Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014 - Larry Karaszewski ""

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Favorite Film Discoveries of 2014 - Larry Karaszewski

I am honored again this year to have Larry Karaszewski contribute a list to this series and it is a list that I always look forward to reading. Karaszewski is one of my favorite screenwriters and a true cinephile's cinephile. He and Scott Alexander have collaborated on many memorable screenplays including one of my personal favorites, Tim Burton's movie ED WOOD. Larry and Scott did the script for Burton's new film BIG EYES as well, which opened in theaters on December 25th. It's very good and very much in line with Larry and Scott's other films (MAN ON THE MOON, PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT, ED WOOD). Go see it!!
I had the distinct privilege of interviewing him for the GGTMC podcast back in 2011 and it was one of my favorite interviews that I've ever done. I could immediately tell I'd found a kindred spirit in the affection for similar kinds of cinema when I spoke to him. Larry was also gracious enough to allow me to interview him for the Danny Peary documentary I have been working on. He has also been extremely generous in helping me set up other interviews for the doc as well. Just an all around lovely guy and a passionate film lover.
If you haven't checked out some of his Trailers from Hell commentaries you are truly missing out. Do yourself a favor and clear out an hour or two for his wonderful enlightening insights.

Also have a peek at Larry's discoveries list from last year:
14 for 14
Here's a list of 14 old movies that I saw and dug for the first time this year.  Some under appreciated gems here: 

Get Crazy (1983; Alan Arkush)
Watched it appropriately on News Years Day. What a hoot!  R.I.P. Lou Reed.  Director Allan Arkush's second rock n roll classic.  Someone rescue this from obscurity and get it out on DVD.
Shoot First, Die Later (1974; Fernando Di Leo)
Never saw a Fernando Di Leo film. Now I want to see 'em all. This Italian 1970s cop picture has a gritty "Serpico" "French Connection" vibe... Just a little nastier.

If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969; Mel Stuart)
All hail Mel Stuart.  C'mon - he directed "Willy Wonka" and "Wattstax"... How crazy is that. This doesn't reach those heights, but it does have Suzanne Pleshette at her absolute loveliest

The Holy Mountain (1973; Alejandro Jodorowsky)
Watching clips in the Jodorowsky doc made me rush out to see this.  Wow.  Out of its mind.  I was completely engrossed from the first frame.  A wild and beautifully designed film.

Jeopardy (1953; John Sturges)
Tight Barbara Stanwyck noir with a great turn by Ralph Meeker as an escaped killer.  Like the best of Stanwyck, an unflinching look at female power dynamics.  Directed with speed by John Sturges.

Something Wild (1961; Jack Garfein)
Another gritty performance from Ralph Meeker.  Before this year I didn't even know I liked him. Critic Kim Morgan turned me onto this one - she is a big champion of director Jack Garfein.  Great early New York indie filmmaking.

Who Killed Teddy Bear? (1965; Joseph Cates)
More 1960s New York indie noir.  This time with Sal Mineo, Juliet Prowse, and Elaine Stritch as a night club owner with a lesbian flair.  We lost Elaine this year... She was the best.  Jan Murray and Bruce Glover also show up in the cast. Worth tracking down.

That's The Way Of The World (1975; Sig Shore)
Earth Wind and Fire's Purple Rain.  But for some reason it's more about Harvey Keitel and Bert Parks' family music act.  A fascinating time capsule of the mid 1970s music industry.

The Last Run (1971; Richard Fleischer)
This George C Scott movie from 1971 has a weak reputation, but I loved it.  John Huston started it, Richard Fleischer finished it.  Perfect behind the scenes line up.  Sven Nykvist shot,  Jerry Goldsmith scored, Alan Sharp wrote.  Co stars both wives of Mr Scott: Colleen Dewhurst and Trish Van Devere.  Feels like a lost Jean-Pierre Melville film.

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956; Nunnally Johnson)
The original Mad Men.  Based on a huge 1950s novel that capture the zeitgeist - "The Bonfire of the Vanities" of the post war era.  The movie is written, produced, and directed by Nunnally Johnson.  Johnson was a former newspaper man who had a long, long career - beginning in silents and ending with the one two punch of "The World of Henry Orient" and "The Dirty Dozen".  Features a strong Gregory Peck performance.

My Name is Julia Ross (1945; Joseph H. Lewis)
Joseph Lewis is great director - This noir and the amazing "Gun Crazy".  Film has a gothic mood and a complex lead in Nina Foch.

Across 110th Street (1972; Barry Shear)
You know the Bobby Womack song, now see the film.  Sold as a blacksplotation movie, it's actually a complicated multilayered character piece.  Has a big scope - looks at all the various levels of police and crooks in 70s Harlem.  Directed by Barry Shear - another underrated guy.  Lots of TV stuff, but his features are weird: "Wild in the Streets" and "The Todd Killings" to name just two.

Advise and Consent (1962; Otto Preminger)
When Otto Preminger is good, he is very good.  About the confirmation hearings for Secretary of State. Still feels fresh and vital.  Big cast - all terrific.  Wild gay subplot with Paul Masursky's writing partner Larry Tucker as man who allows his apartment to be used for same sex love.

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928; Carl Theodor Dreyer)
Always saw bits and pieces, never sat through it from start to finish.  Amazing, of course.  The pain of those close ups... Falconetti's face.  One of a kind.  Ashamed it took me this long to get to it.


Hal said...

Great list. I need to see GET CRAZY. IT IT'S TUESDAY... is something I haven't revisited in 20 years but I remember it fondly. THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC is my favorite silent film and one of my ten favorite films of all time, period.

Unknown said...

70s Cinema is filled with work of guys who made terrific edgy films that didn't work commercially and they turned to TV. I just watched THE LAST AMERICAN HERO by Lamont Johnson. One of the most underrated of all American 70s cinema. Also caught Ophuls' Hollywood noirs VENDETTA and THE RECKLESS MOMENT. Anyway thanks for such a mentally invigorating list! Archives are where it's at!