Moviedrome Mondays: Manhunter (1986)

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I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to director Michael Mann’s 1986 Neo-Noir/psychological horror/mystery/thriller Manhunter. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was August 4, 1991 (read here). As much as I enjoy Cox’s commentaries (this one included), I must say that he is totally off the mark here. Granted, Jonathan Demme is the better director, The Silence of the Lambs does not rank among his finest work. As with that 1991 Oscar-winning hit, Manhunter was adapted from a Thomas Harris novel (Red Dragon) and also featured convicted serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lector (last name appears as “Lecktor” in this film) as one of it’s characters. Unlike Lambs though, there is actually more to Manhunter than meets the eye. On the surface, Manhunter plays out as little more than a standard police procedural, but at the center, it is director Mann’s visual style that intentionally powers the film. The highlights in this case would be cinematographer Dante Spinotti’s stylish use of color and an atmospheric rock soundtrack. Also, despite his limited screen time, I always felt that co-star Brian Cox’s turn as Dr. Hannibal Lector was superior to that of Anthony Hopkins. Whereas Hopkins portrayal bordered on camp, Cox’s Lector comes off as down-to-earth, which only makes his presence more unsettling.

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


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

Moviedrome Mondays: The Music Lovers (1971)

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I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction of late visionary flamboyant British filmmaker Ken Russell’s 1971 bio-pic The Music Lovers. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was July 28, 1991 (read here). I agree with everything Cox says here; not only about the film – it is indeed a biggish budget British film with balls as he so eloquently states – but also about director Russell himself. Nevertheless, unlike Cox, I love Altered States and Gothic every bit as much as his 70’s work. I have talked about Russell quite a few times before (read here, here, here and here) and along with the recently departed Nicolas Roeg (who died back in 2018), Russell stood out as one of the two greatest transgressive filmmakers to emerge within the British cinema during the second half of the 20th century. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Ken Russell films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to The Music Lovers


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


Here is a youtube video link to director Bernard Rose’s (Candyman) Trailers From Hell commentary for it


Here is a youtube video link to British film critic Mark Kermode’s take on Ken Russell (he was a big fan). This was recorded in 2011 – shortly after Russell died.


Last, but not least, here is a link to Cox’s obituary for Russell (note you have to scroll all the way down to find it)

http://iainfisher.com/dis/index.php?topic=18817.0

Moviedrome Mondays: The Duellists (1977) and Cape Fear (1962)

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Once again, it turns out that this Moviedrome Monday blog entry will be another double bill.

The Duellists (1977)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction of Ridley Scott’s 1977 directorial debut The Duellists – a period piece based on writer Joseph Conrad’s 1908 short story entitled The Duel: A Military Story. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was July 21, 1991 (read here). The Duellists production values – music score, scenery and sword-fighting sequences – stand out as the film’s strongest aspect. Everything else pales in comparison. Once again, it is neither a great, nor very good film, but a good one nonetheless.

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


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


Cape Fear (1962)

I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction of director J. Lee Thompson’s 1962 classic psychological thriller Cape Fear. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was July 21, 1991 (read here). Unlike Cox (whose praise for the film is more reserved), I love this film. Regarding the film’s audacity (lead actor Robert Mitchum’s villain is openly depicted here as a sex offender), Cape Fear debatably resembles what an early 1960’s psychological thriller would look like helmed by Alfred Hitchcock as a spiritual companion piece (albeit one in name only) to the then similarly daring Psycho (also directed by him) from two years earlier in 1960. While all of the performances are strong, Mitchum is undoubtedly the standout as the creepy Max Cady and legendary music composer Bernard Herrmann’s delivers a memorably menacing score to complete the package. P.S. I also love director Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake staring Robert De Niro in the Cady role.

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


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

Moviedrome Mondays: At Close Range (1986)

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Welcome back my dear readers for my first Moviedrome Monday entry in 4 weeks. Glad to be back though 🙂 Since I could not find a youtube video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing director James Foley’s 1986 Neo-noir/crime drama At Close Range (reportedly based on a true story), readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was July 14, 1991 (read here). This stylish film benefits largely from two things – superb performances from it’s entire cast (especially Sean Penn and Christopher Walken) and Madonna’s emotionally charged song Live to Tell, which is (based on my knowledge) played in instrumental form here (been a while since I have seen it). Nevertheless, the drama never really ignites like it should – maybe uninvolving is too strong a word on Cox’s part, but he is right that something essential is missing from it. All in all, a good (If not very good) film, but not a great one.

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

Here is a youtube video link to a music video of Madonna’s aforementioned song Live to Tell

Moviedrome Mondays: Performance (1970)

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Though I could not find a youtube video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing directors Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell’s 1970 seminal British cult classic Performance, I did find one of Cox presenting it during (I believe) a one-time Summer programming event on BBC Two entitled Forbidden Weekend back in 1995 (read here). Nevertheless, one can read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was July 7, 1991 (read here). Speaking as a huge fan of both Roeg and Cammell, perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay to Performance is that it cemented both Roeg and Cammell’s status as daring original filmmakers. If any of you readers are interested, here are two links to a list of my favorite Nicolas Roeg films (read here) and Donald Cammell films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s intro to Performance during BBC Two’s 1995 summer programming event entitled Forbidden Weekend


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

My Favorite Alan Rudolph Films

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* * * * (Out of * * * *)

1.   Choose Me (1984)

2.   Remember My Name (1978)

3.   Afterglow (1997)

4.   The Moderns (1988)

5.   Trouble in Mind (1985)

6.   Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994)

* * * 1/2 (Out of * * * *)

1.   Songwriter (1984)

2.   The Secret Lives of Dentists (2002)

3.   Welcome to L.A. (1976)

Moviedrome Mondays: Badlands (1973) and The Prowler (1951)

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This Moviedrome Monday entry is going to be slightly different from the others. In this case, it marked the first time that the series showed two films instead of one.

Badlands (1973)

Since I could not find a youtube video link to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing legendary director Terrence Malick’s 1973 lovers-on-the-lam classic Badlands, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was June 30, 1991 (read here). Badlands served as Malick’s directorial debut and in retrospect, it marked the beginning of a master filmmaker. Every trademark that we associate Malick with, comes in full circle here – including, but not limited to, beautiful cinematography and music. As with all of Malick’s best films, the result truly feels like poetry in motion. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Terrence Malick films (read here).

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


The Prowler (1951)

Once again, I could not find a youtube video link to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing director Joseph Losey’s 1951 film-noir thriller The Prowler, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was June 30, 1991 (read here). Though I wholeheartedly agree with Cox in his implication that Losey was a hero, I draw the line at the suggestion that he was a great filmmaker on a whole. For me, 1963’s The Damned (released here in the U.S. as These Are the Damned) still remains my favorite Losey film, but this one (i.e. The Prowler) is very good. Perhaps the highest compliment I can give it is that it’s themes still remain timely to this day.

Note: Losey’s The Damned is a science-fiction horror film and it should not be confused with master Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti’s 1969 historical drama of the same name (also titled The Damned), which is another great film.

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

 

Moviedrome Mondays: Carnival of Souls (1962)

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I have posted a youtube video link below to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction of director Herk Harvey’s 1962 independent gem Carnival of Souls – the only film he ever made. Readers can also read Cox’s intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was June 23, 1991 (read here). Not much more I can say about this low-budget item other than to nod in agreement with everything Cox has said about it. Along with Leonard Kastle’s The Honeymoon Killers (another Moviedrome Monday entry) and George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Harvey’s Carnival of Souls stands out as one of the most influential cult films ever made.

Here is a youtube video link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Carnival of Souls


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