April saw me getting back into my viewing groove a bit. I took in 27 viewings and only 1 of those was a revisit (the cyberpunk actioner CLASS OF 1999). Of that group, only two were on VHS. The rest were either DVDs or DVD-Rs (most courtesy of the Simmons Museum of Modern Mayhem).
here. In terms of lineage, this Dutch production adapts the eighth book (Det Slutna Rummet) in the series. This sees seasoned detective Martin Beck (Jan Decleir) returning to the force after being shot during the events of the previous novel (adapted into film as THE MAN ON THE ROOF , reviewed by Tom here). Hoping to slowly re-accustom Beck back to the rigors of police work, his chief assigns him a bit of “occupational therapy” in the form of a mysterious case of a decomposing body of a warehouse worker. The body was found next to running heaters inside a tiny apartment with the windows all sealed and the door locked from the inside. The police ruled it a suicide with a gun wound to the chest, but there is one problem – there was no gun found at the crime scene. Meanwhile, Monita (Els Dotterman), a recently unemployed immigrant single mother, must decide the best way to provide for her daughter – either by posing nude or resorting to crime.
Now I won’t ruin how these two storylines intertwine, but they eventually do. This was fascinating to watch right after ROSEANNA to see not only a different filmmaker’s take on the material, but also how a different actor handled the portrayal of the famed detective in the same year. Decleir, looking like the lovechild of Gerard Depardieu and Steve Coogan, is far more cynical and gruff compared to ROSEANNA’s Gösta Ekman as Beck. Director-writer Jacob Bijl also casts Beck as much more of a loner, who doesn’t work well with others and scoffs at his inept superiors. The film does have one major problem when it comes to a plot point that is a HUGE matter of convenience, but other than that, it is well worth seeking out. Especially if you enjoy seeing a actor give a different spin on an established character.
From Swedish supercops, we now got to American asskicking cops with…
This Aaron Spelling production lasted only one season and was part of a failed experiment by last place ABC to combat the power of ROWAN AND MARTIN'S LAUGH IN. It was the second half (following a variety show called THE MUSIC SCENE) of a 90 minute viewing block that started on Monday night's at 7:30 pm. So from 7:30-8:15 pm you got THE MUSIC SCENE and then THE NEW PEOPLE went from 8:15-9:00 pm. Genius? This pilot is probably of note solely due to the fact that it was written by Rod Serling (under the pseudonym John Phillips) and tackles a lot of the social issues at the time. Most of the work is routine (did you really name your racist villain Robert E. Lee?), but there is some nice work towards the end where Hannichek stops Bones from leading a lynching against one guy ("I bet if he examined your family tree we'd find twelve branches where your relatives hang," the old man scolds). Director George McCowan did lots of TV work and would later give us FROGS (1972) and THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (1979). The episode works best in the shots of the creepy deserted town with its mannequins covered in dust and cobwebs.
This Robert Aldrich movie blew me away. Not only is it entertaining as hell, but even works on an allegorical level with the main characters acting as different levels of society. Marvin and Carradine are both great in their roles, but the real reason to see this is Borgnine as the villainous Shack. Imagine the bastard boss he played in WILLARD with a thirst for blood. His character seems to love torturing these guys and Borgnine really brings him to life without being over the top in a role that easily lends itself to that. He is also incredibly physical in the role, insane for a guy in his mid-50s at the time of shooting. Second to this excellent performance are the gorgeous Oregon locations. Co-stars include Charles Tyner and Harry Caesar as members of Shack's train. This film gives new meaning to the statement “they don’t make ‘em like that anymore.” If Hollywood tried to remake this (seriously, we know they wouldn’t as they’ve probably never heard of it) we would get Liam Neeson as A-No.-1, Jason Statham as Cigaret, Gary Oldman as Shack (with his face half-burned for no reason), Scarlett Johanssen as Boxcar Annie (the love interest who drives the two Hobos apart) and Taylor Lautner as One Armed Willie (the kid whose arm loss at the hands of Shack inspires A-No.-1's quest).
Last but definitely not least is a film that was originally supposed to be reviewed in Video Junkie #3 way back when. A revisit shows it still holds up.