Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '77 - James Curtiss ""

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Underrated '77 - James Curtiss

James Curtiss is one half of the team behind the podcast “At The Cheap Seats,” where he and his cohort Matt [REDACTED]review the movies you don't want to pay full price for. If you’re tired of paying $14 to sit in a theater with nitwits too busy to stop talking and texting long enough just to watch yet anothersequel to the prequel of the remake of the comic book, they can tell you if it’s worth waiting a month for the same marginally enjoyable experience for just $2 at your local “Dollar House.” James also ran the now defunct IHEARTSEQUELS blog, wherehe spent far too much time a) soapboxing for the much maligned entries in already over-maligned franchises; b) trying to persuade people that a lot of sequels are better than their predecessors, and c) daydreaming about sequels that were never to be. In the end, he is an optimist to a fault, always trying to find something worthwhile in what far too many others have already deemed worthless.
Listen to At the Cheap Seats on iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/at-the-cheap-seats/id1028662586?mt=2

Check out his Underrated '87 and '47 lists too:
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RACE FOR YOUR LIFE, CHARLIE BROWN / THE BAD NEWS BEARS IN BREAKING TRAINING - While their respective predecessors are more highly regarded and better remembered, I grew up watching these sequels and they still manage to put a big, old smile on my face. Both take their characters out of their familiar surroundings and unmoor them from as much adult supervision as possible. For the Peanuts gang, this means a summer camp trip and river-rafting competition that puts them in harm’s way far more often then even the sturdiest of adults could handle. As for The Bears, they hoodwink and hornswoggle their way from LA to Houston to play at the Astrodome, with nary a Walter Matthau in sight. Sure, William Devane takes time off from seeking bloodthirsty revenge to offer some late-in-the-game council to the boys, but by that point we’ve already seen the gang travel across four states all on their own.
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CROSS OF IRON / NEW YORK, NEW YORK - Two of my favorite films of the 1970s; one the last great gasp from one of the mavericks who helped usher in the New Hollywood, the other the first big failure of one of the leading lights of that new generation of filmmakers. I am still in wonder about why these films have yet to receive their just reappraisal. CROSS OF IRON seems to elude the Peckinpah fans who swoon for either his Westerns or his roughies. This could be due to years of having little-to-lackluster releases for home viewing. That’s a damn shame because this wonderful anti-war film (from a filmmaker who saw combat) features powerful performances from James Coburn and Maximillian Schell, as well as Peckinpah’s signature, visceral craft. As for NEW YORK, NEW YORK, I was absolutely convinced people would rediscover it in the wake of the success of LA LA LAND last year. All the films that people kept harping on when discussing that film’s progenitors, nobody hit on Scorsese’s film as one of the most obvious influences.
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THE SENTINEL / THE CAR - A demonic double, this pair of films illustrate the far-reaching success of the antecedents of Satanic panic in THE EXORCIST, ROSEMARY’S BABY, and THE OMEN. They also, for my money, feature some of the most lasting images I can think of in 70s horror cinema, just based on the sheer audacity of their most indelible moments. In the former, the fact that maestro of sleaze Michael Winner actually cast people with disabilities as the denizens of the dark side is deeply disturbing for reasons most obvious. With regards to the latter, let’s just say there is a scene involving the titular automobile and a woman in a house that just has to be seen to be believed. Do yourself a favor and pick up the Scream Factory releases for both films. You won’t regret it.
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BLACK SUNDAY / TELEFON / THE GAUNTLET - If you’re looking to program a night of testosterone-fueled 70s cinema, do I have a triple feature for you. First up, Robert Shaw plays a Mossad agent (!) trying to thwart deranged Vietnam vet Bruce Dern’s plan to unleash a terrorist attack on Super Bowl X in John Frankenheimer’s BLACK SUNDAY. Next up, Charles Bronson plays a KGB Major (!!!) hunting down rogue operative Donald Pleasance, who is activating deep-cover sleeper agents all across America in Don Siegel’s TELEFON. Then we wrap up with burnout cop Clint Eastwood (also handling director duties) having to protect Mob witness Sandra Locke from what seems like every sleazy gangster, crooked cop and backwards-ass fuckface in THE GAUNTLET.
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Random thoughts:
Any fan of the TV show OZ who hasn’t seen SHORT EYES needs to remedy that shit right quick.
The most random double feature I wanna suggest would be Gene Wilder’s THE WORLD’S GREATEST LOVER and Ken Russell’s VALENTINO. People of the 1970’s were obsessed with romanticizing the late silent film star Rudolph Valentino and you couldn’t find two more disparate representations of that then these two films.

If there is one movie from 1977 that needs to get pulled out of the VHS boneyard it’s the absolutely riveting LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR. Someone needs to figure out the music licensing rights or whatever is holding up a proper release of this film that proves that Diane Keaton was so much more than Annie Hall in ’77.

1 comment:

SteveQ said...

Nice to see Short Eyes on someone's list. I'd forgotten that one.