Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2015 - Elijah Drenner ""

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Film Discoveries of 2015 - Elijah Drenner

Elijah Drenner is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker and one of the leading independent producers of Blu-ray/DVD bonus content and Electronic Press Kits. He has produced original content for The Criterion Collection, IFC Midnight, Dark Sky Films, Kino Lorber, Shout! Factory, Vinegar Syndrome and many more. In 2010, Drenner directed the documentary AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE. His second feature-length documentary, THAT GUY DICK MILLER is available on DVD and VOD:!content/674015/That-Guy-Dick-Miller
Excluding the movie I left during the middle of (Youth), I only watched 177 new movies in 2015. Sorry mom, I'll try harder next year.

The Green-Eyed Blonde (1957) My favorite discovery this year was this surprising women-in-prison film scripted by Dalton Trumbo (under the name Sally Stubblefield) and directed by TV veteran Bernard Girrard. Incredible performances by Melinda Plowman, Susan Oliver and Norma Jean Nilsson elevate this B-movie from low-level camp to the an unexpected and emotionally involving story of young women fighting for their place in the world. Definitely recommend for fans who like their social message films with a one-two-punch of Samuel  Fuller-esque bursts of shock and violence.

Claudelle Inglish (1961) Every year, I try to catch up with movies directed by one of my favorite unsung directors; Gordon Douglas. In 2015, I only watched two; Sincerely Yours (1955) and Mara Maru (1952). Adapted from the novel by Erskine Caldwell, Claudelle Inglish tells the tawdry tale of a poor, beautiful, southern teen who falls for a military man, determines to keep her virtue until he returns to marry her. But when she receives a letter stating that he has fallen in love with another woman, she gets revenge the only way she knows how -- by sleeping with every man she can find. Diane McBain is great as Claudelle with the always reliable Arthur Kennedy as her father. Claude Aikins is positively lecherous as the wealthy landowner who has his eyes on Claudelle from the beginning. The ending packs a wallop.   

Nothing Lasts Forever (1984) This movie has been slowly getting the cult recognition it deserves. In an unspecified totalitarian future, Zach Galligan plays a young pianist who decides to quit show business and become an artist. He returns home to Manhattan, but before entering the city, the New York Port Authority forces him to take an art test. He fails and must instead guide traffic through the Holland Tunnel. It is there, that he falls in love with a mystery woman and discovers that the city is actually controlled by a group of homeless people, who help guide him to his true calling in life. Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd co-star in this charming homage to classic black and white Hollywood comedies of the 40s, directed by Tom Schiller. 

Odd Man Out (1947) This impeccably photographed black and white psychological thriller, directed by Carol Reed and photographed by Robert Krasker was made two years before their seminal classic The Third Man. But I kinda like this one more. James Mason stars as the leader of a group of Irish revolutionaries. After a botched bank robbery leaves him wounded and on the lam, he takes refuge in an abandoned air-raid shelter, while struggling to evade the police and his own growing madness. 

Night Must Fall (1964) Albert Finney stars in this screen adaptation of the Emylin Williams stage play as a charismatic serial killer who boards with an invalid woman and begins to romance her daughter. Finney is great and the tension mounted by director Karel Reisz is quite good, especially during a childish game of hide & seek. A fine, understated thriller.

1 comment:

Rik Tod Johnson said...

Argh! I left Nothing Lasts Forever off my Film Discoveries list for 2015!!

Oh well, I am glad Elijah shared it with everyone, and his words ring true. This exceedingly quirky film is indeed charming and deserves a bigger audience. I can't wait to watch it relentlessly for the rest of my life now that I have discovered it for myself.