Captain America Blogathon Part I – Jack Deth’s List

jackdethbannerCaptAmericaBlogathon

Andy over at Fandango Groovers’ Blog was inspired by the latest Captain America: The Winter Soldier trailer in which we see Steve Rogers make a note in a pocket note book. It’s a list of things he missed out on in the time he was frozen that people have recommended he should catch up on. So the idea is to list ten movies we’d recommend to a person who had been frozen between 1943 and 2011.

Greetings all and sundry! When one receives an invitation from Ruth to aid in a Blog-A-Thon. Due diligence, patience and thought is required in the assembly of, layout and dissertations of probable, then solid selections.

Being a fan of the late, great Jack Kirby. And his handling of the recently thawed out Captain America/Steve Rogers. And his association with the eye patched, Jack Kirby and Steve Streranko. Robert Culp like Colonel (formerly Sgt.) Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. (Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law Enforcement Division) of 1965..

I opened up vast volumes and tomes of cinematic history. For both entertainment and acclimatization’s sake. Since I’m sticking with the cinematic premise of finding Cap frozen outside the Arctic Circle by a new and improved, contemporary S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) of the Samuel L. Jackson.

To that end. Allow me to align my selections in chronological order and introduce:

Ten Films for Captain America: (1943-2011)

#10: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

JackList_BestYears

Very possibly the best film focusing around returning veterans of World War II. And their adjusting to a world they had left only years before.The film focuses on a decorated bombardier (Dana Andrews), an Army Infantry Squad Leader (Frederic March) and an enlisted sailor (Harold Russell) who lost both of his hands when his ship was shot out from under him.

The tale is not just restricted to the men returning to their Ohio home towns. The director (William Wyler) goes out of his way to see the points of view of their wives (Who give and get as good as their men!) and families are examined as well.

A near perfect film for either Rogers or Cap to enjoy. While understanding that he is not so unique or alone after all.

#9: The Graduate (1967)

JackList_TheGraduate

Few films describe the given everything, lazy and spoiled “Baby Boom” generation and the changing mores, culture and morals of the 1960s than this touch stone, Buck Henry comedy.

A well fleshed out and executed thumbnail of the next generation Cap fought for. And what many believe is the decade that changed the world.

#8: The Night of The Living Dead (1968)

JackList_NightLivingDead

The crème de la crème of low budgeted, back yard horror films! That introduced the mystique of slow moving, cannibalistic, brain eating zombies just under a half century ago While creating a fairly decent analogy for Cap’s arch nemesis, Hydra in regards to ever increasing opposing numbers in a never ending war of attrition.

No frills? You bet! Claustrophobic? Absolutely! In a film that slowly builds, fear, suspense, tension and “Bang for the Buck!” into a finale no one sees coming!

#7: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

JackList_2001

The richly opulent and wondrously detailed look at what might have been. Had not “The Great Society” and its first steps of income redistribution been given precedence.

More science fact of the day, than science fiction. Director Stanley Kubrick and author/scientists, Arthur C. Clark go to great lengths in authenticity in this cinematic landmark. A distinctly possible double bill with director, Ron Howards’ Apollo 13, from 1995.

#6: The French Connection (1971)

JackList_FrenchConnection

This gritty little gem provides one of the most unflattering look at the five boroughs in film. Becoming an uncredited player in a Cat and Mouse game of veteran narcotics cops trying to get ahead of and nail down a then record breaking amount of high grade, near pure heroin as it comes into New York City. In one of the first and best “partner films”to grace the big screen.

Both Steve Rogers and Cap should appreciate and empathize with detectives Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Russo (Roy Scheider) working against the bureaucracy, feds and a god awful winter in their pursuit of the elusive, elegant Frenchman, Charnier (Fernando Rey).

#5: Vanishing Point (1972)

JackList_VanishingPoint

This would be a pleasantly intriguing pallet cleansing road trip with a mission film. Wrapped around a fully blown 440 big blocked 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T piloted by the stoic, near silent Kowalski (Barry Newman in his first film role). Former Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, uniformed cop and recent Benzedrine aficionado delivering a black Chrysler Imperial to a garage in Denver, Colorado. Then wagering that he can deliver the Challenger to San Francisco in 18 hours.

While offering some superb on location racing between the Charger, Jaguar and other road trekking competitors. The film also reveals an interesting loo at the American Midwest, post Woodstock. As Kowalski and his Dodge elude motorcycle cops and speed traps with the aid of blind African American disc jockey, “Super Soul” (Cleavon Little).

In an impeccable tale of the classic anti-hero going against the system as more and more people hear of Kowalski and his trek through “Super Soul”. And the local police set up a large and unique roadblock outside Cisco, California.

#4: Pat Garrett And Billy the Kid (1973)

JackList_PatGarret

A Western is called for. Though not your John Wayne, John Ford or Howard Hawks kind of Western. One has its roots in history and lore. And told in a slower, more sedate than most.

With the master of the “South of The Border” tales, Sam Peckinpah spinning his sweeping book balancing, payback and redemption yarn in a near Antonioni pace. Amongst a “Who’s Who” of veteran supporting actors sharing action with lush and splendid backdrops. As James Coburn delivers his best underplayed role. Opposite a younger, equally talented Kris Kristofferson.

#3: Young Frankenstein (1974)

JackList_YoungFrankenstein

What “kid from Brooklyn” wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to see a cleverly comedic take of a the film that starred Colin Clive as the doctor with a “God Complex” and Boris Karloff as his creation. No doubt seen in countless matinees.

Mel Brooks sticks with the original B&W and used several laboratory sets from the 1935 classic. While pulling out the stops for Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Terri Garr and Cloris Leachman as “Frau Blucher”. And Peter Boyle as the intelligent, opinionated monster. Where no classic scene is beyond lampooning and the patter between Wilder and the cast is inspired.

#2: The Usual Suspects (1995)

JackList_UsualSuspects

Cap may need a refresher in the ancient saw: “Nothing is as it seems!”. In a subtly executed crime film. Told mostly in flashback during an impromptu, recorded interrogation between sole survivor, Verbal Kint (Calmly confident Kevin Spacey) and U.S. Customs Agent David Kujan (Chazz Palmenteri in peak form!). As the “Who?”, “What?” and “Where?” of criminal mastermind, Kayser Soze.

In a film that demands attention as proven and just starting out actord and their characters are introduced and do what they do best. At possibly the behest of the enigmatic, invisible Mr. Soze.

Leaving the Number One spot open for a different and somewhat more historic take on a possible contender to add to Cap’s list of Rocky and Rocky II.

#1: Cinderella Man (2005)

JackList_CinderellaMan

With Russell Crowe as New Jersey lightweight champion turning heavyweight, James J. Braddock during the Depression of 1929. Suffering from a broken hand and finding work in unions and heavy machinery. Doing what his can to make ends meet for his wife, Mae (Renee Zellweger) and his sons and daughter.

Salvation takes place when Braddock’s old manager, Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti) sets up a bout that Braddock wins in a third round knockout. Which blazes a trail to fight heavyweight contender, Max Baer (Craig Bierko).

In a deftly executed period piece that will have the audience cheering in the final reels!


Check out Jack’s other posts and reviews


What do you think of Jack’s recommendations?

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31 thoughts on “Captain America Blogathon Part I – Jack Deth’s List

  1. Oh, that’s a nice list. BTW, which cut of Vanishing Point are you referring to? The U.S. cut or the slightly-longer U.K. cut with an appearance from Charlotte Rampling?

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, ninvoid:

      Thanks so much!

      There’s a U.K. cut of Vanishing Point ?

      I’ve seen the film several times and don’t remember Charlotte Rampling in any scenes. Though I do remember seeing a glimpse of Rita Coolidge singing in the local chorale near the film’s end. Ms. Coolidge was there since Kris Kristofferson has been originally offered the role of Kowalski. And Ms. Coolidge was Kris’ girlfriend at the time.

      1. The U.K. version is slightly longer as the U.S. version didn’t like Charlotte Rampling’s lone cameo because it featured her smoking this massive joint. The U.S. distributors cut it out of the film.

        1. jackdeth72

          Thanks for the quick response and update, ninvoid!

          I can kind of see why the US censors or distributors would cut that scene at the time. I first caught the premiere of Vanishing Point at a drive in outside Little Rock, Arkansas ub early 1973.. The same theater where I saw a Guilty Pleasure parody, Flesh Gordon . Which the censors there butchered, compared to later, more recent releases.

  2. Oh wow, what a cool idea for a blogathon and this is a great list. I have to agree BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES would be most therapeutic. What do you think Cap would make of INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS?

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Paula!

      The Best Years of Our Lives was the first film I thought of to make the cut. One of Wyler’s best. Encompassing all the questions and possibilities of “What now?” those in uniform experience when released from duty. Excellent performances all around. With stand outs from Myrna Loy and Harold Russell!

      I don’t think Cap would cotton to Quentin Tarantino’s knack of violence for the sake of violence found in Inglorious Basterds. Opting instead for more classic, mission oriented films like A Walk In The Sun and Battleground!.

      1. I think you are right, also it messes so much with what he knows to be actual fact. I was thinking of TOP GUN from the ’80s…I think he would think it somewhat ridiculous. Lol. I can’t argue with A WALK IN THE SUN, though I’ve never seen BATTLEGROUND!

        1. jackdeth72

          I believe that Cap would have no problem taking on high ranking Germans in an ambush or straight up battle. Though, I think he’d draw the line at scalping and carving swastikas (War crimes, themselves) into foreheads.

          Battleground! is still the “go to” film regarding U.S. infantry and paratroopers during The Battle of the Bulge in World War II. An excellent, character driven tale with James Whitmore, Marshall Thompson, Richard Jaeckel and a young Ricardo Montalban amongst many others!

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Michael:

      Thanks very much.

      I had a ball putting this selection together.

      Some were “givens”, such as The Best Years of Our Lives, 2001, and Cinderella Man for acclimation, entertainment and wonderment. With a few add ons, like Vanishing Point, Young Frankenstein and Pat Garrett… to cover standard genres.

      Creating a list that not only Cap, but many others would enjoy.

      Glad you liked it!

  3. Ted S.

    Some great recommendations there Jack! Especially 2001: A Space Odyssey and The French Connection. I wasn’t a big fan of Pat Garret and Billy the Kid though, one of the weaker Peckinpah’s films. I think it’s the film that pretty much got him black listed by most studios since he fought hard with them to get final cut. Apparently he disown the film because he thought the version the studio released wasn’t what he intended. Maybe that’s the reason why I wasn’t a big fan, the studio really butchered it.

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Ted:

      Thanks for such an insightful comment!

      I can’t think of a time when Mr. Peckinpah wasn’t at war with the “suits” and “power players” in Hollywood. And they with him. Dating back to Ride The High Country , which put Peckinpah on the map. The suits didn’t care for Warren Oates and his two brothers. Through a major conflict with Major Dundee regarding cost over runs, cut scenes and sound track.

      To Straw Dogs, The Wild Bunch, Cross of Iron, The Killer Elite and finally, Pat Garrett And Billy the Kid . Which I’ll gladly put up against any of Mr. Eastwood’s or other director’s offering. As a lush and sentimental farewell to the genre. Until another director finds a new way of resurrecting it.

      About the only Peckinpah film that didn’t create massive static was Junior Bonner . Basically because Hollywood thought it would bomb. And didn’t, with the passage of time.

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, Terry:

      Ruth invited me, Ted and several others through e-mail to gather and present thoughts on this intriguing idea. And it’s my pleasure to help kick things off with films that not only fill gaps of lost time. Entertain and help assuage those plot lines that arose with Cap and Rogers in the Jack Kirby comics of the late 1960s.

      I had a ball covering all the bases!

  4. Kevin, great ones on your list. What fun blogathon to particpate in. I can’t argue with any on your list! Interesting most of your films are from the 60s and 70s and nothing from the 80s. HHmm. Bad decade? 😉

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, Cindy:

      This is turning out to be a fun Blog~A~Thon. Creating a list that would be beneficial and entertaining not only to Cap, but to others. Andy, who is ramrodding this, has some excellent choices themed to changing times and culture. So the spectrum is being covered.

      For me, the 1970s comprised Hollywood’s last Golden Age in film. With the 80s introducing safe, cookie cutter plots and actors and actresses more alike than dissimilar. Outside of Spielberg, Ron Howard and John Hughes making their marks, There really wasn’t much going on in the ground breaking, point of view department. More listless than “bad”.

    1. jackdeth72

      Greetings, Inspired:

      Thanks for dropping by and adding to the conversation!

      The Graduate is a film very much of its time. With dry, wry comedic writing from Buck Henry. Whose humor still works today while painting a portrait of changing times, morals and attitudes of the 1960s.

      Glad you like my choices and hope to see your comments more often.

  5. VERY interesting selections Jack. I think there is one on your list that would absolutely be on mine – The Night of the Living Dead. It’s my favorite horror picture of all town hands down, no questions asked.

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Keith:

      Thanks very much!

      George A. Romero has enjoyed a well earned reputation for getting a lot out of next to nothing. And The Night of the Living Dead cemented that rep in Spades! Creating a hallmark of the genre with a handful of unknowns and a budget equal to about one tenth what a film today would spend on catering.

      Made for B&W (Never understood why Ted Turner wanted to colorize it!) and shot on standing, middle of nowhere locations. A definite American classic!

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Eric:

      I had to figure that both Steve Rogers and Cap are gear and motor heads. And who wouldn’t want to see the advancements in automobile engines and aesthetics since 1940s Packards, Buicks, Chevys, Fords and the venerable Willys Jeep?

      Vanishing Point fills the bill nicely. With just the right amounts of action, tension and suspense. Allowing Mr. Newman and his character, Kowalski and his Charger to carry the tale without a lot of revealed back story. Hence, my description to fill in any blanks.

      Glad you liked it!

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Josh:

      Thanks very much!

      The French Connection was part of the second wave of films to move to the forefront. A neat little selection that has everything Steve Rogers or cap would like. A pair of anti-heroes, a steadfast bureaucracy to fight when not pursing the drugs and Charnier. through a cold and lousy winter that brings out the grit and grime of the city.

      While Cinderella Man is a well detailed period piece with some history to it. And one of Russell Crowe’s best, most human roles in a film every bit as good as Rocky !

  6. Fabulous list Jack! I’m particularly happy to see Vanishing Point and the sublime Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. That’s one of Peckinpah’s finest in my eyes. Such a marvellous Bob Dylan soundtrack too.

    1. jackdeth72

      Welcome, Mark!

      I’m thrilled with all the love heading towards Vanishing Point ! A true independent offering that has well stood the test of time. I wanted to step aside on the westerns of the 1940s, 50s and 60s. And focus on a solid story that is so easy to take in and listen to.

      Great catch on Dylan and his sound track! With his character “Alias” content to take on a small, non pretentious role. As his songs aid in moving the story along.

    1. jackdeth72

      Hi, Three Rows:

      Three films right off the bat became five and shortly thereafter, ten. Vanishing Point was a late arrival to the party. And a good one, considering all the love headed its way!

  7. Pingback: Captain America Blogathon | Fandango Groovers Movie Blog

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