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    Peckinpah in Montage

    Posted by Mike Finnegan on

    Today would have marked the 92nd birthday of the great Sam Peckinpah (1925-1984) and 20 years ago at this time, in an occurrence that would prove not only rare but indeed singular, a short film created from new footage, home movies, interviews and reminiscences covering the production of his best-regarded movie became a newly-minted Academy Award® nominee for Best Documentary Short Subject. The movie being paid tribute was of course The Wild Bunch (1969) and the elegiac and ruminative 34-minute short, The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage (1996), produced and narrated by Twilight Time co-founder Nick Redman and directed by esteemed Peckinpah scholar, film editor, director and educator Paul Seydor, represented the only time that an examination of the production and impact of an iconic film would be so honored with Oscar® attention. It didn’t take home the statue, but then again neither did The Wild Bunch’s Peckinpah, a Best Original Screenplay nominee (along with collaborators Walon Green and Roy N. Sickner), nor composer Jerry Fielding, a Best Original Score nominee, for the original. Since awards by their definition only go to a rarefied few titles each year, the Peckinpah oeuvre has merely but happily thrived as the endless object of warts-and-all study, devotion and celebration by the maverick moviemaker’s legion of admirers. So the scholarly thumbprints of Redman (who wrote and directed another short, the 2005 A Simple Adventure Story: Sam Peckinpah, Mexico and The Wild Bunch), Seydor and Peckinpah colleagues/chroniclers Garner Simmons and David Weddle are all over the various home video releases of the director’s movies across several studio libraries and labels, unpacking each for their filmmaking foibles, canonical connections and resonating values. Four have had pride of place in the TT hi-def Blu-ray hall of fame: the now-sold-out Major Dundee (1965) and the still-available Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974), The Killer Elite (1975, featuring the rarely seen and acclaimed 1966 Katharine Anne Porter adaptation Noon Wine and available here: http://www.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/27855/THE-KILLER-ELITE-1975-NOON-WINE-1966/) and the Peckinpah-scripted The Glory Guys (1965, directed by Arnold Laven). And the scrappy, hard-living, Hollywood-defying, hell-raising tale-spinner Peckinpah would likely crack a crooked smile and raise a toast to that.

    Temperature Rising: May-June Lineup

    The 11 films (on 10 discs) kicking off Summer 2017 on the Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray label crank up the action heat with hard-hitting criminal conspiracies (two involving TT favorite Charles Bronson) and expertly told war sagas. Yet there’s also room for quieter, lesser-known personal stories from veteran directors as well, along with another splendid 3D title that [...]

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    Lou at 55 Meets La Bamba at 30

    “Lightning in a bottle” and “my Cinderella story” are the two characterizations Lou Diamond Phillips, the prolific actor-director turning 55 today, applies to his big-screen breakout role as singer/songwriter/guitarist Ritchie Valens in writer/director Luis Valdez’s fondly remembered musical biopic La Bamba (1987). Although on the film shoot the non-Latino Phillips was himself already seven years older than the 17-year-old Valens was [...]

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    François’ Femmes Fatales

    Isabelle Huppert’s fearless and enigmatic performance in director Paul Verhoeven’s controversial Elle, already the winner of the 2016 Best Actress Golden Globe and prizes from the Los Angeles, New York and National Society of Film Critics and up for similar honors at the upcoming César Awards on the 24th and Hollywood’s Academy Awards on the 26th, stands boldly in the [...]

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    Third Man Duo's Third Time Out

    The Fallen Idol (1948) and The Third Man (1949), two collaborations of author Graham Greene and director Carol Reed, were considered excellent in their day and masterworks today. A similar reception did not result in their 10-years-later reunion on Our Man in Havana (1959), but nonetheless there’s a sufficient amount of espionage spoofery, droll performances, worldly commentary on bureaucratic gamesmanship [...]

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    Valentine to Thelma

    In addition to significant others, another worthy subset of Valentine’s Day honorees getting the hearts/flowers/hugs treatment are that of moms or mother figures. How appropriate too that February 14 is the birthday of character actress supreme Thelma Ritter (1902-1969), who played many witty and salty maternal roles on screen to a Brooklyn-accented fare-thee-well. Nominated six times for the Best Supporting Actress [...]

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    War Dogs X 2

    American moviegoers experiencing the fierce and intelligent screen adaptation of Frederick Forsyth’s 1974 novel The Dogs of War (1980) when it opened stateside 36 years ago today saw a version of the film 15 minutes shorter than the one British cinemagoers saw two months prior. That wasn’t an impediment for admirers like The New York Times’ Vincent Canby, who pronounced it [...]

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    The Goldsmith Flame

    What the Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray discs of Lilies of the Field (1963), Fate Is the Hunter (1964), The Detective (1968), Under Fire (1983), The Russia House (1990) and The Vanishing (1993) have in common is that they are infused with the melodic beauty and versatility provided by legendary Hollywood composer Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2014), born 88 years ago today, and highlighted [...]

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    Growing Hardcore

    Among movies that were emblematic of their eras but fell in perception just below the pantheon level and faded from memory, writer/director Paul Schrader’s Hardcore (1979), despite Schrader’s own reservations about his skills as a fledgling director, still packs a wallop since its opening 38 years ago today. Considering how society currently juggles issues of conservative vs. progressive interests, religious [...]

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    Wraparound Globetrotting

    From the Nice Work If You Can Get It File: What if a major motion picture production bankrolled a scenically sprawling vacation trip and all you had to do was to have your deluxe-accommodation fun in faraway places captured by the Technicolor camera? (We’re talking about a pre-digital, pre-cellphone era, mind you.) That actually happened to Kansas City couple John [...]

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