly more evil) warpaint version of that promo film (there were two, this is the one that was NOT shown on The Ed Sullivan Show for obvious reasons) and in their promo film for “We Love You” which features Keef in a judge’s wig, Marianne Faithfull as a barrister and Mick nude wrapped up in a fur rug (a sly joke that if you don’t get, then google “Rolling Stones,” “Redlands,” drug bust, her name and “Hershey Bar.”)

Superstars In Concert came out in Japan on the laserdisc format and that’s how I first saw it, in the late 80s. Since then, other than the various clips showing up cut from the film on YouTube, it’s remained an obscurity. Apparently there was a Malaysian bootleg and then in 2003 a Brazilian magazine called DVD Total gave away the film for free with one of their issues. So far fewer than 200 people have viewed the video.

DO NOT miss what’s perhaps the most intense version of Pink Floyd’s “Careful with That Axe Eugene” ever captured on film. This entire film is absolutely amazing from start to finish, but it jumps off the scale during that part (Otis Redding is no slouch, either!) I highly recommend letting it load first before you hit play, otherwise it’s kind of flickery. If you wait a while, it doesn’t hang up and looks and sounds great.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘The Balcony’: Peter Falk, Leonard Nimoy & Shelley Winters frolic in Jean Genet’s twisted whorehouse

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The Savage Eye was an early example of American cinema vérité that began as a film project worked on (over several years at weekends and days off) by three friends Ben Maddow (famed and award-winning screenwriter of Asphalt Jungle amongst many others), Sidney Meyers (radical film-maker and documentarian), and Joseph Strick (successful businessman and ambitious film-maker). Their movie mixed social documentary and drama that told the story of one woman’s (low) life in big, anonymous, brash, modern Los Angeles. It became a major hit at the Edinburgh Festival and won the trio a BAFTA—the equivalent of a British Oscar—in 1960. Encouraged by the film’s success, Strick sought out another project to work on.

He tried and failed to option James Joyce’s Ulysses, a project he had long cherished, though he would eventually film Ulysses with Milo O’Shea in 1967, and later produce and direct the big screen adaptation of Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man with Bosco Hogan and John Gielgud in 1977. Having failed on a first attempt with Ulysses, Strick approached Friedrich Dürrenmatt to option his play The Visit—in which a woman offers her home village money and success at the cost of killing her ex-boyfriend—but was also knocked back. He then approached Jean Genet and asked to option the film rights to his highly controversial play The Balcony. This time he was successful.
 
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Jean Genet.
 
The Balcony is a brilliant and often disturbing drama, hailed as either the play that re-invented modern theater or the first great piece of French Brechtian theater—take your pick. Set in a high-class whorehouse situated in some unnamed city during an apparent bloody revolution, the play works as a metaphor for the different classes and corrupt structures of society. Genet wrote the first version of The Balcony (and a first version of The Blacks) in the spring and summer of 1955. Over the next ten years, Genet constantly wrote and rewrote The Balcony and between 1955 and 1961 he published five different versions. (There are some—like the play’s editor Marc Babezat—who believe Genet destroyed the script through his incessant revisions.)

In his introduction to the first version of The Balcony, Genet explained the drama’s story:

This play has as its object the mythology of the whorehouse. A Police Chief is infuriated, chagrined, to notice that at the ‘Great Balcony’ there are many erotic rituals representing various heroes: the Abbe, the Hero, the Criminal, the Beggar—and others besides—but alas, never he Police Chief. He struggles so that his own character will finally, through an exquisite act of grace, haunt the erotic daydreams and that he will thereby become a hero in mythology of the whorehouse.

Though Genet claimed he had no interest in films (“Cinema does not interest me”), he agreed to Strick’s offer to produce a movie version of The Balcony. Edmund White in his biography of Genet described the original meeting between French playwright and American film-maker:

Strick first encountered Genet in Milan, where Genet had reserved rooms in two different hotels ‘in case he had to reject my idea—he’s that sensitive,’ said Strick. Genet had seen one of Strick’s earlier films The Savage Eye, the story of a sad, recently divorced woman and her view of the seedy side of California life. Genet instructed Frechtman to speak to Strick for him: ‘Tell him that a lot of the images in his film touched me, but that the plot construction, the under-pinning appeared to me very weak. He doesn’t prove to us that this woman has changed at the end of the film. Now, a film adapted from The Balcony needs a very solid structure. Who will provide?’

While Strick stayed in the luxurious Hotel Negresco, Genet preferred a ratty hotel he called the Horresco. He was clean and neat but always dressed in the same corduroy trousers, turtleneck sweater and black leather jacket. Genet wrote a long treatment, a detailed description of the action without dialogue. Two stumbling blocks were the character Roger’s self-castration, and the whole end of the play, which is not well integrated with the preceding scenes. In the final version the castration was indeed removed. Genet worked four hours a day. Strick wanted Genet to do a shooting script and promised to follow every shot, but Genet didn’t want to invest any more time in the project. He latter told Marianne de Pury that he found the collaboration very irritating. He was still working on The Screens. He did accept, however, the idea that The Balcony should take place in a film studio and not a whorehouse.

 
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Peter Falk as the Police Chief and Shelley Winters as Madame Irma in Strick’s ‘The Balcony’.
 
Ben Maddow was then employed to write the final script. The movie was then shot a very low budget, with the actors all working for minimum wage. Strick originally wanted Barbara Hepworth as Madame Irma, but she refused working for a minimum fee. Strick therefore approached the Hollywood star Shelley Winters to play the madame. Peter Falk, in only his second movie, agreed to play the Chief of Police, while future Mr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy played the role of Roger. Ruby Dee reprised her stage role as one of the prostitutes. Though considerably tamer than the Genet’s play, Strick still manages to maintain much of the play’s integrity. However, critics were mixed on the film’s release, with some papers, like The New York Times—quelle surprise—hating it. Watching it now, Strick made a bold and brave venture of a difficult and powerful drama.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Lee Marvin, Steve McQueen, Warren Oates and John Boorman at the ‘Point Blank’ wrap party
08.28.2014
07:44 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
John Boorman
Lee Marvin

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You can read all the self-help and how-to-succeed books you want, but sometimes success comes down to how you get on with other people.

The English director John Boorman had only directed one (flop) film, the sub-Beatles Dave Clark Five flick Catch Us If You Can, when he met Lee Marvin to discuss working on a film together. Marvin was at the top of the tree having just won several awards (including an Oscar) for his performance in Cat Ballou. The actor was in England working on his latest feature The Dirty Dozen when he had a discussion with Boorman about the possibility of making a film together based on Richard Stark’s novel The Hunter. There was a script, but neither Marvin or Boorman liked it much, both preferring Stark’s hard-edged loner Parker from the book, or as he was renamed in the screenplay, Walker.

For whatever reasons, the novice film director and the experienced actor hit it off, and Marvin agreed to appear in Boorman’s film—there was only one thing, he just didn’t want that script. In an interview between Boorman and Steven Soderbergh, the director recalled how the actor called a meeting with the film company’s head of studio, the film’s producers and himself, where Marvin asked if he had script approval? They told him, he did. Then Marvin asked if he had approval of the main casting? Again he was told he did. Then Lee Marvin did something extraordinary:

He said, “I defer all those approvals to John.” And he walked out. So on my very first film in Hollywood, I had final cut and I made use of it.

This is how John Boorman was able to make Point Blank the way he wanted to make it. The film established him as a powerful and visionary director, while his movie Point Blank was hailed by critics as a masterpiece, which has grown in reputation over the years, and is now listed as one of those [Pick a number] Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Success comes not from any dime store self-help book but from who you are and what talent you have, and sometimes from the people who like you.

This selection of seldom seen photographs come from the wrap party given for Point Blank at the Zoo club in Los Angeles, 1967.
 
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Lee Marvin arrives at the Zoo club with drink and cigarette to hand.
 
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Lee Marvin, John Boorman and Michelle Triola—who would later (unsuccessfully) sue the actor for palimony.
 
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Steve McQueen with then wife Neile McQueen (short dark hair). Note Burt Reynolds cuttin’ a rug.
 
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Marvin and Boorman horse around with Keenan Wynn.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘Wattstax’: The ‘Black Woodstock’ music festival


 
The Watts Riots are often referred to by lefties as “The Watts Rebellion.” While both are technically accurate descriptions, “rebellion” is considered the preferable word by sympathists, since “riot” has a negative connotation. For me, the word “riot” lacks any moralist stigma, since rioting has historically played a necessary role in the resistance of oppressed people. I also think “riots” paints a more identifiable picture.

In addition to less explicit economic discrimination, the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles was plagued with racist attacks from both white gangs and and a militarized police force (sound familiar?). The 1965 events that incited the riots are convoluted, but (briefly) a black man was arrested for driving under the influence, his brother (who was was a passenger), left to inform the man’s mother, who showed up to the arrest. There was a physical altercation, all three black citizens were arrested, and onlookers from the neighborhood began throwing things at the cops.

Eight days later, 34 deaths, 1,032 injuries and 3,952 arrests. 600 businesses were destroyed and over $40 million was done in damages over a 46-square mile-area.
 

 
In 1972, Stax Records put on a concert featuring their artists to commemorate the riots. Tickets for the Wattstax music festival (held in the massive L.A. Coliseum) were sold for $1 each to keep the event affordable for working class Los Angeles residents. Mel Stuart, who had just directed Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (a box-office bomb, despite its classic status), documented the concert in Wattstax, the electric results of which you see below. Wattstax has been shorthanded as “The Black Woodstock,” but it’s so much more.

The film is something greater than a record of fantastic concert footage, though the performances from artists like The Staples Singers, Isaac Hayes and The Bar-Kays are mind-blowing. It’s the interviews with Watts residents, who reflect on their lives and politics and what has and hasn’t changed since the riots, that really make the film. Richard Pryor serves as a kind of Greek chorus, and his interactions with the crowd are hilarious and full of humanity. You’ll notice that nearly the entire audience defiantly stays seated during Kim Weston’s rendition of the national anthem.

If you want a good clip to sample, there’s a fantastic bit starting around the 38:30 mark where Richard Pryor riffs on black identity (and pork). It then cuts to The Bar-Kays (looking like a heavenly choir from outer space), who do a blistering version of “Son of Shaft.”
 

 
Via Open Culture

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Behind-the-scenes of the ‘Star Wars’ Cantina bar set
08.27.2014
10:25 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Star Wars


 
Raiders of the Lost Tumblr has turned up a trove of behind-the-scenes shots of sets, models, sketches and costumes from Star Wars’ ultra seedy and memorable Mos Eisley Cantina scene. If you’re one of the very, very few living hominids who hasn’t seen the film, that scene was notable for showcasing an abundance of admirably insane character design, which served to underscore the impending over-the-rainbow life change awaiting the film’s naive farmboy hero.

The diversity of species on display even inspired a literary anthology of short stories starring characters from the scene, some of whom appear onscreen for all of two seconds. Sci-fi geeks, I doff my cap to you; you are a breed apart. The scene also boasted some darkly lunatic but indelibly catchy jazz, and served as the setting for the world’s introduction to Han Solo. No insipid “who shot first” debates here, please. It was Han. STFU, George, we have proof below.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
It’s a worthwhile trivia tangent to note that a hell of a lot of these characters were designed by Ron Cobb (seriously cool design and illustration gallery at that link, I urge you not to skip it). Though he’s probably best known as an editorial cartoonist—in fact, I credit him with the creation of one of the single most powerful and durable images in the long history of that form, the man searching for a place to plug in his broken TV set in a post apocalyptic landscape, reproduced below—Cobb played a large role in the design of the films Dark Star and Alien. He’s also the creator of that wonderfully shambolic psychedelic aircraft on the cover of The Jefferson Airplane’s After Bathing at Baxter’s.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
While you’re here, check out this early rough cut of the Cantina scene. This was once findable on the now long out-of-print Star Wars: Behind the Magic, a 1998 CD-ROM. Yes, CD-ROM.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
C-3PO rapping, but don’t worry, your childhood was already dead
12-hour ambient music pieces from ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘Alien,’ ‘Doctor Who,’ and ‘Star Wars’
Alec Guinness, a.k.a. Obi Wan Kenobi, kind of hated ‘Star Wars’
Behind-the-scenes photos of prototype Boba Fett costume, 1978

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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