Sunday, February 27, 2011

Waldo Pepper & 2 Other Films, Inc.

Special Announcement!!!

Before we start this review(s), check this out:
We—that is, me—
got a shout-out at the awesome screenwriting website Go Into The Story
regarding a comment we made about one of our fave film characters: Captain Renault from Casablanca. Woo-hoo!
(I now know that I misspelled two-thirds’ of the cast’s names in my comment. Oy…)

The Great Waldo Pepper (1975)

A labor of love from director (and former Marine Corps pilot) George Roy Hill to the barnstorming aviators of old, with a fantastic script from William Goldman and some incredible flying scenes,
The Great Waldo Pepper is an excellent and almost forgotten film, only recently re-released to DVD and other home viewing formats.

Originally released at the tail-end of the early-1970s "nostalgia" boom, Waldo got clobbered at the box office trying compete against Jaws, which is really too bad:
this movie is a great piece of Hemingway-esque Americana, with Robert Redford better than usual as a liar pretending to be a hero.

But it is B-movie star Bo Svenson, playing Redford's rival, then partner, who is a revelation: who knew the star of Walking Tall Part Two was such a good actor?

Because Waldo didn’t do boffo B.O., director Hill needed a more commercial project next. He reunited with his other big star, Paul Newman, and Slap Shot,
One of the Best Sports Movies Ever Made
was created.
(the others being The Bad News Bears and, hmmmm, Death Race 2000, yeah, that’s the ticket)

Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1979)

This is DVD MIA, but back in July 2010, it was available on Neflix Streaminng—but not anymore.

As sleazy, mean-spirited and brutal as Wes Craven's original Last House on the Left (which is a compliment),
Looking for Mr. Goodbar is infinitely more hypocritical and misogynistic than that flick (or the other horror movies Goodbar rips off).

But worst of all, Looking for Mr. Goodbar is dull:
the movie is incredibly self-important, thinking it is profound, when it is obvious and repetitive, with the cast routinely overacting obnoxiously, especially Richards Kiley and Gere.

Director Richard Brooks (never one of my favorites and highly overrated) makes exploitation films for smug intellectuals, so-called "important" movies that spoon-feed their pretensions to an audience of acolytes.
Brooks is hardly a subtle director, routinely leaning towards polemics, and his reactionary disgust with the sexual revolution is evident in practically every frame of Looking for Mr. Goodbar.

This is a movie made by a cranky old man who hates independent women.
(In fact, Brooks was referred to by satirist Clive James as a “superannuated lecher”—read more HERE)

Yes, Diane Keaton acts her ass off in this film, but to what final purpose
(other than the inevitable nominations and acting awards-because it IS one of those showy performances that does scream ACTING! Thankfully Keaton, unlike, say, Sean Penn, knows how to modulate her ACTING enough to retain a shred of honesty)
I don’t know—except to make her final, brutal, pointless murder all the more painful?
Which means the whole movie’s purpose is to lead up to slaughtering its lead actress?

Dude, that’s really fucked in the head.

The Swimmer (1968)

Directed by the underrated Frank Perry (Rancho Deluxe is a classic!) in a deliberately unrealistic style, The Swimmer offers a tour-de-force performance by Burt Lancaster as a pathetic and over-the-hill "suburban stud" who's delusional due to some unseen—but darkly hinted at—

At first maniacally upbeat, the almost naked Lancaster is "swimming" home in a last-ditch attempt to salvage something of his former life, but it's already far too late.

The film is episodic and scattershot, but in terms of raw and uncomfortable emotions, The Swimmer would be a good double-feature with either The King of Comedy or Frankenheimer's Seconds, as delusional persons teetering towards personal apocalypse—

Absolutely worth a watch! NOW!

Well, that’ll be tough. Although The Swimmer had been available in June 2010 on N-flix Stringbean, it’s not now, and the DVD is out of print. Sigh

COMING SOON: The “BEST” of 2010—late!


  1. First, ENEMY ACE is one of the greatest comic books ever. The stories were well rendered and opened for me an interest in that brave, trail-blazing period of aviation. I have about six or seven of the original comics, but i plan to get the hard-bound DC ARCHIVE editions one day.

    Second, THE SWIMMER is truly a great mindfuck movie. So uncomfortable, and hilarious in its dark way. NOT to be missed. Lancaster's best role by far.

    Third, is that Edie with KMAC??? If so, what a great intersection of universes!

  2. Auto! YOU gave me that Enemy Ace jpeg!
    (I'm a fan of WW1 flying flicks like The Blue Max and Von Richtofen & Brown, as well.)

    Yep, it's Edie & KMAC. I hope they at least sucked face.

  3. I'm hoping it turned into INVASION OF THE BODILY ORIFICES! Go KMAC. LOVE YA BRO, R.I.P.