Day 4/5 of SNUFF

A '70s triple bill starting with Rolling Thunder from 1977, an extremely difficult film to track down for some reason with a great performance by William Devane. Devane plays a released Vietnam POW who returns to San Antonio to a hero's welcome after 7 years of brutal captivity - only to find a wife whose fallen in love with someone else and a son who doesn't remember him. The locals give him a Caddy and 2000 silver dollars, one for everyday of his captivity, but soon after, bad dudes show up to steal the cash. They garbarate his hand (see the face one makes when that happens to the right), murder his family and leave him for dead.“Armed” with about 700 guns, a sharpened prosthetic hook, and Tommy Lee Jones, the Major goes a huntin'. As revenge films go, they don't come much revengier than Rolling Thunder. Winner!

Next up was the nearly indescribable (some would say - mostly unwatchable) Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street, made by director Sam Fuller for German TV in 1972. The whole thing is in English, which seems odd for a German TV program. It's a little like Fassbinder directing an episode of Kojak entirely in German. Truth be told, Dead Pigeon is monumentally awful, the script borders on hallucinatory and the acting …. dear lord, the acting ….is... just breathtakingly hopeless.

And yet it's strangely riveting. If Bresson made minimalist films, then Fuller's style could only be described as maximulist. To cite an example from the surreal Dead Pigeon, there's an extended scene where the lead is trailing a woman through the streets of Bonn. He can't be more than 3 steps behind her the entire time and it becomes clear that Fuller is just fucking with us. If she stopped quickly, he'd run right into her and it just gets loopier from there. The final scene can be watched here if you want to get a sense of just how bizarre this TV film is. Acting Brilliant!

Lastly, I finished Chandler tonight, a neo-noir from 1971 that's about 1/100th as good as Altman's The Long Goodbye with Elliot Gould from a couple of years later. Warren Oates, on the other hand is perfectly cast as a down and out P.I. and it makes you wish he'd been cast in place of Gould in Altman's mini-masterpiece. Now that would have been something. Somebody named Paul Magwood directed Chandler and while it isn't as awful as the IMDb user comments would suggest, Magwood never directed anything else for reasons that become obvious as the film wears on. It often feels like a shitty episode of Mannix, but Oates's performance makes it almost worthy of the time invested. An interesting total failure. (You'll notice Oates is sporting the then-popular garbarator face for the poster)


the coelacanth said...

yes! so happy that rolling thunder is finally "available". looking forward to it immensely. i wanna check dead pigeon just because it sounds so ludicrous, and because of its reputation. chandler i may pass on, but oates is always a treat. how many shitty films did his presence alone save?

i've been intently reading your SNUFF entries with great interest and a smile on my face, and look forward to the next one each day. sad to see the series will be coming to an end soon.

Dropkick said...

Rolling thunder is fantastic, if only revenge movies of today could get the formula right. tsk tsk to Taken, Days of Darkness, and Law-Abiding Citizen.