Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Twilight Time - 10 TO MIDNIGHT and AT CLOSE RANGE on Blu-ray ""

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Twilight Time - 10 TO MIDNIGHT and AT CLOSE RANGE on Blu-ray

10 TO MIDNIGHT (1983; J. Lee Thompson)
It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that the guy who directed THE GUNS OF NAVARONE and the original CAPE FEAR back to back is also the guy responsible for this Cannon Films sleaze classic. This is not to comment in any way on the quality of 10 TO MIDNIGHT, because let's just get this out of the way - I love it. I love it more than I love either GUNS or FEAR by quite a bit. Not that I don't have a good deal of reverence for those two classics, but 10 TO MIDNIGHT just has a lot that I adore. It has Charles Bronson for one thing and an older Charles Bronson at that (he was actually about 62 when this came out). I have a great deal of affection for older Charles Bronson and this has a good deal to do with DEATH WISH 3. I can't exactly recall if I saw all the DEATH WISH films in order, but I do know for sure that I had a taped-off-TBS version of DEATH WISH III and I watched it over and over and over when I was a youth. I love that movie with a passion to this very day. I came to it at the tail end of my fascination with American action heroes like Eastwood, Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee. I got into Bronson along the way too and DEATH WISH III was one of the first films of his I saw. It was a relatively mind-blowing experience to me at the time. Not that I'm trying to say that the film is any kind of masterpiece, but it was just a lesson to me in how far out and crazy a movie could be. Wait, you can shoot a huge hole in a purse-snatching gang member with your gigantic (and basically illegal) elephant gun in the form of a handgun? You can blow a guy out of an apartment building with a small bazooka? I'd seen some wild stuff in my day to that point, but never anything quite as evil and violent as that. So basically, I was hooked. Bronson became even a bigger deal to me and I started making darn sure I'd seen everything he'd ever done. 10 TO MIDNIGHT was one of his entries that I came to a little later and it grabbed me in a similar way to DEATH WISH III in that is was just bananas. I would later drawn the line between these two Cannon Films production and see clearly how they both were obviously coming from a similar special place.
I find it interesting as, I mentioned before, that J. Lee Thompson directed this movie. I kinda love that the man's career could span as long as it did and be littered with interesting genre diversions from this to the two PLANET OF THE APES movies that he directed. He also did the solid but underrated REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD and that needs a proper Blu-ray release pronto. Anyway, I just love the variety that the dude had and this film represents basically one of only a couple horror films he made in his career. Speaking of interesting stuff, it should be mentioned that in 1981 Thompson directed one of the great slasher movies of the 1980s in HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. Talk about range! So 10 TO MIDNIGHT, though more in the erotic thriller vein is certainly easy to lump into the slasher category. Basically there is a twisted killer on the loose and he's cutting up ladies. Bronson plays an old, cranky cop with a young partner (Andrew Stevens) who is investigating the murders and things end up getting a little personal. I won't go too much further than that, but suffice it to say that you need to see this movie. Genre folks, I must urge you to seek it out if you haven't. It really is a Charles Bronson slasher movie put out by Cannon Films and it is as amazing and worthwhile as that sounds.
Highly recommended is this very recent episode of the KILLER POV podcast (a favorite of mine) which features a lovely interview with Twilight Time's own Nick Redman:
This is actually Nick's second appearance on the show (he came on about this time in 2014 as well) and I always enjoy hearing him talk about films and his excellent label TT. I was somewhat disappointed to hear him say that 10 TO MIDNIGHT, despite having a significant chuck of fans has not sold all that well for them. If you haven't seen this movie and you are a genre fan, I urge you to think about it. It is pretty outstanding. For another nice podcast to encourage you to buy the movie, check out this cool episode of Junkfood Cinema from earlier this year:
Supplements on this disc include an Isolated Score Track (with some effects) and Audio Commentary with Producer Pancho Kohner, Casting Director John Crowther, and Film Historian David Del Valle. Del Valle interestingly has a significant amount of screen time in Mark Hartley's (NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD) most recent documentary effort - ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS.
10 TO MIDNIGHT can be purchased on Blu-ray from Twilight Time's site here:

In case you missed it somehow, Sean Pean has made a crap-ton of good movies in his many years as an actor. As you might expect, some of them are more well-remembered than others. Everybody knows him as Jeff Spicoli from FAST TIMES, but fewer recall his extremely sharp turn as Mick O'Brien in BAD BOYS. Fewer still have seen he and Nic Cage so good together in RACING WITH THE MOON. Such are the pitfalls of a long, illustrious career. People can't remember all of them, even the good ones (and both BAD BOYS and RACING WITH THE MOON are very good by the way). I know I broach this topic a lot on this site, but it's just kinda my thing and more or less the mission statement of Rupert Pupkin Speaks in general. I'm always on the lookout for opportunities to talk your ear off about some movie you haven't seen in forever and could probably benefit from a revisit. Well AT CLOSE RANGE is another one of those films. It is truly fantastic and I couldn't be more pleased to get it an nice Blu-ray release like this.
It's a really an interesting mix of story elements. I'd describe it as one part small-town coming of age romance and one part Michael Mann's THIEF. Hopefully that summary intrigues - it should. This is seriously a good little movie. Part of the reason it's so good obviously has to do with Sean Penn who is his usual big bucket of awesome in it. Another piece of its greatness is all about Christopher Walken. This movie is truly one of my very favorite performances from Walken and he's a guy whose has his share if great go-rounds. Penn plays a rural youngster who finds his estranged father re-entering his life unexpectedly. He is of course interested in his dad and comes to spend some time with him and discover that he is a career thief. Being it's the countryside, his dad does a lot if stealing tractors and whatnot, but Penn's character gets sucked in nonetheless. At the same time as all this is going on, he meets a girl (Mary Stuart Masterson) and falls hard for her. As you can imagine, these two plot lines don't mix together too nearly and this the resulting drama ensues. I love stories about blue collar criminals. This film (based on a true story) truly depicts the lifestyle in a down and dirty, realistic kind of way that makes it feel like a legitimate peek into that world. It's not unlike director James Foley's other film GLEN GARRY GLEN ROSS and how it gives a look into the world of real estate. 
Walken is truly revelatory in this movie. He is uncannily charismatic, but at once very frightening. He is warm to his son, but understandably untrusting, paranoid and ready to deal with people who threaten his livelihood in whatever way is necessary. At one point he gives Sean Penn a very haunting, inquisitive look and then raises a finger to his lips. It is such a powerful gesture in the context of the scene and a very unforgettable one. Rarely have I seen such a perfectly pitched realization of a tricky character.
There is a stellar ensemble around Penn and Walken though and it really elevates the whole affair. Other cast includes Candy Clark, Millie Perkins, David Straithairn, Stephen Geoffreys, Crispin Glover, Keiffer Sutherland, and the "Plate of shrimp" guy from REPO MAN.
I have an odd connection to the music in this movie. You see, the score is crafted around the Madonna song, "Live to Tell"  and bits of that tune can be heard here and there throughout. When I was in high school, my sisters were obsessed with Madonna's IMMACULATE COLLECTION cd and they played it constantly. It was a mainstay in the mornings before school. So as a result I heard those songs ad nauseum and though "Live to Tell" wasn't as popular with them as say "La Isla Bonita", I came to know it well and this was before I ever saw AT CLOSE RANGE. It's a good song though and I appreciate it a lot more now than I did 20 years ago. It slots nicely into the film.
Special features on this disc: 
-An Audio Commentary with Director James Foley and Nick Redman. I liked this commentary quite a bit. Big recommend.-Isolated Score Track 

AT CLOSE RANGE can be purchased on Blu-ray from Twilight Time here:


Dick Hollywood said...

Though I have not seen "At Close Range" in a very long time, I do concur with you that it is a Really Good Flick. It was one of my Favs growing up. Super dark and intense with great performances by the whole cast, especially Penn and Walken. Thanks for the write up. I think I will head over to Twilight Time and grab me a copy...

Rupert Pupkin said...

Very cool Dick! Yeah I put it on late late at night when I rewatched it and that is always the true test of a great film. It kept me awake till nearly 2 am! I had to finish it. Walken is just so compelling and yeah the dark places it goes to really make it a powerful movie. Hope you enjoy the Blu-ray!