Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '75 - Samuel B. Prime ""

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Underrated '75 - Samuel B. Prime

Samuel B. Prime is a writer, film curator, and archivist based in Los Angeles, where he currently works in film distribution. He is presently writing and editing a two-volume set for The Critical Press on the pioneering and highly influential LA-based pay cable station, the Z Channel, which existed from 1974 - 1989. As a film curator, he has helmed high-profile screening events for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and UCLA's Melnitz Movies. Otherwise, he deeply admires Dick Cavett's savoir faire. Find him online at www.lacinesalon.com for essays and free streaming movies.
Check out his Underrated '85 list here:
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/2015/03/underrated-samuel-b-prime.html
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CRACKED ACTOR (Alan Yentob, 1975)
A made-for-television documentary that covers the snapshot in David Bowie history where Ziggy had just been buried and with Diamond Dogs and Young Americans came a sonic and spiritual rebirth informed by a certain white powder confidence. Brief at 53 minutes, certainly, but brilliant for capturing those critical 'golden years' that might otherwise be lost to memory.

THE DIVINE NYMPH (Giuseppe Patroni Griffi, 1975)
Painterly and perfect, The Divine Nymph is a film whose every composition could well be a Renaissance masterwork. A memorable early scene has the sultry mistress of the narrative (Laura Antonelli) posed as Titian's Venus of Urbino. I imagine there are many more similarly explicit references, but I will leave those for the art historians. This film is slow and delicious, stale with visible wafts of cigarette smoke hanging in the air with nowhere to go, and it evokes a salacious satisfaction from its twofold moral message: a divine creature cannot be kept by any mortal man regardless of his status, nor can an old whore be taught new tricks.

FAREWELL, MY LOVELY (Dick Richards, 1975)
Mitchum is Marlowe as a washed-up old dog, a detective who has definitely seen better days. In-between legitimate capers, he chases down runaway schoolgirls and saves felines from modest heights. There is a kind of poetry to the cheapness of this film that - incidentally or otherwise - seems to reflect its dime store origins. Too often the world of noir collides with high-minded social melodrama and the result is almost always disingenuous. By contrast, Dick Richards' approach to the material seems above all honest, as if he were allowing the work to simply unfold and be true to itself rather than craft something deliberately thematic.

THE SUPER INFRA-MAN (Hua Shan, 1975)
Dark-hearted, cave-dwelling villainess Princess Dragon Mom is out to rule the world. Only the Super Infra-Man can stop her with a mix of lethal kicks, thunder fists, and erupting bullets. Siskel and Ebert were also major fans of this wonderfully bonkers Shaw Bros. title.

WOLFGUY: ENRAGED LYCANTHROPE (Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, 1975)
Sonny Chiba is a werewolf detective, the only surviving member of his clan. For some reason, there is an invisible ghost-tiger terrorizing the Tokyo streets, ripping people to shreds. It's a conspiracy! I think? Anyhow, the J-CIA (Japanese Central Intelligence Agency) is behind the whole thing and all they really want anyway is Wolfguy's blood. This is easily one of the best and strangest movies I have ever witnessed. This one is a definite favorite. 

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