Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Olive Films - DEAD PIGEON ON BEETHOVEN STREET and TRY AND GET ME on Blu-ray ""

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Olive Films - DEAD PIGEON ON BEETHOVEN STREET and TRY AND GET ME on Blu-ray

DEAD PIGEON ON BEETHOVEN STREET (1973; Samuel Fuller)
This is another example of Olive Films stealing a little bit of thunder from Criterion (as they did with their John Huston Wartime documentaries set earlier this year). This is a rare film from a classic director, presented in a longer version than was readily available previously (this is the 127 min "director's cut"), restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive - with extras to boot.
From the  opening credits (featuring all of the cast AND crew each getting a little introduction shot with their name), Sam Fuller lets you know that this film is going to be something self aware and feisty. Even the title of the movie reeks of Sam Fuller. It recalls PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET, one of my favorite Fuller films.
Glenn Corbett plays a private detective from the states who's in Germany trying to figure out who murdered his partner. He doesn't speak much German and has an almost exaggeratedly American way about him so there are lots of amusing exchanges between him and locals, but he somehow is able to find his way. Corbett's detective eventually figures out that his partner was on the trail of a large blackmailing ring focused on entrapping diplomats for big paydays. He runs across lots of odd characters throughout the film and the whole farce feels like Fuller doing his tonal take on a French New Wave picture. It has this sort of Pop Art aesthetic about it and feels almost improvised in parts. It's quite a unique film, even within Fuller's stable of many unique films. 
Fuller also anticipates Paul Thomas Anderson's use of the music of German experimental rock group Can in INHERENT VICE, by using them throughout DEAD PIGEON. Both films actually open with Can's "Vitamin C", which can't be a coincidence. One could imagine Anderson has seen this movie and is a fan of it as it really makes an interesting companion feature to INHERENT VICE. 
Big points for the scene where Glenn Corbett stumbles into a movie theater playing RIO BRAVO in German. He is extremely excited to see John Wayne and Dean Martin - so much so that he almost loses track of the suspect that he had followed into the theater to begin with. Any movie that makes reference to RIO BRAVO gives me a big old smile as that is one of my all-time favorites. 

Special Features:
-"Return to Beethoven Street: Sam Fuller in Germany" (110 mins) - a Documentary by Robert Fischer featuring interviews with Christa Lang-Fuller, Eric P. Caspar, Wim Wenders, Dominik Graf, Jan Bergstrom and more. There's also some great archival footage of Fuller himself in here too. This is an excellent doc that covers not only DEAD PIGEON, but the other aspects of Fuller's life and work as well.
-Essay by Lisa Dombrowski, author of The Films of Samuel Fuller.
-Essay on the film by Samuel B. Prime.
You can purchase the movie on Blu-ray here:
http://amzn.to/1SQzxNL

TRY AND GET ME! (1950; Cy Enfield)
This film noir, also known as THE SOUND OF FURY was directed by Cy Enfield, who made a lot of interesting films like MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, ZULU and HELL DRIVERS (which TRY AND GET ME has the most in common with). It's the story of a down on his luck schmoe (Frank Lovejoy) who has no job (and no prospects) and is trying to support his wife and son with a new baby on the way. He's really gotten desperate and when he runs into a slick, overconfident thief (a wonderfully slimy Lloyd Bridges) in a bowling alley, he ends up reluctantly starts pulling jobs with the guy. As soon as he starts getting paid, the schmoe immediately starts in on the spending and telling his wife how this new job (he says its the night shift at a cannery) will set them up right. Being that it's a noir, you can feel that things are gonna go south and it's just a matter of time before the criminal way leads to...murder! And some people just can't handle murder. They lose their heads and spout off about it and that just leads to more trouble. The horror of the film comes from the idea that any man can be turned to a life of larceny if he's sufficiently up against the wall. TRY AND GET ME succeeds best with its ambient sense of underlying doom that pervades every scene. There's a little bit too much direct character pontification of theme towards the end, but it still has an ending that packs a wallop nonetheless.
Listen to Film Noir Czar Eddie Muller below as he introduces the film before a Noir City screening back in 2013. He reveals some interesting things about the production - not the least of which is that it is apparently it is based on a true incident:


You can purchase the movie on Blu-ray here:
http://amzn.to/1W4NSuO

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