Rupert Pupkin Speaks: My Favorite Older Films Seen First in 2011 ""

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Favorite Older Films Seen First in 2011

I really enjoy making this list. It's one of my favorite things. I feel that end-of-the-year pressure to try to catch up on the new films that came out, but for me this time is reserved for older fare(always trying my best to squeeze in a few more right up through New Years Eve). I love all the lists that I've been able to post so far from film folks I respect and am looking forward to more. I really appreciate the love and attention that lists like these bring to non-new cinema. This is why I love(and mention below) sites like Trailers from Hell & Warner Archives who certainly make it their mission to keep older movies alive in the public consciousness. Films can be so easily forgotten these days as we find ourselves overwhelmed and knee-deep in media of all kinds. It is always nice to have reminders. Though 2011 was a much slower movie watching year for me than 2010, there is still much to recommend. As per my usual problem, I had trouble limiting the number of titles I listed. Not all of these films are masterworks of celluloid, but they all entertained or engaged me in a big way. Where I could, I have listed available sources for viewing each film. There are about 10 titles you can watch right now on Netflix Instant should you be interested.
(P.S. - If you're interested, here is my list from last year as well)

I am really quite a big fan of Bob Hope. Ever since I heard Woody Allen mention him as an influence, I've sought out his films. This is a silly one I hadn't seen. Great ending bit with some cameos. (Netflix)

Low budget WTF territory. (VHS)

Saw this with my son as part of the Grindhouse Festival screenings Tarantino ran at the New Beverly this year. Good Stuff.

Sharp pre-code flick revealed to me in Peary's Cult Movies 2.

Most 'killer kid' movies annoy me in a big way. This one was gnarly enough to hold my interest & then some and is probably my favorite of the genre. Certainly falls under the category of "they don't make 'em like this anymore". Julie Brown!

Lorenzo Lamas freestyles. There is also breakdancing. Need I say more?

Very affable William Friedkin caper-comedy. Cast is aces. (Netflix)

Good showcase for Beau Bridges(who I feel is underrated). Script by Floyd Mutrux and you can feel it. Nice snapshot of 1970s Los Angeles(I've found Mutrux has a great sense of L.A. locations). From director James Frawley of THE MUPPET MOVIE fame.

Crackling Dick Powell noir. Seek it out. (

I had wanted to see this Polanksi's arthouse gem for some time(ever since I saw it mentioned in Peary's Guide for the Film Fanatic). Odd, strange & surreal. Takes a bit to get going, but picks up a bit in the last third. The trio of Donald Pleasance, Lionel Stander and the lovely Francoise Dorleac are quite a treat. (Netflix)

To describe it as batshit crazy is a disservice. Oddly, the 2nd Billy Jacoby movie on my list(BLOODY BIRTHDAY being the 1st). (VHS)

Yet another film that has somehow eluded me for years. Very intriguing American version of a Giallo-type story. Remarkable cast. Script by John Carpenter.

Edgar Wright's debut is quirky and funny in a way few first films are. A solid low-budget spoof. Well worth a look to see his burgeoning sensibilities. (

Shocking as it may be, I had never seen this film in its entirety until this year. Pretty appalling for a hard core Beatles fan to admit this, but I am glad I finally made the time. The blu-ray was gorgeous and the film is marvelous of course. Allan Arkush discusses it at Trailers from Hell. (Netflix)

Attempted at least 1/2 a dozen times over the years, but never made it through(often started it late at night). Very interesting stream of consciousness experiment. Nice to see this film got the Criterion treatment.

Watched this film on a recommend from Joe Dante. Very neat low budget time travel film directed by Peter Fonda. Feels like it might have had some small influence on PRIMER.

Tight little mystery yarn directed by Michael Curtiz(who I am more a fan of all the time) with the inimitable William Powell at the center. An obvious choice for fans of THE THIN MAN series. Also with Mary Astor and Eugene Pallette(always good) Top 10-er. (Netflix)

George C. Scott is a retired getaway driver living in Portugal. He decides takes on one last job to see if he's still got it. Richard Fleischer replaced John Huston as director. Screenplay by Alan Sharp(who also wrote NIGHT MOVES among others).
DVD out from Warner Archive.

Certainly among my favorites all year. Borzage is a director I've really only come to discover in the past few years and he continues to impress.

A tough watch in parts, but I found it worthwhile for the performances of Keaton and Gere.

Richard Chamberlain tries to find and stop a killer who uses phones to do his dirty work. BTSJunkie speaks more eloquently of it on his list. (VHS)

My first viewing of this absolutely magical Miyazaki film was made all the more special in that was also my little girl's introduction and it quickly became one of her favorite films.

Thoroughly engrossing soaper. Hooked me much more than I thought it would. Easily near the top for me in 2011. Another spot-on recommend from Mr. Peary.

Pretty gory underseen 80s slasher.

Heston hams it up as Buffalo Bill Cody while Forrest Tucker rolls as Wild Bill Hickok. Darned entertaining. Top 10 material for me. (

REMOTE CONTROL(1988) This may be a cheat. I thought I had seen this before but when I watched it again most everything seemed unfamiliar. Perhaps my mind is going. Director Jeff Lieberman(SQUIRM, JUST BEFORE DAWN, BLUE SUNSHINE) creates a silly but fun BODY SNATCHERS by way of VIDEODROME-type scenario. Several months before Johnny Drama rocked it in the excellent remake of THE BLOB, he appeared as a resourceful video store clerk here. Also stars Jennifer Tilly and Deborah Goodrich(APRIL FOOLS DAY, JUST ONE OF THE GUYS). A nice double with THE VIDEO DEAD(1987). (VHS)

Very gratifying and underrated James Cagney western. Directed by the one and only Mr. Nicholas Ray. (

Dorothy Mackaill is a gorgeous ball of fire in this pre-code rarity helmed by William Wellman. Powerful stuff. Need to see more of Mackaill's films. This is a top ten pick for sure.
Out on DVD from Warner Archive.

Ridiculously charming film. Please check out what my friend Ned Merrill had to say in his mention of it on his list. Yet another great recommend I got from him. Top 3.

An influence on RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and you can tell. The Hest is pretty skeezy in this one. (

Another musical curiosity that I'd never seen in it's entirety. Being a big Beatles and Bee Gees fanatic, even as silly & nonsensical as the film is, I found it pretty charming. Also, Barry Gibb punches Alice Cooper. There's something enjoyable yet metaphorically inverted about that.

I should have seen this the minute after I watched KUNG FU HUSTLE and loved it so much. Ludicrous that I waited.

THEM (2006) ILS
Chilling home invasion horror. (

Another Joe Dante favorite. Covered by Ib Melchior over at Trailers from Hell.

Watched this after hearing it played BNAT 2010. Wallace Beery is outstanding and Fay Wray is always a delight. (

Obscure Made-For-TV movie starring Martin Landau as a Vietnam Vet. Plays like a Twilight Zone. Larry Karaszewski turned me onto this one when I interviewed him for the GGTMC. Check out his stuff on Trailers From Hell. Always worthwhile.

A riotous romp. Amazing stunt work(not as good as POLICE STORY, but really solid and fun).

Perhaps my favorite of the year(right up there with NOW, VOYAGER). Outstanding double role by Edward G. Robinson. Jean Arthur is great too. A rare John Ford comedy I enjoyed very much. My son really loved this one. I read about it over at
The Horn Section. (VHS)


Justin Bozung said...

great list bud...I'm a huge fan as well of Idaho Transfer....Justin

btsjunkie said...

Which version of SHAOLIN SOCCER did you watch? Hopefully the original Chinese cut! I love the heart and soul in SS, something that, while I loved the cartoon fun action, I felt was very lacking in KUNG FU HUSTLE. I highly recommend going back through Chow's older work if you haven't already. Especially GOD OF COOKERY and FORBIDDEN CITY COP. Oh and FROM BEIJING WITH LOVE!

Scott M said...

Great stuff! So much for me to track down.

I am a huuuuuge fan of Head. Saw it at a local rep theatre as a 12 year old in mid-80s. Had a gootleg VHS copy for years that eventually snapped. Love the editing in the dance sequence. I assigned it to SHOWSHOW to do as a commentary.

Awesome job compiling all of these lists - all the best to you this year!

SteveQ said...

Great list! Cul-de-Sac is one of my faves, though Jack MacGowran does little but die - slowly - in it. Attack of the Beast Creatures is so wonderfully inept; my favorite part is right at the start when the Titanic survivors, somehow in the tropics, toss dry ice in the water for reasons not clearly explained... but then, maybe that's just me.

Ned Merrill said...

Wow, so many great ones on this list. Quite a few I must still see for the first time and several I saw for the first time in 2011 as well, including the sublime SAILOR'S LUCK.

REMOTE CONTROL...ha!...I remember seeing that when it was on the new release shelf in '87 or '88...loved it then. I wonder how it would look now?

BLOOD MONEY is essential Pre-Code from the enigmatic Rowland Brown...I finally caught up with his first feature, QUICK MILLIONS, this year.

You beat me to CHRISTIAN LICORICE STORE!...perhaps that will make my '12 list.

THE LAST RUN was one of my favorite discoveries last, too, as well as GOODBAR, LAURA MARS, and SAFE IN was hard not include some of these on my own list.

Need to see this JOHNNY BRISTOL, BRINK'S JOB, and RUN FOR COVER, which has been burning in a hole in my Netflix queue for awhile. Great stuff, once again, Rupe!

Ned Merrill said...

Oh, and ILS is really quite chilling, I agree. Better than the American great surprise there.

Rupert Pupkin said...

ustin-thanks man! Much appreciated! I am quite sure you will(and already have) offer some nice recommends this year that will clearly be fodder for my 2012 list!

BTSJunkie-Damn man, watched the dvd released by Miramax. No good? I will totally be digging into more Chow this year! I have a copy of GOD OF COOKERY already and will seek out your other suggestions for sure!

Scott-Thanks sir! Yeah so funny that it took me so long to finally see HEAD and HARD DAYS NIGHT. Very interesting to watch both last year. Best to you too sir! Your list will be posted soon I promise! thanks again for that!

Steve-CUL DE SAC had been on my list for so long. Really intriguing watch. Yeah there is so much to love about AoTBC. Just a stunning achievement.

Ned-I really have to thank you again sir! As you can see, your influence can be felt on many of the selections for my list, some of which were among my favorites of 2011(Just as with SHOOT THE MOON in 2010!). I will certainly look to you in 2012 for more ideas!

Jeremy Wheeler said...

Fantastic list. Love to see people discover Body Rock! I once made a 12'x8' boombox stage set in homage to the one at the end of Body Rock (sadly, the tape ejector did not come down allowing for body-stocking ladies to crawl out of it). Also made a blacklight poster half-inspired by the awesome day-glo dance sequence in the movie. Otherwise, great to see Eyes of Laura Mars on there. Did you ever finish Nightflyers?

Anonymous said...

Totoro, Eyes of Laura Mars, Safe in Hell...some of my all-time FAVES!!!
As for Cry Danger, here's a heads' up- UCLA just did the most exquiiiiisite restoration of that for the Film Noir Fest a year or 2 back. The print was just edible. And the woman who headed up that project is remarkably skilled. If you get a chance to see it in person, I highly recommend it. So worthwhile!

Hal said...

And I thought *I* was busy last year. :)

I have been trying to find WELCOME HOME JOHNNY BRISTOL for a -long- time to review it on the blog. Remember it being really good but I haven't seen it in 20 years.

Lots of great stuff on the list! I agree that Beau is underrated, and I really need to see BRINK'S JOB again among others, haven't revisited it in some time.

btsjunkie said...

The Miramax DVD should have given you the option to watch the original Chinese cut. Did it have a B&W opening scene? The changes are significant (original is 102 mins, American cut 80). If you happened to watched the chopped version and liked it that much, you're going to flip for the original cut!!

Rupert Pupkin said...

Jeremy- too too kind sir! Found BODY ROCK through the my friends at the GGTMC Podcast. A true classic. Your BoomBox Stage set is AMAZING! Truly a thing of beauty! Never finished NIGHTFLYERS(kind of a dull start, but I may just have been tired). Will try to get to it in 2012. It has a lot going for it, not the least of which is Catherine Mary Stewart(which is enough).

sinaphile-I absolutely fell in love with TOTORO this year.My little girl's affection for a movie has that effect on me. I even have favorite lines that I say out loud to her each time we watch("No squirrels are better!" for example). Ned Merrill brought my attention to SAFE IN HELL actually and I am so glad he did. What a stunner! Very cool news about CRY DANGER and the UCLA restoration. I really must go if it shows there again!

Rupert Pupkin said...

Hal-Not as busy as I was in 2010 sadly. Only watched about half as many films in 2011, but still dug out some fun stuff.
JOHNNY BRISTOL totally feels like something I'd read about at your blog. You'd love it.

BTS-OK then yeah I think we watched the longer cut(recall it being longer than 80 mins) and I believe it had the opening you speak of. That's one I need to buy!

KC said...

Finally someone gives Body Rock some love! It's worth seeing for that crazy leather, or whatever, coat alone.

rrrkitchen said...

Hey Rupe,

Cool list. Congrats on seeing Hard Day's Night, a film I've loved for years, and paid big bucks for it on VHS back in the day. You're a brave fellow to confess to having enjoyed The Bee Gees "Sgt Pepper". I saw this in the cinema on the weekend of its release, desperate to see anything Beatles related. I'm sorry, but I thought this was (being polite) the most disappointing film I'd ever seen. Not even George Burns or Steve Martin made me smile. Have you ever seen a film called "All This and World War 2"? Like Pepper it uses various artists to sing Beatles tunes, but features the music over WW2 archive footage to tell the story of the war. Peculiar, but worth a view.

Anyway, have a great 2012, and I'll be checking back to your blog.


Rupert Pupkin said...

KC- BODY ROCK needs more love worldwide! So much brilliance.

Maurice-Heard of ALL THIS AND WORLD WAR 2 but never seen. Will seek it out. As for SGT PEPPERS, I gotta say I knew the film's rep going as being truly awful and it is, don't get me wrong. There was just something compelling to me about the mess that the film is. It's silly and strange and barely makes sense at all. And there's Beatles music playing throughout which is pleasant enough. Plus I love the Bee Gees so just seeing them try to act was fun. Also hearing their versions of Beatles songs was neat for me. But yeah the film is just ridiculous. Just made my wife and I chuckle a bit. It's just one of those rare times when a whole bunch of money was thrown at a film and it was made on a large scale and they just missed the mark. Interesting failures should be a list of favorites I do at some point. Sometimes it's just compelling enough for me to see a bad movie made on a grand scale. Most recently SOUTHLAND TALES comes to mind. Another mess of a film, but there is just something about it that has brought me back a few times.