Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Dramas - Laird Jimenez ""

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Favorite Underrated Dramas - Laird Jimenez

Laird worked in video stores and film archives and is now a video editor for Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas.
Follow him on Twitter at @Pobrecito and Letterboxd:

Park Row(1952; Samuel Fuller)
Sam Fuller's love letter to the era of journalism that shaped his professional life. It's the Citizen Kane of newspaper movies (ha-ha. But seriously, Park Row should be considered in the same esteem).

Confessions of a Police Captain(1971; Damiano Damiani)
Damiano Damiani slips through the cracks of esteemed Italian genre directors for not being particularly lurid or stylish, which is a shame because he's extremely gifted. Confessions of a Police Captain I watched expecting a violent thriller such as those directed by Fernando di Leo, Umberto Lenzi and Enzo Castellari (to name a few fan favorites), but instead got a tense political drama that is more comparable to Hands Over the City than The French Connection (though later Damiani directed a movie with the English title The Pizza Connection). If for no other reason, watch it to see Martin Basalm and Franco Nero acting together.

Fellini's Casanova(1976; Federico Fellini)
Not usually considered one of Fellini's best, but it's my favorite. Fellini frames the Casanova story as an Italian sex comedy, but then turns it into tragedy by reimagining Casanova's exploits not as romantic, but pathetic. All he wants to do is to be respected for his intellect and to be loved in return, but all the world wants from his is to "do it" on command. Typically masterful compositions and design by Fellini and one of my favorite Nino Rota scores as well.

Emma Mae(1976; Jamaa Fanaka)
Jamaa Fanaka is more widely known for his wild, genre output like Welcome Home Brother Charles, Street Wars, and the Penitentiary series, but this is a straight up social-realist drama. Exploitatively re-titled Black Sister's Revenge, this movie about the developing social conscience of a rural black girl as she experiences the racial and gender biases of the big city must have really disappointed those hoping for something like Coffy or Foxy Brown. There is a tiny bit of violence and baddassery, but far more screentime is given to watching family members interact at a kitchen table or in a bedroom in a very natural manner. Outside of Killer of Sheep, very few movies from this period grant this respectful view of African Americans' domestic and social life. The fact that this is able to do so and still have a badass heroine makes it both unique and invaluable.

On the Bowery(1956; Lionel Rogosin)
Blends fiction and reality in a way that makes it formally way ahead of its time. Even though it's set in the very real world, it seems to take place on a planet populated only by drunk men who are all over the age of 50. You can smell the spilled beer and urine. Somehow it's not totally depressing.

The End of Man (Finis Hominis)(1971; Jose Mojica Marins)
Jose Mojia Marins is best known for his character Coffin Joe, but in this odd departure from horror (and porn), Marins invents a messiah character who appears from the sea and goes around Brazil performing miracles (and exposing hypocrisy and arbitrariness of values in contemporary society). If you like the sections of Coffin Joe movies and interviews when he gets all preachy, you'll love this.
(available on DVD here:

Five dramas with Jeff Bridges that are underrated: Fat City, Cutter's Way, Bad Company, The Iceman Cometh, and Winter Kills.


SteveQ said...

There's a deleted scene from Casanova on YouTube with the infamous Chesty Morgan. Fellini always did like odd physiques.

laird said...

Whoah, I'll have to look that up!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting list...Emma Mae is definitely one I want to catch up on.

This is a wonderful themed series. Thanks for providing.

sleestakk said...

Cool list, Laird, and all but one I need to view.