Categories

  • Home
  • |
  • |
  • News
  • Additional Information

    Site Information

     Loading... Please wait...

    News

    Tough, Unstoppable Rain

    Posted by Mike Finnegan on

    A Fulbright scholar, trained at Stanford and Harvard, a one-time fiction instructor at Yale, Judith Rascoe, who turned 76 last week, may have seemed like an unusual choice to collaborate on the screenplay adaptation of Robert Stone’s gritty 1975 National Book Award-winning novel Dog Soldiers, about Vietnam War veterans opportunistically drawn into stateside drug smuggling after leaving the battle zone. But Stone found her early writing perceptive and smart, and he welcomed her help in bringing his tough, uncompromising story to the screen. Like her, the British veteran Karel Reisz (Morgan!, Isadora, The Gambler) also seemed an off-kilter choice to direct a tale of jolting violence and amorality, yet he too saw a way into working through the dark material. In May 2014, Rascoe told Money-into-Light.com interviewer Paul Rowlands of an early conversation with Reisz: “I remember asking him one time, ‘Why do you want to make this film? What do you find interesting particularly?’ He replied, ‘I am interested in what happens when a nation dishonors its war heroes.’ The title of the book Dog Soldiers refers to the fact that some Native Indian tribes would select certain young men and designate them as 'dog soldiers.' They were then treated as very special beings. They got all the best food and treats that the tribe had. But the price they had to pay was that they had to be unstinting, and go out and die if needed for the tribe. I think Karel saw some of this in the story of Hicks [the Merchant Marine to be played by Nick Nolte] and what had happened to him in Vietnam.” So the story of a military man (Nolte), persuaded by a cynical journalist pal (Michael Moriarty) to bring home to Berkeley a cache of heroin from which a potentially big score could be made, became a story about the psychic scars of war in a year when the heavy shadow of Vietnam would loom large on movie screens courtesy of February’s Coming Home and The Boys in Company C, September’s Go Tell the Spartans and December’s The Deer Hunter. Renamed for the interpolated Creedence Clearwater Revival song, Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978), also starring Tuesday Weld as Moriarty’s flaky and fragile wife drawn to Nolte’s courier loner, and Anthony Zerbe, Richard Masur, Ray Sharkey and Charles Haid as lowlifes who cause a world of hurt in pursuit of the fugitives and their heroin stash, arrived mid-batch in August to strong reviews from several critics like David Ansen and Roger Ebert – and a rave from The Washington Post’s Gary Arnold that United Artists prominently employed in its press materials (read it here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1978/08/09/rain-a-knockout-adventure-destined-to-become-a-classic/3bdb6e79-13e0-4a85-9e50-c4bc14cef5be/?utm_term=.fe3c4f8ff541). But audiences didn’t heed the call, as might be feared for a film chock-a-block with morally compromised rogues instead of clear-cut heroes and a complex blend of war story/romance/chase thriller and would have benefitted from more nuanced marketing muscle. Reminiscing three years ago, Rascoe remains satisfied with the final product. “I watched it the other day and I was surprised that it didn't date at all,” she told Rowlands. “It was of its day but it was very honest and it didn't try to be more with it or less with it. It told its story in a straightforward fashion. You know, I think the problems we addressed in the film are still with us.” Who’ll Stop the Rain “does an excellent job of symbolizing the death of idealism in the late 1960s through corruption, loss of faith in one’s leaders, and the war” and is “a well-made, tough movie that might have been a 1940s film noir” (Jay Robert Nash and Stanley Ralph Ross, The Motion Picture Guide). “Characters are memorable, casting is perfect, dialogue is sharp and imaginative, and direction of actors strong. It’s good to see Moriarty in a non-neurotic role; and Nolte, looking fit, is an action hero to rival Rambo. What’s most rewarding is that we’re made privy to a fascinating true-to-life storyline that other directors wouldn’t touch because there is no ‘hero’ fighting for what we’d think is a worthy cause” (Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic). Twilight Time’s hi-def Blu-ray includes an Isolated Music Track of Laurence Rosenthal’s score. There’s also a 2017 interview with Supervising Editor John Bloom reflecting on the film and director Reisz, with whom he’d reunite on The French Lieutenant’s Woman and Everybody Wins (also starring Nolte). Who’ll Stop the Rain debuts May 16. Preorders open May 3.

    Audrey's Hall Mark

    The experience of seeing films at Radio City Music Hall in its cinematic showcase prime was like that of no other movie palace in the U.S., although residents of other nations may lay claim to their premier exhibition temples. One of the Hall’s best tour guides to fascinating characters in exotic places from the early 1950s through the mid-1970s was [...]

    Read More »


    Big Man in a 3D Wilderness

    To put a jolt into declining movie attendance, Twentieth Century Fox chief Darryl F. Zanuck was focused on championing Cinemascope, a widescreen process that would engulf audiences with the expanse of its image, and kicking the format off with his studio’s massive, eye-filling Biblical epic The Robe in September 1953. However, he also wouldn’t be left out of another headline-grabbing filmmaking/exhibition [...]

    Read More »


    From Street Corner to Center Stage

    American stage and screen acting dynamo Al Pacino turns 77 today and 50 years in the public eye has brought him a long way. As recounted in Al Pacino: In Conversation with Lawrence Grobel, on the occasion of a 2005 American Cinematheque tribute to the Oscar® and two-time Emmy® and Tony® winner, “James Caan remembered how, during The Godfather, Pacino was [...]

    Read More »


    A Cultural Force Turns 75

    In the introduction to his 2016 critical study Barbra Streisand: Redefining Beauty, Femininity, and Power, film historian Neal Gabler writes: “It may seem peculiar to freight an entertainer with that much psychological and cultural weight, but Streisand isn’t just an entertainer. She has long been a cultural force – the kind of personality who inspires effusions, poems (Wayne Koestenbaum’s Streisand Sings Stravinsky), [...]

    Read More »


    A Voyage Round Bunny Lake

    Born 94 years ago today, celebrated writer/barrister John Mortimer (1923-2009), beloved for his creations of the incorrigibly unflappable Rumpole of the Bailey and the autobiographical A Voyage Round My Father, aided and abetted many great artistic collaborations through the decades in addition to being a solo author. Aspects of his legal and personal lives would filter into his works, just as [...]

    Read More »


    The Chivalrous Heart

    What led him to be in films? “I had to make a living.” What kind of film work interested him the most? “As I get older, my tastes changed, but I like movies that pierce the human heart, and linger with me.” Those simple, direct answers to Japan Subculture Research Center interviewer Jake Adelstein came from Japanese cinema great Ken [...]

    Read More »


    Six Degrees of Scorpio Connections

    The age of institutional paranoia and conspiratorial malevolence was coming into full cinematic flower in the early 1970s, and one espionage thriller arrived on the cusp of it all. Opening in theaters 44 years ago today, Scorpio (1973) starred Hollywood icon Burt Lancaster as a seasoned and world-weary CIA operative who, due to his unerring expertise and knowledge of all [...]

    Read More »


    Two Absolute Challenges at Close Range

    Imagine working inside the marketing and publicity departments at Orion Pictures on this date in 1986. The two movies the company launched simultaneously in U.S. theaters, each daringly different efforts bankrolled by British producing partners, required huge amounts of tender loving care and positive critical attention in order to lure filmgoers to their challenging subject matter and brazenly assaultive styles. Neither [...]

    Read More »


    It Might As Well Be...July Gratifaction

    Heart-on-its-sleeve Americana meets hard-charging and laugh-inducing walks on the wild side in the 5-movie/4-disc Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray roster for July, with return engagements of writer/directors Samuel Fuller and Woody Allen and delightful label debuts for two legendary songwriting duos, all arrive in scintillating 1080p with (where available) isolated music tracks providing added fireworks. Coming July 18 are: The Crimson Kimono (1959), starring [...]

    Read More »