Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014 - John Knight ""

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014 - John Knight

John Knight is a Muswell Hillbilly by birth now retired living in the Isle Of Wight Lifelong film-freak and regular contributor (and hi-jacker) to the following blogs:

The blog run by the esteemed and very well informed Laura, plus Fifties Westerns From The Fifties and Riding The High Country.

QUIET PLEASE, MURDER 1942 Dir: John Larkin
George Sanders, Gail Patrick, Richard Denning.

A murder mystery set in a library..how exciting does that sound! Well very exciting when you have elements including a priceless Shakespeare manuscript, a Sadomasochistic villain,with a slinky Femme Fatale assistant,plus sinister Nazi agents and an even more sinister mute assassin.
Lots of Freudian stuff especially for a 1942 flick. The film even delves into dark territory later fully developed in Cronenberg's CRASH. Sanders must be the only villain in movie history who not only relishes getting caught but also executed!
Stylishly shot by Joe MacDonald.

MAD AT THE WORLD 1955 Dir: Harry Essex
Frank Lovejoy, Keefe Brasselle, Cathy O Donnell, Karen Sharpe.

Early vigilante flick and a starting point to what would follow. Brasselle and O Donnell's baby is fatally wounded by a street gang. Brasselle then goes on the rampage.
This film is far from perfect, the "kids" in the film are far to long in the tooth!
Well shot with gritty realism by William Snyder. Best thing in the whole film is a great performance from Karen Sharpe, who plays a gang associate who really fancies Brasselle.
Sharp comes across as sassy,street-smart but vulnerable at the same time.
Certainly worth a look if you can track it down.

MR HORN (T.V. Movie) 1979 Dir: Jack Starrett
Davis Carradine, Richard Widmark, Karen Black.

This epic,three hour made for TV film had super production values. Sensational performances from Carradine and Widmark First half of the film has them dealing with Geronimo. Second half is even better as it details Tom Horn becoming a
killer for hire to wealthy cattle barons,and his decline into alcoholism. More a collection of vignettes than a narrative whole but it's a format that really works.
Very pro Native American and anti militaristic.
Great William Goldman script and directed by the underrated and interesting Starrett.
The Starrett Seventies flick I REALLY want is THE GRAVY TRAIN (1974) (aka The Dion Brothers) This little gem had the sublime trio of Stacey Keach, Frederic Forrest
and Margo Kidder,in their prime,at the top of their game.

CATTLE ANNIE AND LITTLE BRITCHES (1981) Dir: Lamont Johnson
Burt Lancaster, Rod Steiger, Scott Glenn, Amanda Plummer, Diane Lane.

Neglected gem about the final days of Doolin-Dalton gang.
Sadly the only DVD available of this film is on the French Sidonis imprint.
Even sadder Sidonis have "forced" French subtitles on the English Language version on the disc.
It's a wonderful Western which as Mr Maltin correctly states was "thrown away" by Universal at the time.
Lancaster and a non-hammy Steiger are sensational.
Lovely Durango locations and proof that you can make a gritty authentic Western without blood-splattering gore!
Underrated Amanda Plummer is a force of nature in this film which should have reached a far wider audience.
Super folk Bluegrass soundtrack as well.
This film REALLY needs a Blu-Ray release.

And finally one Re-Discovery....

ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE (1973) Dir: James William Guerico
Robert Blake, Mitchell Ryan, Billy Green Bush, Royal Dano, Elisha Cook.

I remember this film from 40 years ago and finally picked up the Blu-Ray.
It's a Road Movie, Biker Flick, Cop Movie, Western.
Strikingly shot by Conrad Hall.
Music producer Guerico's only shot at direction and his film is stunning. Wonderful performances from Robert Blake and Mitchell Ryan and a beauty of a cameo from the great Royal Dano.
On the Australian Blu Ray from Shock Media there is a short interview with Guercio who explains that the film was blocked at Cannes as it was considered "Fascistic".
I guess that was mainly due to the political climate at the time.
Certainly the film is the antithesis of EASY RIDER and for me, at least Guercio's film is the far more interesting of the two.

4 comments:

Servo086 said...

Blake has a very interesting history of this film was !Ade, and how much better it could have been. He went into it in his book. Have you read the segment on Electra Glide in Blue? Any thoughts if you have?

Laura said...

John, thanks so much for the mention in your bio, my blog wouldn't be the same without your contributions!

I loved your list. QUIET PLEASE - MURDER is a really wild film -- I think I watched half of it with my jaw dropped as I couldn't believe some of the stuff that was happening in a '40s film LOL.

Best wishes,
Laura

john knight said...

Servo086,
I had no idea that the Robert Blake book was available,
thank you so much for pointing that out.
At a B Movie convention in London several years back.
Peggy Stewart was the special guest.
Peggy is a long-time friend of Blake's from their B
Western days.
Peggy explained while Blake was incarcerated Anthony
Hopkins used to go visit him. According to Peggy the
pair used to read passages of Moby Dick to each other!

Laura,
Thank you so much for the kind words and also the link
mentioned on your blog.
I guess with QUIET,PLEASE MURDER a lot of the Freudian
stuff just went right over the censor's head :)

livius1 said...

Lovely selection, John. You were singing the praises of Mad at the World over at my place recently and it has me interested. Also, Quiet Please, Murder sounds absolutely fascinating.

And thanks for plugging my site in your bio/intro - appreciated.

Colin