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NASHVILLE REBEL (1966; Jay Sheridan) Nashville Rebel is Waylon Jennings’ sole starring role. Released in early 1966 and done in a rush, the film captures the Nashville scene at that moment. However, the story is poor and it feels more like a travelogue than a film. Jennings publicly slammed it for decades, but he ultimately had to engage in an ownership battle to get the rights to the film. The sad thing is that this feature film has never been released in its proper 2.35:1 aspect ratio on home video.
If you dig that period’s music, then that will help you sell on the film. What makes it so underrated is that it was the Country Scene’s first major stab at making a narrative feature. Given the lack of any major actors, it’s a slightly camp look at what it takes to be a Country Music star.
LORD LOVE A DUCK (1966; George Axelrod) Lord Love A Duck is an underground film with such a dedicated fanbase. It’s so underground that the underground doesn’t know it exists. Originally conceived as a parody of period teen movies, George Axelrod got weird as hell with this film. Shooting it like an episode of the Batman TV series, Axelrod assembled a killer’s row of character actors to flank Tuesday Weld. The result can be seen below:
QUEEN OF BLOOD(1966; Curtis Harrington)
Queen of Blood is way ahead of its time. Borrowing on elements that would resurface in Alien, Lifeforce and Carpenter’s The Thing, the Earth picks up a distress signal from an alien ship crash. The ship comes from outside of our galaxy, yet smashed into Mars before it could reach Earth. Basil Rathbone sends an exploratory team that includes John Saxon and Dennis Hopper to rescue any alien survivors.
The discovery and room full of eggs should seem familiar, but the lead character seems to have been the precursor to Mathilda May’s space vampire roughly 19 years later. The day is saved when our heroes learn that the villain is a hemophiliac due to ages of alien in-breeding to save her royal status. Things like this are why you people need to watch more Curtis Harrington movies.
A FINE MADNESS (1966; Irvin Kirschner)
A Fine Madness is a rather new entry for me. While doing some research on Connery, I had a reader send over a DVD-R with seemingly a laserdisc copy of the movie on it. I’ve been super curious about the non-Bond projects that Connery undertook at the time and this stood out. Director by Irvin Kershner, the film finds Connery as a struggling poet. Connery’s ex-wife has sent an investigator to force him into paying alimony. Naturally, the poet Connery beats the hell out of him.
Connery meets a shrink that tries to help him by sending him to an up-state sanitarium. Connery agrees to go, as he just lost his job cleaning offices due to constantly having sex with secretaries. While at the nuthouse, Connery meets a TV shrink and his wife. The duo wants to help, but Connery ends up banging the wife in a therapeutic tub.
The doctor gets mad and convinces Connery to undergo a slight lobotomy style surgery to quell his anger. When waking from surgery, Connery punches the doctor in the face for the surgery’s failure. Connery returns to the city, where his ex-wife forgives the alimony issue and wants to get back together. That’s when the doctor’s wife shows up and wants to be with Connery. Connery wants the two to join him in a threesome, but his ex-wife refuses and leaves. That’s when the Doctor’s wife turns to him and says she’s pregnant with Connery’s kid. Connery punches her in the face and the film ends with a mob chasing him down. It might be the greatest film ever made.
THE ENDLESS SUMMER (1966; Bruce Brown)
The Endless Summer is one of those documentaries for people that don’t like documentaries. Setting the stage for decades of similar fare to come, Bruce Brown travels with two surfers as they tour the world. As they travel, different countries learn about the sport and start to perfect their style. More of an insanely detailed photographic exploit, the film helped to established independent distribution channels for American cinema.
Director/Narrator Bruce Brown would have tour the film through a snowy Midwest in order to find venues willing to take on a $50,000 surf documentary. The film finally found distribution when Cinema 5 refused to alter the now classic poster.