|A rare peek into the VJ crib|
I've seen David Janssen in a few things here and there over the years, but I never really took much notice until recently when Will got me to track down a copy of THE GOLDEN GATE MURDERS, a film that proper Janssen fans probably have on a shelf behind a box of stale crackers, underneath that jar of unlabeled homemade red-pepper jam that was given to them as a gift from a relative that they still haven't found a use for. For me it was a revelation. Not only was Janssen looking old enough to be as crusty and cranky as he acted, but it reinforces my time honored idiom: You can't make a bad movie in San Francisco. It's just not possible. Don't argue! Can't be done! (prior to 1990)
Anyway, here are a couple of the Janssen films I've enjoyed during my new-found fanship (that's a word!). ...and yes, that is Will (a Janssen fan since he was old enough to pee standing) facepalming in the corner. Don't mind him, he'll get over it.
|David Janssen turns on the romance!|
Directed by Walter Grauman, also responsible for "Crowhaven Farm" (1970) and scores of episodes of "The Streets of San Francisco" and "Barnaby Jones", and written by first time TV writer David Kinghorn, the movie meanders all over the place, but mostly building the relationship between Detective Silver and Sister Benecia only occasionally remembering that there is a possible murder to perhaps solve. Even so, as Will said, this is a movie that is "a lot better than it has any right to be."
Opening with what is quite possibly one of the most gritty, nasty visions of prison hell ever to be portrayed in a western, Janssen here plays Diego "Macho" Callahan, a gunslingin' criminal who was incarcerated, not for killin' or stealin', but for refusing to join the confederate army. After a violent escape, Callahan finds himself in his home town with his partner Juan (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.) setting up a plan to hunt down the yellow-shod sleazebag who turned him in (Lee J. Cobb). While in the process of doing that, he cruelly guns down a newly wed soldier (David Carradine) who lost an arm in the war, over a bottle of champagne. While the law considered it a fair fight, the soldier's widow (Jean Seberg) does not and places a massive bounty on Callahan's head. Add in the fact that the army wants to nail his ass for breaking out of prison, and suddenly everyone wants Callahan's hide.
If you are looking for chest-thumping heroics and simple icons of justice and might, you are in the wrong territory amigo. However, if you dig the subversive, cynical and complex westerns of the revisionist era with a great American cast, this is your ticket to ride shotgun.