Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All of My Readers

I just want to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2021 🙂 Also, let us hope that 2021 is better than 2020 (i.e. Covid-19). As usual, look forward to more blog entries from me in the New Year 🙂

Now I would like to conclude this year with a youtube video link to Country singing legend Dolly Parton’s delightful 2020 rendition of A Holly Jolly Christmas (click here) 🙂

Moviedrome Mondays: The Day of the Locust (1975) and The Big Knife (1955)

The last episode in series 5 of Moviedrome also happens to be another double bill. In this case, the theme revolves around the darker side of Hollywood.

The Day of the Locust (1975)

Since I could not find a youtube video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing British director John Schlesinger’s 1975 period drama The Day of the Locust, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was August 30, 1992 (read here). Though I do not share Cox’s enthusiasm for 1969’s Midnight Cowboy (also from Schlesinger and screenwriter Waldo Salt), I do agree with everything else he states here regarding The Day of the Locust. Compared to writer Nathanael West’s great 1939 novel of the same name about 1930’s Hollywood, this film adaptation of The Day of the Locust is a hit-and-miss affair. Unfortunately, that same sentiment can also be applied when standing on it’s own. The standout aspects of this film lie in Richard Macdonald’s Art-Direction, Conrad L. Hall’s cinematography, Ann Roth’s costumes, it’s ensemble cast and as Cox notes – two highly impressive disasters and the constant threat of a city-leveling earthquake. What’s lacking here is the satire/social comment and symbolism that shaped the book’s narrative as a whole. All in all, a misfire, albeit an intriguing one.

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

The Big Knife (1955)

Once again, I could not find a youtube video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing cult director Robert Aldrich’s 1955 film noir drama The Big Knife, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was August 31, 1992 (read here). I agree with Cox’s opinion concerning Jack Palance’s lead performance in the film, but I would like to single out another aspect for praise here. Based on legendary playwright Clifford Odets 1949 stage play of the same name, The Big Knife is confined mostly to a single set. Nevertheless, Aldrich symbolically uses the film’s long shot technique to his advantage by involving the audience on both a cinematic and theatrical level. On the one hand, actor Charlie Castle’s (Palance) personal life plays out like a melodrama in regards to how his relationships with wife Marion (Ida Lupino), the flirtatious Connie (Jean Hagen) and struggling actress Dixie Evans (Shelley Winters) are depicted. When it comes to Castle’s professional life though, The Big Knife becomes an expose on the seedy business practices of major Hollywood studios – this comes in the form of a ruthless and unethical studio boss named Stanley Shriner Hoff (Rod Steiger). Last, but not least, we get a typically expressive and stylish title sequence designed by the late great Saul Bass. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Robert Aldrich films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Here is a youtube video link to Saul Bass opening title sequence for the film

While this will not be my last blog entry for 2020, it will be my last one concerning the Moviedrome Mondays entries. I will resume my Moviedrome Mondays blog series in the new year (Sunday, January 10, 2021) beginning with season 6 of Moviedrome 🙂

Moviedrome Mondays: Tracks (1976)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to actor-turned-director/writer Henry Jaglom’s 1976 drama Tracks. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was August 23, 1992 (read here). Contrary to Cox’s opinion, I neither adore nor admire Tracks as much as I respect it, albeit mildly. Compared to Jaglom’s other films as a director, Tracks comes off (at least for me) as his strongest one to date. As deeply flawed as it is, Tracks has three things going for it. The first comes from Dennis Hopper’s riveting central performance. The second comes from Jaglom’s inspired mixing of form (flashback structure) with content (PTSD among a Vietnam war veteran). Speaking of that last aspect, Tracks was one of the earliest American films to touch upon the subject of the Vietnam war and If nothing else, deserves a better reputation than it’s current status as an obscurity.

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Tracks

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: Walker (1987)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to his 1987 acid western Walker. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was August 16, 1992 (read here). Since Cox has frequently cited Walker as his personal favorite of all the films he directed (read here, here and here), all I can do is nod in agreement with him. I absolutely adore this film – it is a hallucinatory acid western/biographical historical drama/satire/social commentary with an electrifying score by late great legendary British punk rock musician Joe Strummer. Last, but not least, Cox and screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer’s bold use of anachronisms not only adds to the fun, but it can also be seen as a still timely metaphor for U.S. involvement in regime change. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Alex Cox films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Walker

Here is a youtube video link to what may be the film’s original theatrical trailer