True Grit, one of John Wayne’s most celebrated westerns, was released in 1969. The day it was released, it was already somewhat of an anachronism. The ’60s saw the western genre embrace more depth in its storytelling, something that was already common in many other genres. Before True Grit, there was the trilogy of films by Sergio Leone featuring Clint Eastwood as the man with no name. Just a week after True Grit was released, Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch hit theaters. The western has rarely been a genre that strived for realism, but the violence of The Wild Bunch was a direct challenge to a film like True Grit, where violence and death are done by rote, removing much emotional punch. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: True Grit (1969)”
We all have egos, right? There’s no use in pretending that we don’t. Personal and professional relationships can be thought of as a constant battle between our egos and our desire for successful interactions. In other words, not being a dick is learned behavior. I thought of this at the end of Bone Dry, a neo-noir flick released in 2007. That’s because right after the final shot of the film, the credits begin, and they read, “A Brett A. Hart Vision.” Oh, please. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Bone Dry”
One of the worst things that a filmmaker can do is fill their movie with vapid people. If there is any moment after these characters are introduced that requires audience empathy, the filmmaker might find that they have, instead, exhausted the patience of viewers. Such is the case with Alien Uprising, a film that showed a lot of promise, but ended up being just out of reach of its writer/director, Dominic Burns. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: Alien Uprising, aka U.F.O.”
Joe Don Baker is Buford Pusser, real-life Sheriff of McNairy County, Tennessee, in this violent drive-in classic from 1973. Directed by Phil Karlson, Walking Tall is the fictionalized account of one man’s war on crime in rural America.
After giving up his career as a wrestler and returning home with his wife, Pauline (Elizabeth Hartman), and kids to McNairy, Pusser finds that his home county has been invaded by organized crime. Gambling dens and houses of ill-repute have opened in the once-lazy locale, and Pusser doesn’t hold with any of that. After getting angry and trying to beat up an entire casino, Pusser is cut to ribbons and left for dead on the side of the road. But, the bad folks of McNairy underestimated Pusser’s resolve. Being almost murdered just made Pusser angrier, and he continues going after the criminal element. Continue reading “Empty Balcony: Walking Tall (1973)”
What a piece of trash. I’ve written before that it’s folly to impose present morality on the past, and that includes living memory. But in this day and age, should someone try and make a film like Caged Heat, they might end up having to register as a sex offender. At the very least, Twitter would be apoplectic…for perhaps a week, before moving on to the next outrage.
From 1974, Caged Heat was future Oscar winner Jonathan Demme’s first foray in the director’s chair. Before this, he had written and produced a pair of exploitation flicks for Roger Corman and New World Pictures. This flick is also part of the Corman stable, although one won’t find his name in the credits. His fingerprints are all over it, though. From the gratuitous nudity that crosses over into crudity, to the pervading cheapness in fealty to ruthless cost-cutting, this is as much a Corman as a Demme flick.
Also written by Demme, Caged Heat follows the trials and tribulations of the inmates of the Connerville Correctional Institute for Women. Demme may have ‘written’ a ‘screenplay,’ but putting any effort into following the plot is a waste of time for the viewer. The story is just about the least important and engaging aspect of this flick. The purpose of this film was to make a quick buck by satisfying the more animalistic desires of its viewers. There is plenty of full-frontal nudity to satisfy all the young, teenaged boy’s desire for the female figure, should they not have had an older brother with a Penthouse stashed behind his headboard. I counted four(!) shower scenes. Of course, I’m writing of the past. The internet has made pseudo-smut like this unnecessary, and somewhat quaint. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Caged Heat”