Moviedrome Mondays: The Long Hair of Death (1964)

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As with last week’s Moviedrome Monday entry (The Parallax View in this case), this one also includes a youtube link to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s intro to this film, which is The Long Hair of Death – a 1964 black-and-white Italian horror film directed by Antonio Margheriti (sometimes known as Anthony M. Dawson or Anthony Daisies). The episode’s original airdate was July 24, 1988 (read here). Here, Cox talks about it’s similarities to The Wicker Man (another Moviedrome entry that I covered – read here) and delves a little bit into the background of it’s lead British actress Barbara Steele (read here and here). Cox is correct that horror films made up a good portion of his work (his then previous one being Castle of Blood – co-directed with Sergio Corbucci from that same year), but Margheriti has also tackled other genres including action, Eurospy, giallo, science fiction, spaghetti westerns (though he briefly talks about one of them in his introduction), sword and sandal films and war movies serve as many examples according to wikipedia’s entry on him (read here). Both Margheriti and The Long Hair of Death has often been implicitly dismissed as a pale imitation of Italian horror maestro Mario Bava and his works (read here). Having only seen a few of his films, I can not really comment on that. Nevertheless, I have no problem in praising The Long Hair of Death as a visually atmospheric horror film and I think many people can agree with that sentiment – at least those who have seen this film.

Here is a youtube link to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to The Long Hair of Death

 

Here is a youtube link to The Long Hair of Death’s U.S. trailer (I could not find the Italian one)

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Moviedrome Mondays: The Parallax View (1974)

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For the first time since the Barbarella post three weeks back (read it here), this Moviedrome Mondays entry features a video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing Alan J. Pakula’s 1974 politically charged thriller The Parallax View from season 1 of the program (read here). The episode’s original airdate was July 17, 1988 (read here). Cox does not talk much here regarding his thoughts on the film (though he reportedly loves it). Instead, he uses the film and connects it to how the American political climate of the 1960’s changed the country forever. The main cases here are the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 (read here), presidential nominee Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 (read here) and Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. (read here) from that same year. Like Cox, I used some of these same historical events in my reviews of both George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Robert Altman’s Nashville and connected them to the social commentary that both films displayed in different ways. The former came out in 68 and the latter in 1975. Everything Cox says here is just mesmerizing. Not only that, but I have also uploaded a video link of Cox expanding upon his thoughts in a another televised showing of The Parallax View as part of BBC Two’s Kennedy Night on November 21, 1993. I have uploaded quite a few video links to it since some of the videos feel incomplete.

First, here is the youtube video link of Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to The Parallax View


Here is one youtube video link part of Cox’s intro to the same film from 1993 on BBC Two’s Kennedy Night


Here is another youtube video link part to that same program


And here is another youtube video link that runs 21 minutes or so


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

Moviedrome Mondays: Johnny Guitar (1954)

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Although their is a video link to later Moviedrome host Mark Cousins (1997-2000) introducing this film, I could not (once again) find a video link of earlier Moviedrome host Alex Cox (1988-1994) introducing Nicolas Ray’s  1954 cult cross-gender western Johnny Guitar. Nevertheless, as usual, you can read the transcript for his intro here. The episode’s original airdate was July 10, 1988 (read here). I am sorry but Cox is totally wrong on this one. First off, the film’s cult reputation lies in Ray’s and screenwriter Philip Yordan’s (adapted from Roy Chanslor’s 1953 novel of the same name) audacious blend of camp and social commentary that has earned it a cult reputation over the years (read here). Johnny Guitar is not so much a revisionist western as it is an intentionally vicious parody of one. For example, despite rescuing anti-heroine Vienna (Joan Crawford) twice, actor Sterling Hayden’s title character comes off as uncharismatic throughout. In fact, he and the rest of the male cast are upstaged by the two lead actresses of the film – Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge, who plays the villainous Emma Small. Taking all of this into consideration, one is tempted to call Johnny Guitar (in some respects) a feminist western. But then again, that is still heavily debatable. Some people I know who adore Johnny Guitar have even implied that it can be praised as a western with lesbian overtones. Again, still heavily debatable. At the same time though, others (critics and viewers alike) have viewed it as a social commentary on McCarthyism (read here). Debatable or not though, Johnny Guitar does work on all of these levels. What Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly from one year later (read my review here) did for 1950’s film noir, Johnny Guitar does for 1950’s westerns. In this case, Johnny Guitar can best be viewed as a 1950’s western with openly anti-fifties tendencies. If any of you readers are interested in reading my list of my favorite Nicholas Ray films, read here.

Here is a youtube link to Johnny Guitar’s original theatrical trailer

Moviedrome Mondays: The Hired Hand (1971)

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Since I can’t find a video of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing actor Peter Fonda’s 1971 directorial debut The Hired Hand, I have once again relied on a link to Cox’s intro transcript of it via moviedrome.tumblr.com (read here). The episode’s original airdate was July 3, 1988 (read here). Along with director Monte Hellman’s 1966 film The Shooting, The Hired Hand can best be described as an Acid Western (read here). Read the link, but the one thing I can tell you that everybody else familiar with the term has noted is that Acid Westerns are characterized by their dreamlike pacing. Sadly, Cox does not think that The Hired Hand is a classic. The film garnered mixed reviews at the time so it is probably not much of a surprise. Nevertheless, by 2001, it’s critical standing had improved with some critics giving off the vibe that it is a misunderstood masterpiece of the Western genre (read here). Here is Cox, in his own words, about his problems with the film – the camerawork is all bleary and there are long transitions and the people don’t say much. It’s not as good as The Last Movie, it doesn’t have Hopper’s madness or breadth of vision. Once again, read here. Okay, first of all, maybe The Hired Hand was not intended to have The Last Movie’s (directed by Dennis Hopper) madness or breadth of vision. Coincidentally, both films came out in 1971.  For the record, I personally believe that The Last Movie is a bigger achievement by comparison, but The Hired Hand is still brilliant in it’s own ways. I appreciate the film’s bleary cinematography (courtesy of the late great Vilmos Zsigmond); it is not only beautiful, but it is appropriate for the film’s dreamy quality. Same thing goes regarding the film’s long transitions and the limited qualities of it’s characters. To be fair though, Cox did single out actor Warren Oates for praise. According to Cox, If one asked actors Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton and Ed Harris to name the best American actor living or dead it is quite likely that they are not going to say Marlon Brando. They’ll tell you it’s Warren Oates. Read here once again. I too am a huge fan of Oates as an actor. Here are two links below – one for the film’s original theatrical trailer in 1971 and the other for the 2001 Restored Director’s Cut.

Here is the youtube link below for the film’s 1971 original theatrical trailer

 

Here is the youtube link below for the film’s 2001 Restored Director’s Cut trailer

 

 

Moviedrome Mondays: Barbarella (1968)

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Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox personally feels that erotic French filmmaker Roger Vadim is not really a good director (read here) in his introduction to the 1968 science-fiction cult classic Barbarella. As one might have guessed, the film is based on Jean-Claude Forest’s comic book series of the same name (read here). The episode’s original airdate was June 26th, 1988 (read here). Anyone interested in reading the episode transcript, you can read it here. Despite having seen only three of Vadim’s films (this one, And God Created Woman and Pretty Maids All in a Row), I personally feel that Cox could potentially be wrong here because I love all three of the aforementioned titles. Nevertheless, Cox is correct when he calls Barbarella entertaining. I also agree with him that the production design and costumes serve as the standout aspects of the film (read here). I also enjoyed lead actress Jane Fonda’s portrayal of the title character. Interesting bit of trivia for my readers, Fonda was also married to director Vadim during this period (read here). For those interested in my favorite films of director Roger Vadim, read here. Also, you readers might be pleased to know, that I found a youtube link of Cox introducing this film on Moviedrome.

Here is the youtube link of Alex Cox’s introducing this film on Moviedrome


Also, here is a youtube link to the US trailer

 

Moviedrome Mondays: The Last Picture Show (1971)

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Once again, I could not find a video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing director Peter Bogdanovich’s 1971 classic drama The Last Picture Show, so my readers will have to make due with a link to his transcript (read here). The original airdate of this episode was June 19th, 1988. I wholeheartedly agree with Cox’s intro here especially on what he said about it’s use of black-and-white (which Picture Show was shot in) and how it is still very rarely used. I also agree with Cox’s words of it being about the decline of a small Texas cow town, or, if you like, the decline of the American dream (whatever that is), symbolised by the closing of the last cinema in town. I could not have said it better myself. The acting – especially by Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman – is superb as is Bogdanovich’s direction, he and Larry McMurtry’s screenplay (adapted from the 1966 novel of the same name by the latter) and last, but not least, Robert Surtess black-and-white cinematography that gives it’s 1950’s setting a proper nostalgic tone. If any of you readers are interested in reading my list of my favorite Peter Bogdanovich films, read here. Also, here is a youtube link to the film’s original trailer below:

Moviedrome Mondays: Fat City (1972)

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Yet again, I could not find a link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing this 1972 classic boxing drama, so my readers will have to read his introduction here. The original airdate of this episode was June 12, 1988. The director of Fat City is John Huston, who has directed such classics as The Maltese Falcon and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre to name just two examples. In case you readers are interested, here is a link to my list of my favorite films by him. Cox is right on just about everything here including the intimacy of it’s drama.

Anyway, here is a youtube link to the trailer below:

Moviedrome Mondays: Big Wednesday (1978)

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Once again, I could not find a video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing the film, so once again, I will have to link to Moviedromer’s entry of it alone (read here). The episode’s original airdate was June 5, 1988. Cox’s analysis of John Milius 1978 coming-of-age drama about California surfers is very interesting. Though Cox agrees with the critics that Big Wednesday is “grandiose” and “pretentious” (read here), he also feels that those same words can easily apply to a lot of other good/great films – Cox cites Citizen Kane (a reported favorite of his) as one example. As much as I admire Dillinger, The Wind and the Lion, Conan the Barbarian and Red Dawn, Big Wednesday is still my favorite of all the films John Milius has directed in his career. Milius himself even cited it as a very personal film himself. In closing, what else can be said about Milius that has not been said before. According to IMDB’s (Internet Movie Database) profile on him (read here), his films often reflect his conservative political beliefs (though he personally identifies as a “zen anarchist“) and likes to say outrageous things. On the side, John Goodman’s Walter Sobchak character in Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1998 cult classic The Big Lebowski is reportedly loosely based on him (read here).

Here is a youtube link to the film’s American trailer

 

Moviedrome Mondays: Razorback (1984)

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I know I am a little late on this one, but I could not help it, I was busy celebrating Easter yesterday 🙂 I agree with a lot of the things that Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox says about this 1984 Australian monster flick (read here). Contrary to Cox though, I am a huge fan of the “rock video school of film-making” (in his own words) that he details in that link above. The plot of this horror film revolves around the hunt for a vicious boar in Australia. What makes it fascinating lies not so much in the premise as it does in how it is executed. In this case, it is told through it’s use of fast cuts, tracking shots and use of glowing lights, “neo-noir” lighting, windblown drapery, and fans. All of these are trademarks of Australian director Russell Mulcahy according to wikipedia’s entry on him (read here). Though more well-known for directing music videos for singers like Elton John or bands like Duran Duran to name just two examples of each, Mulcahy would go on to direct the 1986 cult classic Highlander (he would also direct Highlander II: The Quickening five years later in 1991). If I were to single out two highlights of Razorback, it would be Dean Semler’s dreamy cinematography and (as Cox mentions in the link above) a surrealistic dream sequence somewhere during the middle of the film.

Since I could not find a video link to Alex Cox’s introduction, here is a link to the transcript of the Moviedrome episode that originally premiered on May 29, 1988.

Here is a youtube link to two trailers below. This one may be for the Australian market:

 

This youtube link is one for the American market:

Moviedrome Mondays: Diva (1981)

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Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox did not seem to be a fan of this dazzling 1981 French cult thriller entitled Diva. The film was directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix and while he has directed other movies after this one (Moon in the Gutter and Betty Blue to name just two examples), Diva still remains (at least for me) his best work. The film’s visual style is rooted in a 1980’s French film movement labeled Cinema du look. According to French-born, but British-based academic/critic Ginette Vincendeau (a Professor of Film Studies at King’s College London), Cinema du look films were driven by their “high investment in non-naturalistic, self-conscious aesthetics, notably intense colours and lighting effects. Their spectacular (studio based) and technically brilliant mise-en-scène is usually put to the service of romantic plots.” Aside from Beineix, fellow French filmmakers Luc Besson and Leos Carax also contributed greatly to this movement. According to French film critic and journalist Raphael Bassan, Beineix, Besson and Carax serve as the main directors of the movement (read here). With the exception of Carax, Beineix and Besson have found themselves frequently criticized for displaying this style in their films (read here). Either that, or maybe it is the way they display it? Even If I disagree with Cox here, I do love the way he talks about it in the link below.

First, here is a link to the Diva Moviedrome episode transcript. The episode’s original airdate was May 22, 1988.

Second, here is a youtube link below of Alex Cox’s introduction to Diva.

 

And finally, here is a link to the original theatrical trailer below (or at least the closest I can come to finding an original theatrical trailer for it).