Extreme Cinema! “Is It Safe?”

Would ya do me a kindness? Don’t slam the fuckin’ door!

So, we usually talk about movie directors on the fringe with their respective peers. The first episode we recorded was about the deceased David A. Prior, low-to-no budget filmmaker, Deadly Prey and The Deadliest Prey. Fred Olen Ray, Mark Goldblatt, Rowdy Herrington. Tonight, we’re talking about an Academy-fuck-Award winner, John Schlesinger. Midnight Cowboy. Billy Liar. Far from the Madding Crowd. Sunday Bloody Sunday, and the four movies we’ll talk about tonight. I think we both agreed on Schlesinger because you put forth Eye for an Eye as a prime example of exploitation film-making. Upon further analysis, we saw a very eclectic, unusual, iconoclastic film-making career. Mr. Schlesinger passed away July, 2003, but his work remains for us to dissect. He truly was a maverick film director, along the lines of a Sam Peckinpah or a Bernard Rose.

We were messaging the other day and you wrote something interesting: “Schlesinger reminds me of another director we’ve always kind of made fun of…a guy with very few (if any) common threads among a varied body of work, with some ‘classics’ under his belt and a bunch of mediocre warmed over, but technically competent other stuff.

Let’s get to know the man, and we’ll start with Marathon Man from 1976.

“Why don’t you just try acting?”

Marathon Man is famous in acting circles for an often quoted and misquoted exchange between Hoffman and Olivier concerning a perceived difference in their approaches to acting. Hoffman later set the record straight in a retrospective interview, explaining:

“When we got back to Los Angeles [Olivier] said, ‘How did your week go, dear boy?’ And I told him we did this scene where the character I was playing was supposed to be up for three days. He says, ‘So what did you do?’ I say, ‘Well I stayed up for three days and three nights.’ And [Olivier’s] famous line was, ‘Why don’t you just try acting?’ … It became kind of legend. It’s been quoted so many times, at least in the acting circles. And the truth is I was the first one to quote that line … They leave out the reality and just put in what feels more provocative or a better story. And what accompanied him saying ‘Why don’t you just try acting?’ … He laughed, because he said, you know, “I’m one to talk.” And then he was actually the first one that told me about risking his life every night jumping whatever it was twenty feet in the last act of Hamlet. And the truth of it is I didn’t just stay up three days and three nights for the scene; it was a good excuse, because these were the days of wine and roses in Studio 54″.
— Hoffman, Dustin (Actor). Marathon Man (DVD).

Moving on to 1996’s Eye for an Eye starring Sally Field, Ed Harris, and Kiefer Sutherland.  Ed Harris and Sally Field were both in Places in the Heart. Nice to see Beverly D’Angelo, who was also in Pacific Heights, directed by Schlesinger. So far, scenes of a bucolic life with twinkly music. I get the feeling this is going to be bad.  This is a bit much. Sally’s daughter is being attacked while on the phone with her mother. We can’t get a good look at the attacker. We have a big panic situation, much like Marathon Man. This is effective but weird. Here we have an ice sculpture killing a woman instead of a coffee machine. They should really outlaw these things!

Written by David Lawler and Andrew La Ganke.
“Love Theme from Extreme Cinema” composed and performed by Alex Saltz.
Introduction written by Bronwyn Knox.
Narrator, “The Voice”: Valerie Sachs.
Artwork by Bronwyn Knox.
Head Title Washer: Ben Lauter.

Running Time: 1:36:46

Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All music clips appear under Fair Use as well. If you’re thinking of suing because you want a piece of the pie, please remember, there is no actual pie. We at BlissVille have no money, and as such, cannot compensate you. If anything, we’re doing you a favor, so please be kind. We do this ’cause it’s fun, and nothing else.

 

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“‘M’ for Mankind”

This is rare that we have two stone-cold classics in “The Obsolete Man” starring our old friend, Burgess Meredith, the second season finale of Twilight Zone, and then we wrap it up tonight with “Two”, the third season premiere of Twilight Zone starring Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery. I couldn’t finish this season with only the one episode, as there were 29 episodes produced, so we had an odd number and decided to kick off the third season. I’m very happy to be joined by Mark Jeacoma, who stepped in and saved my ass for the episodes, “Mr. Dingle, the Strong” and “Static” – that was the favor, and this is the job, so I assigned him two, in my opinion, gold-standard episodes of Twilight Zone.

So here we are, at the end of this season, and we start with “The Obsolete Man” written by Rod Serling, directed Elliot Silverstein, starring Burgess Meredith and Fritz Weaver. This is a heavy-handed episode. You have this stark, expressionist lighting scheme in, I presume, a courtroom, some court of final judgment where Burgess is being tried or sentenced to death for the crime of being “obsolete”, the definition of which is no longer in use or no longer useful. I don’t know how they come to that conclusion, other than that he leads a insular existence in a furnished room, reading books, reading the Bible, and really he doesn’t seem to be bothering anybody, right?

Apparently this is a crime in this alternate universe. This is obviously a totalitarian regime, and the uniforms resemble those worn by Nazis or other types of fascist leaderships. Visually, the palette resembles Hitler, standing at an enormous podium or lecturn, high above the masses; Fritz Weaver appears as a god-like figure to the defiant Burgess Meredith.

Next up is “Two” starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Charles Bronson, before they became famous icons, courtesy Bewitched and Death Wish (interesting mash-up: “Deathwitched”). It’s Mark’s theory that we are witness to another alternate universe. It’s my supposition that we have a Cold War allegory extended into an undetermined future. Both theories work. I love both of these episodes; both expertly well-done. “Two’s” writer/director Montgomery Pittman would make another episode, “The Grave”, in the third season (but shot for the second season) starring a Who’s Who of actors from westerns.

Don’t forget to visit Mark’s sites, VHS Rewind! with Chris Hasler and On The Odd with Alex Saltz – it’s good stuff!

Written by David Lawler
Additional Commentary by Mark Jeacoma
Original Music by Alex Saltz, APS Mastering
Introduction Music: “You’re the One That I Want” (John Farrar).
Audio Clips: “The Obsolete Man”, “Two”

Recorded September 1, 2016

© BlissVille, David Lawler copyright 2016 for all original vocal and audio content featuring David Lawler and selected guests each episode. Original Music © Alex Saltz copyright 2015. This podcast, “That Twilighty Show About That Zone” is not affiliated with CBS Entertainment, the CBS Television Network, or The Rod Serling Estate. Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All music clips appear under Fair Use as well. If you’re thinking of suing because you want a piece of the pie, please remember, there is no actual pie. We at BlissVille have no money, and as such, cannot compensate you. If anything, we’re doing you a favor, so please be kind. I do this ’cause it’s fun, and nothing else.

Running Time: 33:36

“The Eve Of The End”

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Written by David Lawler
Additional Commentary by Bronwyn Knox
Original Music by Alex Saltz, APS Mastering
Introduction Music: “Seen But Not Seen” (David Byrne, Brian Eno, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth) by Talking Heads (from the 1980 album “Remain In Light”).
Audio Clips: The Late Show With Stephen Colbert “The Twilight Zone: Just The Twists”, The Incredible Hulk Series Pilot, “The Gunslinger” (a 1956 film directed by Roger Corman), “Sixteen Candles” (a 1984 film directed by John Hughes), Star Trek “The Return of the Archons”, “Vampire In Brooklyn (a 1995 film directed by Wes Craven), “Dr Strangelove: or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb” (a 1964 film directed by Stanley Kubrick), Family Guy “Believe It Or Not, Joe’s Walking On Air”, “The Four Of Us Are Dying”, “Third From The Sun”.

Recorded February 5, 2016

© BlissVille, David Lawler copyright 2016 for all original vocal and audio content featuring David Lawler and selected guests each episode. Original Music © Alex Saltz copyright 2015. This podcast, “That Twilighty Show About That Zone” is not affiliated with CBS Entertainment, the CBS Television Network, or The Rod Serling Estate. Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All music clips appear under Fair Use as well. If you’re thinking of suing because you want a piece of the pie, please remember, there is no actual pie. We at BlissVille have no money, and as such, cannot compensate you. If anything, we’re doing you a favor, so please be kind. I do this ’cause it’s fun, and nothing else.

Running Time: 36:33 Direct Download