Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mutated Warren Oates Welcomes You To: MY ANSWERS!!! (for LERNER INTERNATIONAL’s First Quiz!)



A few weeks ago, LERNER INTERNATIONAL entered that great filmblogger tradition and
posted questions for its first quiz, The “Silver Medal”/“Favorite That’s Not” Quiz—
At the time I wrote: “One thing that bugs me most about some movie quizzes… is the lack of bandwidth, with the same answers appearing from all contestants.”
So I quiz you to find out stuff I don’t know! 

Quizzes are fun when they stimulate the ganglia and stir up the opinion-soup simmering in your brain—especially if you’re a film geek who needs to share your arcana with others.
That’s why Cinephiles tend to be different from every other gaggle of otaku: They like to share info. It’s like a thermonuclear doomsday machine, what’s the point if you keep it a secret?

And it’s with quizzes like these that we exchange our secrets.


First off, a huge thanks to all the participants!
LERNER INTERNATIONAL especially wants to thank Joseph B.'s It's a Mad Mad Blog 2 and SqDave's The Zed Zee Conundrum for posting their answers on their own sites, please visit them and enjoy their responses.

Meanwhile, various readers left their answers in the comments of the quiz post—and since regular reader Toestubber has actually sent me copies of several of the flicks he champions, I know I’ll be watching Angst and Confessions of an Opium Addict soon(ish)…

Readers’ answers quite often intersected with mine (Hickey & Boggs FTW!!!), but just as often surprised me with something new or caused me to slap my forehead with a “Damn! I forgot that one!”—thanks to everyone who reminded me of The Honeymoon Killers, a flick that somehow seems sadly undiscovered. You’d think having Martin Scorsese’s name attached to it would have given the film more cache…

All in all, your answers were an information-overload that I am too ill-equipped to cross-reference properly—except to say that following the links will lead to a plethora of new film info.

That said, just because I am posting my answers doesn’t mean this quiz ever has to end.
If you are a “follower” (love ya!) or regular reader (love you, too, but why aren’t you “following” yet? It’s easy to do!) of LERNER INTERNATIONAL, and haven’t answered the quiz yet, until
The Great Electromagnetic Pulse takes us all to that dimension we’ve never seen, there is still time to do so

Meanwhile, it’s awesome to note that my quiz, as inspired as it was by the stellar work of sites like Sergio Leone and  the Infield Fly Rule and The Girl With The White Parasol, has managed to inspire someone else!
The Most Excellent SqDave, proprietor of The Zed Zee Conundrum (gesundheit!), has posted his own quiz (scroll down at his site)! And it’s a great one! I’ll be posting my answers to it soon (when I recover from this darn megapost) and everyone reading this should check it out as well!

(As for the photos illustrating this post, sorry that their position isn’t always with the accompanying article/info; quite often “cool image” wins over “logical placement.”)

And now,
MY ANSWERS!!!

1.) Favorite Warren Oates perf that’s not in a Peckinpah or Monte Hellman movie?
92 in the Shade, Tom McGuane’s bit of Florida Keys weirdness (which some might call an unholy mess—and I wouldn’t argue per se), starring Oates and Peter Fonda (later to co-star together in Race With the Devil) as rival charter-fishermen, with plenty of bizarro dialog, and a supporting cast of delightful burn-outs, including Harry Dean Stanton and a very sexy Margot Kidder.
This film is Ne Plus Ultra of 1970s “personal,” go-nowhere cinema—with an incredible scene of Oates describing his post-fishing life as Arnold Palmer’s caddy

Runner-Ups:
Stripes (1981; Ivan Reitman) Who doesn’t love Sgt. Hulka?
“The Mutant” episode (1964; Alan Crosland, Jr.) from The Outer Limits, where he’s a pathetic, but murderous astronaut, with wild makeup over his eyes (see above).
Badlands (1973; Terrence Malick) Toestubber and SqDave reminded me of this one; Oates is almost silent but his face speaks volumes.
In the Heat of the Night (1967; Norman Jewison) Oates could always play “stupid” great—he’s one of the few actors convincing when he portrayed less-than-intelligent characters, and here he’s a dumb sheriff’s deputy hindering the case.
Dillinger (1973; John Milius) Oates may be a tad one-note, but it’s his first “headliner,” and he’s ferocious! Good action, too. (Flick’s got some third-act structure problems, though.)
“Welcome, Stranger” (1965; Alvin Ganzer) from Lost in Space; Oates plays a Space Cowboy in this wonderfully stupid episode. But probably one of the first times Oates is a sympathetic and comedic character. He also has a laconic chemistry with Robot, Will Robinson and Dr. Smith, and personally, I would’ve loved to see just the four of them on goofy comic book-like adventures in the cosmos.

2.) Favorite Spaghetti Western not directed by Sergio Leone?
Since I’m not including Zapata Westerns [see question #4], I am severely limiting myself.
What comes to mind is
Cut-Throats Nine (1972; Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent)—This flick is just…insane
You can watch it HERE, and calling it morally reprehensible would not be wrong.

Choosing this sleazy “feel-bad” epic of revenge and mayhem over, say, Django (which I’ve seen, but oh so long ago), means that I probably haven’t seen as many Spaghetti Westerns as I should have, but I’ll tell ya:
Westerns are not a fave genre of mine. I wind up watching a lot of them because I’m a fan of action and violence (and also enjoy films set in deserts), and horse operas tend to have these in spades—especially when the oaters in question are revisionist, politicized or mutated in some way from the “normal” white hat/black hat scenarios.
Personally, I regard the John Wayne-buttressed Myth of the West to be a horrible lie, and many, many Westerns to be knuckleheaded propaganda for a bloodthirsty, imperialistic, conquest-focused mindset.

But segments of the overall Western Film genre dovetail nicely with my tastes, for sure, and I love how elements of Spaghetti Westerns influence something like Jodoworsky’s El Topo (1970) or even Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood (2007)—which is as if Stanley Kubrick wound up working at Cinecittà in the mid-1960s, and decided to use his footage of Africa from the beginning of 2001 for a Sergio Leone script he’s swiped and rewritten and super-intellectualized, while at the same time subverted by having characters act entirely brutally and in an animalistic manner.

Not so much of a stretch is the mean-spirited Chato’s Land (1970), starring Charles Bronson as a Native American doing the “Rambo” to a racist-asshole posse chasing him down.
Shot in Spain, on some of the same locations Leone had used, the flick looks and feels like a Spaghetti Western, but the primary crew and cast were UK/American. If only it had been directed by “Michelangelo Vincitore” instead of Michael Winner….

(Will I see Tarantino’s Django Unchained? Probably, eventually…)

3.) Favorite John Ford film that’s not a Western or set in Ireland?
They Were Expendable (1945): It’s the start of The Great Pacific War, and small squadron of PT boats must sacrifice everything to keep the Imperial Japanese Navy at bay.
I’ve seen this film multiple times and I’m always moved. Huge Sacrifice in a World of Zero Slack is the theme—pulse-pounding action is augmented with bittersweet romance, and all hearts are heavy, leading to one of the saddest endings ever. Not just a great war or action movie, but a classic American film—you are manipulated throughout, no doubt, but in such a masterful, logical manner that it isn’t offensive.
Jingoism is at a minimum (by 1945, a good film didn’t need to hammer home the negative aspects of The Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere), and patriotism in They Were Expendable is presented via competent hard work that often requires selfless sacrifice for a greater good: This film could be dubbed into any language and be successful. (I wonder if Stalin ever saw it, and what he thought?)
They Were Expendable is a film that I sit and watch routinely every few years.

4.) Fave Zapata Western not Duck You Sucker!?
I like Zapata Westerns because they’re all about REVOLUTION! and STICKING IT TO THE MAN!

A Bullet for the General (1966; Damiano Damiani) is one of the best of this sub-genre, and one liked by many readers.

Runner-Ups:
The Wild Bunch (1969; Sam Peckinpah) Amoral Yankee mercenaries getting involved in the Mexican Revolution? Sounds like a Zapata Western to me!
The Mercenary (1968; Sergio Corbucci) 
Extreme Prejudice (1987; Walter Hill) (perhaps a stretch…

5.) Favorite Clint Eastwood-directed film that’s not Unforgiven or Play Misty for Me?
High Plains Drifter (1973)
Gran Torino (2008)
Bird (1988)

Clint’s Interesting Failures Worth Renting/Guilty Pleasures:
The Gauntlet (1977)
A Perfect World (1993)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
(However, with the exception of Eli Wallach’s cameo—oh, to be a fly on the wall that day!—I couldn’t stand Mystic River, mainly because of my allergy to Sean Penn and his loathsome “ACTING.”)

6.) Favorite Don Siegel film that’s not Charley Varrick, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or Dirty Harry?
TIE:
The Line-Up (1958)—which is a fave of many, so just see it if you haven’t already. And if you’re viewing the DVD absolutely make sure to listen to novelist James Ellroy’s commentary: It’s informative, hilarious and profane—a joy!

The Beguiled (1971) is nerve-wracking hot-house sensuality as wounded Civil War soldier Clint Eastwood plays a house full of horny women against one another. Had this film been dubbed into French or Italian, it would have been recognized as a classic much sooner.

I love the Lee Marvin/Clu Gulager scenes in The Killers (1964), but the Cassavettes flashbacks are a snooze—I should watch the film again, but “Lady, I don’t have the time.”

One flick of Siegel’s I’m dying to see is Joseph B.'s pick The Black Windmill (1974), but I don’t think it’s ever been available for home viewing….

7.) Fave Ken Russell film that’s not The Devils, Tommy or Altered States?
As an adult, I’m rediscovering Russell’s films (RIP, Ken) and I am really understanding them and appreciating them even more now, especially his “smaller,” more “personal” films. I guess life has opened my eyes on some things…

Of these, Savage Messiah (1972) is the best—the greatest crystallization of the director’s themes and beliefs regarding Art and The Creative Process—but my other faves are
The Music Lovers (1970) Whew, this is a tough movie to sit through—concentrating specifically on Tchaikovsky’s homosexuality (and his ridiculous and pathetic marriage/beard to a nymphomaniac)—it’s loaded with PAIN. Beautiful music, cinematography and filmmaking skills aimed at presenting a tale that oozes and drips with sadness. The movie is way ahead of its time in its honesty presenting the closeted queer life of 1880’s Russia, and it’s no wonder the squares back in the day couldn’t handle this flick.
A “feel bad” epic, The Music Lovers is available on Netflix InstaView, and has been given a DVD-on-demand release via Warner Bros.—see it soon!

Billion-Dollar Brain (1967) was Russell’s first “big job,” and the contrast/conflict brought about by his personal visions and the “creative” decisions imposed upon him being a “director for hire” for producer Harry Saltzman are wonderful.
It’s as weird and over-the-top, while comically paranoid and erotically suspenseful (Francois Dorleac is stunning!), as you would expect a “James Bond movie directed by Ken Russell” to be.

8.) Fave WWII gore/intensity/nastiness, that’s not Saving Private Ryan or Come and See?
Black Sun 731 (1988; Mou Tun-fei) a.k.a. Men Behind the Sun, a better title, I think: more poetic, and more evocative of the cruelties to come. A Chinese film about Japanese medical camp war atrocities and one of the most grueling films to ever sit through.
Cross of Iron (1977; Sam Peckinpah) Of course when Peckinpah got around to tackling WWII, he’d have his protagonists be, if not Nazis, then members of the Wermacht circa 1942,on the Russian front, getting their asses kicked.
My Name Is Ivan (1962; Andrei Tarkovsky) a.k.a. Ivan’s Childhood—after seeing this, I finally got why the Rooskies hated the Krauts—called “Fritzes” here—so much. Incredibly moving, beautifully shot and, while without mammoth action sequences, so intense it’s nerve-wracking.

9.) Fave “Savage Cinema” that’s not the original Straw Dogs or The Last House on the Left?
Hostel: Part II (2007; Eli Roth) The commoditization of humans brutally presented with sick, sick humor.
The Lord of the Flies (1963; Peter Brooks) Nary a drop of blood is seen, but with a raw intensity that is truly unnerving.

10.) Fave conspiracy film that’s not Oliver Stone’s JFK or Alan J. Pakula’s The Parallax View?
The Power of Nightmares (2004; Adam Curtis) And it’s true!
Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America (1991; Craig Baldwin) Ditto!
Executive Action (1973; David Miller) Ditto!
Z (1969; Costa-Gavras) Ditto!
The Third Generation (1979; Rainer Werner Fassbinder) Ditto!

[Winter Kills (1979; William Richert) was several readers’ choice for this question, and while a good flick, I prefer Richard Condon’s novel more.]

11.) Fave Left-Wing director that is not Michael Moore, Costa-Gavras or Oliver Stone (not that I consider Stone genuinely left-wing; I think he’s more of a sleeper-agent selling discount rebellion to moviegoers)?
Peter Watkins—must see: The War Game (1965); Punishment Park (1971) 
Gillo Pontecorvo—must see: The Battle of Algiers (1966); Burn! (1969)
Adam Curtis—must see: The Power of Nightmares (2004)

12.) Favorite screenwriter not William Goldman, Billy Wilder, Robert Towne, Ernest Lehman, Charlie Kaufman or Quentin Tarantino?
Franco Solinas (collaborator with Pontecorvo, Costa-Gavras, Joseph Losey and the co-writer of several Zapata Westerns including A Bullet for the General)
John Milius
Walter Hill
Jean-Claude Carrière (frequent collaborator with Bunuel, Milos Forman, Philip Kaufman and other idiosyncratic filmmakers)
Terry Southern
Charles B. Griffith (author of Attack of the Crab Monsters, Death Race 2000, The Little Shop of Horrors and a whole mess of other Roger Corman flicks)

13.) Favorite alien not designed (or based on a design) by HR Giger, or that is the extraterrestrial from John Carpenter’s The Thing?
Space germ from The Andromeda Strain (1971; Robert Wise).
Black Oil from The X-Files
The invisible alien from the “They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be...” (a.k.a. “UFO”) episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974).

Sentimental Favorites: the vicious extraterrestrials from The War of the Worlds and Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, as well as the planet-X people and their DEVO outfits from Monster Zero.

14.) Favorite Biker Movie that is not Easy Rider, The Wild One or The Wild Angels?
I’ve gone on and on about my love of biker movies before, but outside the above mentioned, for absolute motorcycle gang madness—and I’m warning ya, I like ’em mean—LERNER INTERNATIONAL recommends:
Gimme Shelter (1970; Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin)
Cycle Savages (1969; Bill Brame) You can’t go wrong with Bruce Dern going apeshit!
Satan’s Sadists (1968; Al Adamson)
Stone Cold (1991; Craig R. Baxley) You can’t go wrong with Lance Henriksen going apeshit!
Stone (1974; Sandy Harbutt) Australian MC viciousness!
And I’m a big fan of Kurt Sutter’s ongoing TV show Sons of Anarchy—as honest and pure an evocation of white trash outlaw life as a well-done piece of van art.

15.) Favorite robot not from Forbidden Planet or the Star Wars movies?
Then Huey, Louie and Dewey—but I’m so glad there was much reader love for Ro-Man of Robot Monster and the murdering machines of Westworld.

16.) Fave “one-shot wonder” (solo directing credit) that’s not The Night of the Hunter?
The Honeymoon Killers (1970; Leonard Kastle)
Hickey & Boggs (1972; Robert Culp)
Beware! The Blob! (1972; Larry Hagman—RIP)
And let’s not forget Walter Murch’s incredible Return to OZ (1985). Whew, gotta watch it again!

17.) Fave car chase not in a Philip D'Antoni film:
The Driver (1978; Walter Hill)
Runner-ups:
Fear Is the Key (1972; Michael Tuchner)—a bad movie that has an incredible, almost 15 minute chase.
Ronin (1998; John Frankenheimer)

FYI: D'Antoni is an unsung hero to gearheads everywhere, and was the producer-director of The Seven Ups, as well as the producer of The French Connection and Bullitt, and had ace stunt driver Bill Hickman (picture above) in all three of those films as a driver and actor. (Hickman also plays an assassin—but no car chases in Robert Culp’s Hickey & Boggs—another reason to see that film.)

18.) Fave religious film not based on a characters or a story in The Bible?
Frailty (2001; Bill Paxton) Whaddya know? God did tell that guy to kill…
(Toestubber mentioned The Rapture, and I’m kicking myself really hard for forgetting that one…)

19.) Fave Disaster Movie that’s not The Poseidon Adventure (1972)?
Earthquake (1974; Mark Robson; matte effects by Albert Whitlock)
Threads (1984; Mick Jackson) TOTAL FUCKING NUCLEAR WAR, and one of the bleakest films ever.

Sentimental Favorite: Crack in the World (1965; Andrew Marton)

The Neu-Dizaster Porn (and subject of a future essay)
2012/The Day After Tomorrow/The Core

Has anyone seen 1935’s The Last Days of Pompeii? The effects by Willis O’Brien are supposed to be impressive…

20.) Favorite Spielberg film to hate that’s not Hook?
The Sugarland Express
Schindler’s List
Saving Private Ryan
Thankfully I haven’t seen them all—so many look horrible! For more gripes, go HERE.

Spielberg’s trouble is lack of balance: a flick like War of the Worlds has many incredible, absolutely epic scenes—that are completely undermined by dumbass “family” hijinks. Ugh. Spielberg’s as schizoid as the nation that made him rich.

21.) Favorite Giant Monster that’s not Godzilla or the 1933 King Kong?
All of them?
Gamera
Gorgo (which for some weird reason has been the most popular post at my fraternal site Ivanlandia…)
Ghidrah
Pendragon after he’s transformed at the end of Jack the Giant Killer
So many more….

BONUS QUESTIONS
Here’s where I owe all participants in My First Quiz a major round of applause: y’all have given me plenty of new flicks to hunt down—thank you!

BONUS NUMBER ONE
English-language movie that blows your mind, that no one knows about, that’s hard to see, that you want to get on a rooftop and shout about:
[All of these movies, if I haven’t already, will be the subject of longer essays in the future…]

Up Tight (1968; Jules Dassin)—finally on DVD; hooray! There's a great, in-depth essay about it HERE
The Year of the Sex Olympics (1968; Michael Elliott; written by Nigel Kneale)
The Twonky (1953; Arch Oboler)
Lili (1953; Charles Walters)
Salvage (2006; Jeff and Josh Crook) 
Coonskin (1974; Ralph Bakshi)—finally on DVD; hooray! 
Fresh (1994; Boaz Yakin) (see Bonus #3)
The Ninth Configuration (1980; William Peter Blatty)

BONUS NUMBER TWO
Foreign-language movie that blows your mind, that no one knows about, that’s hard to see, that you want to get on a rooftop and shout about:
Pigs and Battleships (1961; Shohei Imamura)
Giants & Toys (1958; Yasuzo Masumura)
King Lear (1971; Grigori Kozintsev and Iosif Shapiro)
Godzilla’s Revenge (1969; Ishirô Honda)(written about HERE)
Mademoiselle (1966; Tony Richardson, written by Marguerite Duras based on a story by Jean Genet)

BONUS NUMBER THREE
Fave “personal apocalypse” ending to a film, with the protagonist shattered, staring ahead dead-eyed:
At the conclusion of each of these films, the lead character has learned a terrible knowledge at an awful price, and we see it etched into their faces, their souls crushed underneath…
Lawrence of Arabia (1962; David Lean)
Naked (1993; Mike Leigh)
Trees Lounge (1996; Steve Buscemi)
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974; Michael Cimino)
Fresh (1994; Boaz Yakin)—a 10-year-old chess protégé uses his skills to destroy a gang of drug dealers from within; it may sound “Encyclopedia Brown” but the film is emotionally devastating.

Honestly, if you haven’t seen any of the flicks listed in the BONUS section, put them on your list and hunt them down toot sweet!

Once again, a mega-huge-extra-special THANX to everyone who participated!

5 comments:

  1. This was great fun, Ivan. BTW, in further appreciation of Bill Hickman, as Robert Culp said in an interview, it was Bill who did that great two-wheel stunt (as Bond) with the Mustang in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER. The man was something with a car!

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  2. If you liked Giants & Toys, then you gotta see Masumura's BLACK TEST CAR!

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  3. Le0pard: Dang, I forgot Hickman did that stunt (that was almost ruined by bad editing, I seem to remember: from one angle the car is up on its right wheels, the next on its left wheels...) But I still like DaF!

    SqDave: Yes, Black Test Car! Been meaning to see that!
    Thanks for visiting!
    --Ivan

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  4. RED ALERT!
    Because of technical problems, LIE good buddy Otto Mannix (http://ottomannixreport.blogspot.com/) could not post his answers here himself, so the helpful gremlins at HQ are always obliging....

    OTTO MANNIX ANSWERS to LIE's FIRST QUIZ--
    1. Oates: Race With The Devil
    2. Spaghetti: Sabata
    3. John Ford: Grapes of Wrath
    5. Eastweed: The Outlaw Josey Wales
    6. Siegel: The Killers (I saw the beginning of The Line-up, and it looked good, but i didn't see the whole thing)
    8. WWII: i don't know any particularly gory ones, but i like Downfall.
    9. Savage: Lady in a Cage
    10. Conspiracy: North by Northwest or The Conversation
    11. Left-wing: none
    14. Biker: Hell's Angels '69
    15. Robot: Westworld's gunfighter, Brynner
    17. Chase: Ronin
    18. Religious: Amityville II: The Possession
    19. Disaster: Earthquake
    20. Spielberg: Schindler's List

    OTTO says, "I see someone posted ON ANY SUNDAY for the biker selection. I was tempted to write that too, but it's not really what you're looking for. Great movie though."

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