Five movies everyone seem to love that leave me cold

RonSwansonBannerThis list has been on my draft folder for some time. Well, now seems as good a time as any to counter all the the applause for movies as one award after another is getting announced. This post is inspired by Abbi’s list, as well as Kristin’s who posted her own list. Now, I don’t totally abhor all of these films, but like Abbi said, I really don’t get all the praise and for me at least, it did NOT live up to the hype.

I use IMDb rating and Rotten Tomatoes score just to show how critically-acclaimed these films are. Two of the classic films listed here are even considered iconic masterpieces which is even more baffling to me. If you happen to LOVE these movies, well I wish I could say the same but I think they’re awful, sorry!

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

HellboyII

IMDB rating: 7.1 | RT Score: 87%

I actually enjoyed the first Hellboy and that’s the reason why I was excited to see the second one but heh, my hubby and I actually turned it off after less than a half hour. For some reason I just couldn’t figure out why we liked the first one but this sequel is so boring. All the peculiar creatures and fantastical setting we found amusing the first time around just feels derivative, it feels like a studio obligation instead of a passion project from Guillermo Del Toro perhaps because that’s really the case here. I like Ron Perlman in the role though, but I’d rather just watch the first movie again.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

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IMDB rating: 8.0 | RT Score: 79%

Just like Transformers, a string of horror series and young adult adaptations, I never get the appeal of Pirates of the Caribbean from the get go. Johnny Depp‘s flamboyant, Keith-Richard-inspired Jack Sparrow is amusing for maybe a half hour tops, but for some reason people just can’t get enough of it that the fifth movie is now in the works [face palm]. Alas Depp can’t seem to shake that role either now, it’s as if Sparrow became his acting *curse.* I haven’t bothered watching the sequels, though I had to endure the second one (or was it the third??) when I was at a friend’s house and it just reminded me how awful this franchise is. I wince every time Geoffrey Rush show up, but I suppose a big paycheck from this type of drivels allow him to do something worthy of his talents. As if these movies aren’t unbearable already, we also have to endure watching Orlando Bloom doing poor imitations of Errol Flynn!

Spartacus (1960)

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IMDB rating: 8.0 | RT Score: 96%

Spartacus_romanceMy jaw dropped when I found out just how high the score is after seeing the film. I saw this a few years ago and I could barely made it to the end. Now, I LOVE LOVE Ben-Hur which I have seen time and again over the years and it still held up, and as a fan of swords & sandal genre, I thought I’d enjoy this too. But heck, I find it corny, dull and boring. I don’t buy Kirk Douglas as a gladiator slave for a second. He just isn’t tough nor ruthless enough I’d imagine the character to be. Sure some might’ve called Charlton Heston a wooden actor, but he at least look the part as Ben-Hur and he made me root for his character. Not so with Douglas, and the romance with Jean Simmons have zero chemistry and the backdrop wallpaper they used for the scene is so awfully fake looking I couldn’t stop laughing!

So apparently Douglas did this movie to show William Wyler that he could do a Roman epic of his own, as he didn’t get the Judah Ben-Hur role he wanted. Per IMDb trivia, he was actually offered the role of Messala but he refused to play second banana. Heh, I thank the Lord he’s NOT part of Ben-Hur, I doubt he could do a better job than Stephen Boyd as Messala, let alone the lead role!! I also think Tony Curtis is completely miscast here as well.

Stanley Kubrick apparently disowned this project as he didn’t have complete creative control over it, well that explained it. Seems that this movie resulted from *too many cooks spoil the broth* syndrome.

The Getaway (1972)

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IMDb rating: 7.5 | RT Score: 85%

This was my intro to Sam Peckinpah as my pal Ted S. LOVES his work. Sorry Ted, but I really don’t like this film, like AT ALL. It’s also my intro into Steve McQueen who’s supposed to be this suave and cool hero, but meh, I find him to be blank and stiff. I saw some clips of him in Bullit and he’s pretty much acting the exact same way. Now, I like a tough, brooding hero as much as the next gal, but there doesn’t seem to be much going on internally in his character to make me care. Same with Ali MacGraw who’s gorgeous but doesn’t really have much going on otherwise, and the romance is as lifeless as a dead fish.

TheGetawaySlappingSceneThis film is labeled a thriller but I don’t find it suspenseful at all. Even the shootout from a supposedly celebrated violent action director is so lackluster and on a few occasion it made me laugh! The color of the blood here looks so obviously fake too which doesn’t help matters. Al Lettieri did look menacing as the villain but for the most part he’s more annoying than scary. Plus the whole creepy sex scene with Sally Struthers, forcing her own husband to watch her cheat with a criminal is just plain revolting. What bothers me most here is the violence against women by not just the villain but the hero, as there’s a scene where McQueen slaps MacGraw several times and I read that he actually did it spontaneously so her reaction looked real. Heh, there’s nothing cool or ‘macho’ about assault of any kind and it’s even more shocking that this film is rated PG!!

Interestingly enough, this is yet another movie disowned by the director himself, as apparently he butted heads with McQueen who wanted a different version of the story and the studio backed the actor.

To Catch A Thief (1955)

ToCatchAThiefPosterIMDb rating: 7.5 | RT Score: 95%

The poster promises ‘shocking suspense and sizzling romance’ but we’ve got neither. Apart from the gorgeous cinematography of the French Riviera – as well as Grace Kelly’s exquisite beauty – this film hasn’t got much to offer. Kelly’s soooo beautiful here that it’s actually distracting, and I was  also distracted by how tanned Cary Grant is in this movie, especially compared to his alabaster co-star. It feels more like a rom-com than a mystery romance, as it lacks any real suspense or even believable chemistry between the two leads. Perhaps the fact that Grant was 50 playing a guy in his mid 30s have something to do with that. It’s almost as tedious as Torn Curtain, another disappointing film from ‘the master of suspense’ director Alfred Hitchcock.

The premise sounds promising on paper and you’d think with this cast, this could’ve been far more entertaining. By the time the twist was revealed, I no longer cared who did what to whom. I suppose this film is worth seeing for the lush scenery and glamorous costumes (done by Edith Head, natch!), but as a film, it’s more window dressing than an intriguing piece.


Well, those are five movies that everyone seem to love but me. What do you think? Let’s hear it!

Classic Flix Spotlight: Steve McQueen – Acting vs Reacting

jackdethbanner

Greeting all and sundry! After the wonderful comments and responses to my previous ‘First Impressions from Second Stringers‘. I’ve decided to take a few moments to delve into the allure and mystique of an actor who for years applied his talent and trade into the consistent definition and refinement of his several characters on television. Before branching into films. To meticulously evolve into the absolute embodiment of rebellious cool during the 1960s and early 1970s.

To that end. Allow me to introduce a retrospective and hypothesis into the inner workings and machinations of the guy every kid and young man wanted to grow to be. And every contemporary girl and young woman wanted to be with.

Steve McQueen: Acting vs. Reacting.

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I first noticed Mr. McQueen as bounty hunter, Josh Randall in a repeated episode of the Sam Peckinpah written western series, ‘Trackdown’ from the late 1950s. In it, Randall helps Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman (Robert Culp) track down a philandering husband. The two don’t hit it off at first, since Randall seems to enjoy his job and its reward money a bit too much. Though there seemed to be an ease about this young unknown rookie as he traded lines and shared action with the more established Culp. A surety and lack of fear that was both refreshing and intriguing.

McQueen in The Magnificent SevenOthers must have thought so as well. Remembering Mr. McQueen as he slogged through an entirely forgettable take on Harold Robbins’ potboiler novel, ‘Never Love A Stranger’. And his B-Movie introduction in the Sci-Fi classic, ‘The Blob’. Before given the chance to romp and play with Frank Sinatra and assorted other heavy hitters in the John Surges directed, Burma/Thailand, OSS WWII film, ‘Never So Few’ in 1959. Only to return under Sturges’ protective wing for another classic that launched many careers, ‘The Magnificent Seven’.

It is this film where I believe Mr. McQueen began to find the benefit of being miserly with his words. Keeping his face placid or with a hint of annoyance should the need occur. Then responding to whatever actor with which he was sharing a scene. Using as few words as possible His moments as Vin with Yul Brynner’s Chris early on in the film is an homage to subtle up staging. With Mr. Queen using deft, remembered tricks. Like shaking the shotgun shells before chambering them in his borrowed 12 Gauge scatter gun . And taking off and angling his beaten, sweat stained hat to supply some needed shade on their caisson ride up to Boot Hill. Vin’s quick, quiet loss at the saloon’s roulette wheel. And his silent counting of their desired number of gunslingers on his fingers as it grows. These small gestures and glances would quietly outnumber Mr. McQueen numbers of spoken lines. Yet seemed to carry close to equal weight, Recurring again and again his later films.

SteveMcQueen2Which brings us back to Mr. McQueen getting his own television series, ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive’. That ran for three full seasons of 94 episodes from 1958 to 1961. And propelled Mr. McQueen’s bounty hunter, Josh Randall and his cut down Winchester lever action ‘Mare’s leg’ into house hold familiarity. Opening an opportunity for Mr. McQueen to try his hand at service comedy in ‘The Honeymoon Machine’. A 1961 compact minor gem where Mr. McQueen plays a Navy Lieutenant who uses his assigned ship’s computer to figure the odds and how to beat the many gaming tables of a Venetian casino. Sharing some great lines with civilian computer scientist, Jim Hutton and his fiance, Paula Prentiss.

Then being given the lead role and top billing amongst a plethora of proven character actors in a great, though oddly little known WWII drama, ‘Hell Is for Heroes’ from 1961. Directed by Don Siegel and written by Richard Carr and Robert Pirosh. Who would later achieve critical and audience acclaim for his long running WWII series, ‘Combat!’ for ABC television. In the film, it seems that all Mr. McQueen’s character does is react.

His Pvt. Reese has been under stress and combat for so long. It seems the only time he is relaxed is when he is on the front lines. Where he soon finds himself with the stalwart Sergent, Fess Parker. Veteran squad leader, Harry Guardino. Street wise hustler, Bobby Darin. Brainy southern Fix It guy, James Coburn. Always reliable Mike Kellin. And late arrivals Bob Newhart and Nick Adams.

Together, these soldiers have to keep a massively larger number of Germans occupied on the Siegfried Line prior to a major attack. The problem is that no one really cares for their situation or fellow man. And for Mr. McQueen’s Reese even less. They all just want to be somewhere else and go home. Those that are stopping them are the Germans. And if Germans need to be killed, that’s fine with Pvt. Reese. To facilitate this, Reese is equipped with the most phallic looking of sub-machine guns. An M-3 Grease Gun with flanking magazines taped upside down around the weapon’s main feed. Used propitiously through patrols and an aborted night attack on a bunker-ed German machine gun nest. As this gritty, character driven minor masterpiece concludes in a way that no one sees coming!

The Cooler King

Leaving Mr. McQueen in the WWII vein for an aerial stock footage laden quickie titled ‘The War Lover’. Where Mr. McQueen plays an Air Corp Captain and B-17 pilot with a near death wish. Opposite a very young Robert Wagner as his protege and co-pilot. Setting the stage for one Mr. McQueen’s most memorable roles. As Hilts, ‘The Cooler King’. Again under John Sturges’ direction and backed up by a ‘Who’s Who’ of young and established talent from both sides of the Atlantic. Amongst such company and with a propensity to be given some of the production’s best lines and scenes. Plus Mr McQueen’s ability and willingness to set up a near show stopping, groundbreaking motorcycle stunt cemented him firmly in the firmament of untouchable ‘Cool’.

Something he would easily maintain through three rather formulaic films. ‘Soldier in the Rain’ opposite Jackie Gleason in 1963. ‘Love with the Proper Stranger’ with Natalie Wood and Edie Adams. And ‘Baby the Rain Must Fall’ with Lee Remick. Aided by a theme song more popular than the film. Before given the chance to stretch his talents and romp and play with the then veteran big boys.

Eric Stoner in The Cincinnati Kid

As Eric Stoner. ‘The Cincinnati Kid’. A young and enormously talented player of stud poker. Who holds makers for half the players in Depression Era New Orleans and is very much a local legend. Until a player with an ever larger reputation, Lancey Howard; wondrously, confidently and resplendently played by Edward G. Robinson steps off the train. A showdown is to be had and the Kid starts gathering up markers for his buy in and stake. Getting sound advice from his mentor, Karl Malden as ‘Shooter’. While being used as a pawn by Rip Torn’s ‘Slade’. An arrogant and sleazy southern gentleman who wants payback for losing to Howard in previous games. Trying to stay true to Tuesday Weld’s ‘Christian’. And avoiding the sensuous clutches of Shooter’s far too young and beguiling wife, Melba. Wickedly played by Anne-Margaret. More than enough distraction to throw any mere mortal off his game, but this is Steve McQueen at the near top of his game. In a showdown that many have likened to the one between Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason in ‘The Hustler‘, but with a much higher cool factor. The stare downs between Mr. McQueen’s confidence and Edward G. Robinson’s placid poker face quickly builds palpable tension until the last card is played.

Mr. McQueen’s cool and penchant to react return in 1966’s ‘Nevada Smith’. Playing a half breed Indian looking to kill the three men who killed his parents. With the aid of Karl Malden as a traveling gun salesman, Mr. McQueen is taught how to shoot, read and learns enough tricks to keep him alive through a stretch in prison to find one of the killers during their escape. And the other two in cow towns across the West. In a fair adaptation of the Harold Robbins novel. Then onto one of his most under rated roles as Machinist Mate Jake Holman in Robert Wise’s ‘The Sand Pebbles’. Assigned to the USS San Pablo as it operates along China’s Yangtze River during the 1926 era of ‘Gunboat Diplomacy’. Butting heads with the ship’s captain, Richard Crenna. Holman breaks a lot of small, traditional rules around the ship’s engines which irritates the crew and the locals. While falling in love with a Missionary’s stunning daughter, Shirley Eckert. Played by Candice Bergen in a well thought out and executed period piece, history lesson and anti-war film.

McQueen & Faye Dunaway - The Thomas Crown Affair

Which brings the cool back to the fore in ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’. Where Mr. McQueen plays a handsome, rich, influential bank executive who decides to hire a crew of four specialists who do not know each other to rob Crown’s own Boston bank. The heist goes off smoothly and four bags are dumped in trash cans and picked by Crown in his Rolls Royce. Which brings in Paul Burke, a federal investigator who is out of his league. And takes umbrage when Faye Dunaway shows up as insurance investigator, Vicki Anderson. Who is much more than she appears to be. The game is afoot as she politely question Crown over a game of chess. That makes a splendid introduction. Shared in flirtatious silence before more adult entertainment is hinted at under Norman Jewison’s deft touch. The game of high end Cat and Mouse continues through resplendent Massachusetts locales. Until Crown comes up with another plan that no one would expect. In a wondrously opulent ode to conspicuous consumption and elegantly dressed ’60s cool!

SteveMcQueen BullittThat’s knocked down a few notches status wise for Mr. McQueen’s next venture into reaction in Peter Yates’ ‘Bullitt’ . As blue collar San Francisco Detective Lieutenant Frank Bullitt. Given the task of protecting an organized crime witness for an up and coming, politically cunning District Attorney, Walter Chalmers. Played with arrogant, near sneering glee by Robert Vaughn. Whose future and career depends on the informant, Johnny Ross testifying in court after the weekend. Creating a large enough burden on the shoulders of Bullitt. His boss, Captain Sam Bennett (Simon Oakland). And Bulltt’s partner, Delgetti (Don Gordon. Never better) as well as assorted underlings assigned to the flea bag hotel protection detail.

A weight that shifts precipitously when the informant, Johnny Ross (Pat Renella) unlocks the door for his and the detail’s demise via a team of shot gun assassins. A description is given by one of slowly dying detail detectives as Bullitt arranges for the deceased Johnny Ross to be listed in the morgue as a John Doe. Which doesn’t seem to slow the team of killers down as they try to find Ross and finish the job. Giving Bullitt a quickly glimpse at them. Annoying the heck out of Chalmers as Bullitt tries to put the pieces together and asks Bennett to be put in charge of the murder investigation. Bennett gives Bullitt close to carte blache and leads are followed the next morning. After waking with a hangover in the goofiest pajamas on earth. Waiting for his immursion unit to heat water for instant coffee. Giving Don Gordon’s Delgetti some of films better lines as motel managers are questioned and Ident-I-Kit drawings are put together. While Bullitt seeks out a cab and its driver (Robert Duvall) and dots are connected and snitches contacted. To determine Ross’s foot steps around San Francisco after fleeing Chicago with two million dollars stolen from his older, mob connected brother.

The pressure increases as Bennett is subpoenaed outside Sunday services by Chalmers and his milquetoast associate and Bennett’s boss, Captain Baker (Norman Fell). Something is not adding up as Ross’s trail ends at a middle of nowhere motel. On his way home, Bullitt sees the two shooters in their Dodge Charger and the great grand daddy of all car chases begins in amongst and over the many tight turns, narrow streets and hills of San Francisco. Then out on the highways. Weaving in and out of traffic at well over seventy miles per hour. Dodging shotgun blasts as Bullitt finally manages to nudge the killers’ Charger into the gas pumps of an off road gas station and a huge explosive fireball.

With Jacqueline Bisset in Bullitt

Shaken and stirred, Bullitt invites his girlfriend, Cathy (Jacqueline Bisset, never sexier!) to spend what is left of the weekend with him. Which includes a trip back to the motel. Where Bullitt discovers a murdered woman, Dorothy Simmons (Brandy Carroll). Along with two passports, travelers checks and two tickets from San Francisco International to Rome. Before the room becomes a taped off crime scene, Cathy stumbles in and is shocked to see what Frank deals with. And what he could become.

The passport numbers are faxed to both Customs and State as a pow wow of all the heavy hitters is brought together. As the question of who the John Doe in the morgue really is? And who leaked the information to Chicago about John Doe’s fleabag motel while under protective custody? Leaving Chalmers little else to do once the John Doe is identified as Albert Lee Rennick. Except try to smoothly lie and go into a defensive diatribe aimed at Bullitt. Who tolerates the rhetoric and replies, “You work your side of the street. And I’ll work mine.”

Unburdened of Chalmers, Bullitt and Delgetti go to SFX and open up Ross’s luggage and find that Ross exchanged his tickets for Rome for a same time flight to London. Calls are made and the 707 returns to the departure gate. Delgetti stays in the terminal and Bullitt gets on board. Sees Ross, who escapes through the rear exit door and runs for it. Bullitt gives chase. Finds Ross inside the crowded terminal. Catching Ross just feet away from freedom. Catching rounds from Bullitt’s .38 Colt Diamondback between the terminal’s sliding glass double doors.

McQueen and Ali MacGraw - The Getaway

Capping off a pinnacle of macho coolness that would run long after his death in 1980. Mr. McQueen would continue ti ride high as Formula race car driver, Mike Delaney in the near documentary style, ‘Le Mans’ two years later. Coming under Sam Peckinpah’s masterful touch as rodeo rider, Junior ‘JR’ Bonner in ‘Junior Bonner’ and as just released heist man Doc McCoy. In the ahead of its time, Walter Hill and Jim Thompson scripted heist gone bad film, ‘The Getaway’ with Ali MacGraw. Then turn in a very understated performance as petty thief, Henri Charriere who befriends a near unrecognizable Dustin Hoffman, Louis Dega in ‘Papillon’ on their way to a French Guyana penal colony (Devil’s Island) and their escape attempts from there.

Overall Consensus:

SteveMcQueen9I think Mr. McQueen may have struck onto something by remaining quiet and giving some more memorable lines away to others. Creating a sense of drama while letting his facial expressions do the talking. A trait I’ve noticed by other actors, particularly Clint Eastwood, Jeff Bridges, Joe Mantegna, and the late Jack Lemmon and James Coburn. Actors confident enough in their talent and abilities to let silence speak volumes.

Kudos also to Mr. McQueen for having the savvy to use credibility and cool as a commodity and bargaining chip in ‘Bullitt’. Especially his and Peter Yates’ behind the scenes negotiations to get Warner Brothers out of their studio and back lot confines. Venture down to San Francisco and shoot on location for how ever long a scene or the completed project required.


Check out Jack’s profile page and links to his other reviews


What do you think of Steve McQueen and what’s your favorite McQueen movie(s)? Do share ’em in the comments.

The Flix List: Past and present directors who could/should still make great films

By Ted Saydalavong


I’ve written two articles for this site about Hollywood directors, both the hacks and the great ones. So this post completes my directors trilogy posts 🙂 This time I’d like to focus on the past directors who have passed away and some who are still with us but hasn’t done anything significant in a long time.

In no particular order, here are the directors:

David Lean

Lean was known for his epic films such as The Bridge of River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. All three films were huge hits, after Doctor Zhivago he decided to make Ryan’s Daughter, it was a critical and commercial failure and because of its failure Lean didn’t make another film for over ten years. His last film was A Passage to India which came out 14 years after Ryan’s Daughter.  Before his death in 1991, he was trying to get another epic picture off the ground, Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo. Steven Spielberg, a huge fan of Lean, came on board as a producer but left the project because of disagreement over the script. Eventually Lean was able to secure a huge budget from Warner Bros., $45mil was gigantic back in the 80s and the film was green lit. But he passed away six weeks before principle photography, he had throat cancer. I wonder if we’ll ever see Nostromo on the big screen, I would love it if someone like Spielberg or Nolan takes over the project. I think Nolan can definitely do it since the book was quite dark and epic in scale.

I don’t know if Lean would have successes if he was still alive and working in Hollywood today. I think he’ll have trouble finding money for the type of films that he’d made. As we all know big budgeted films today are mostly comic book based, remakes and sequels. Also, most audience nowadays has sorter attention span so I don’t think they’ll like Lean’s films at all. Unless he decides to include lots of explosions and machine guns in them, then maybe people will pay to see his films. My guess is Lean will probably never stoop that low just to please the audience.

Stanley Kubrick

Here’s a director who was known for being a perfectionist and sort of a madman. Many actors/actresses who’ve worked with him said, it was quite an experience working with him but they’ll never want to be in his film again because he drove them crazy with his long shoots and countless takes on each scene.

His most well-known film was probably 2001: A Space Odyssey and it’s my favorite film of his. George Lucas even copied the look and feel of 2001 for his Star Wars films, if you don’t believe me watch the space sequences in 2001 and then watch Star Wars, they look identical and 2001 came out 9 years before Star Wars. Kubrick was also known for bickering with his cinematographers, for example during the shoot of Barry Landon, he wanted to use natural lighting for the whole film but his cinematographer told him that’s impossible and I believed Kubrick fired him and hired a new one. Eventually he compromised and did use artificial lighting for many scenes. Also, during the shoot of A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick didn’t like the script so he decided to shoot the film from the pages of the novel. It drove his cinematographer crazy because he didn’t know how to set up the cameras correctly and it took hours just to shoot one scene.

The last film he did was Eyes Wide Shut, which took over two years to complete. Before his death, he was getting ready to shoot another potential sci-fi classic, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Of course we all know, Spielberg decided to make that movie to honor his friend. I could only imagine what the film would’ve been like had Kubrick directed it, he said he didn’t want to use a child actor for the lead role, so my assumption would be that he’d probably use CGI for the boy character. From what I remember reading, Kubrick wanted to make a dark and gritty world for A.I. as opposed to Spielberg’s light and fantasy version.

Kubrick would have no problem making films if he was still alive today, he’s highly respected in the film industry and any big name actors would kill just to work with him, they’ll regret it afterwards but at least they can say they’ve been in a Stanley Kubrick film.

Sam Peckinpah

Peckinpah was known for the innovative and explicit depiction of action and violence, as well as his revisionist approach to the western genre. Also, he’s known for filming slow motion in action scenes, John Woo and Zack Snyder are still trying to master his techniques in their films. In fact, John Woo admitted that he’s a huge fan of Peckinpah and always tried to emulate Peckinpah’s style on his own films.

Peckinpah became famous after the release of his western epic The Wild Bunch; the film got an X rating back in 1969 because of its violence. After the film’s success, Peckinpah got the nickname “Bloody Sam”. He pretty much started the trend in Hollywood where graphic violence became acceptable in big production films. After The Wild Bunch came out in 1969, the movies of the 70s included lots of graphic violence scenes; these include The Godfather, A Clockwork Orange, Taxi Driver and many more.

Peckinpah was also known for his combative personality; he refused to edit his films after shown them to studio executives, so the producers had to edit the films when he refused to be involved in the process. Some even called him a misogynist, which explains why famous actresses at the time never appeared in any of his films. Later in his career, he was offered a chance to direct some of the big films from the 70s; these include King Kong and Superman: The Movie, but he turned them all down because he didn’t want to deal with big studio politics. Apparently when he came in the interview for the Superman gig, he brought a pistol with him. He did so much cocaine and drank a lot of alcohol that he became so paranoid and some said it was hard being around him. His hard living style finally caught up with him and he died in 1984 of heart failure. He was only 59 years old.

I believe if Peckinpah was alive today he would be very successful because of independent studios that are available to filmmakers. He won’t have to deal with big studio executives and he can make his films the way he wants and still can find huge audience. You could say Quentin Tarantino is the new Peckinpah because his films are violent and strange, and of course Tarantino is a huge fan of Peckinpah. Also, all of Tarantino’s films were financed by The Weinstein Bros. studios, which it’s still considered an independent studio.

Note: I would like to mention a couple of directors whose work I’ve never seen but they’re well respected in the film industry, John Ford and Akira Kurosawa.

If you’re a fan of either of them, do you think they’ll be successful if they’re still alive and working in Hollywood today?


Now, here are some directors who are still with us, but haven’t done anything significant for a long time:

Francis Ford Coppola

Coppola was responsible for a few well known films of the 70s, The Godfather 1 & 2, Apocalypse Now and The Conversation. But after the release of Apocalypse Now, he pretty much lost his mojo when it comes to making successful films. In 1984, he made The Cotton Club, one of the biggest box office misfires of that decade. The film’s budget was around $60mil, that kind of number was unheard of back in those days. The rest of his films in the 80s were met with so-so reviews and box office numbers. So finally in 1990, he made The Godfather Part 3, mostly because his production company was going bankrupt and fans really wanted to see another chapter of the Corleone family. Unfortunately the film wasn’t as successful as the first two and to this day, many people still considered it the ‘black sheep’ of the trilogy.

In 1992, he made Dracula and it did pretty well at the box office and people thought maybe Coppola is back. But as it turned out, Dracula was his only big hit of that decade. He was pretty much gone unknown in the 2000s, even though he released a couple of movies, none of them made any noise with either the critics or audience.

I still believe Coppola could make a big comeback, he just needs the right script and get a good leading man to star in the film. For years he said he’s been working on a script of a sci-fi epic drama called Magalopolis, apparently he gave the script to Russell Crowe to read and Crowe loved it and agreed to star in it. The story is about NYC set 300 years in the future and it involves corrupt government in that future society. But unfortunately Coppola said he need about $200mil to make the movie and with his track record, he believe no studio in Hollywood will give him that kind of cash. So in early 2000s, he put the script on hold. I hope he decides to go back and work on it, that script could be his big comeback. Of course the hard part for him is to find investors who’ll fork over $200mil so he could shoot the picture.

William Friedkin

Here’s another guy who has a couple of big hit films back in the 1970s; The Exorcist and The French Connection were pretty big in those days. Just like Coppola, he sort of lost his touch of making successful films after the 70s. He actually made a very good film in 1985 that I recently discovered, To Live and Die in L.A. I knew about it for years never really wanted to see it, so finally I bought the Blu-ray version and watched it. I was surprised how good the film was; if you haven’t seen it, give it a rent. In the 90s and 2000s, he made a few films but they weren’t big hits.

I don’t know if Friedkin can make a comeback since there are so many great filmmakers out there today and he seems to be just another average director trying to make it day by day. I can only wish him the very best because I believe he’s very talented.

Richard Donner

The man who made the first and still the best Superman film and The Omen in the 70s. Then in the 80s and 90s, he made a few hits like the Lethal Weapon films and The Goonies. Just like Coppola and Friedkin, he somehow lost that touch of making a successful film the last few years. The last film I saw that he directed was 16 Blocks and it was awful. Apparently they’re remaking Lethal Weapon, will he be involved? I don’t know but I won’t be surprised if he is because he needs a hit.

I doubt that Donner could make a big comeback as a director, seems to me he just lost interest in directing films. He produced a lot of films, so maybe he prefers doing that instead of directing. Rumors been going around that he actually directed the last half of X-Men Origins: Wolverine because the original director walked off the set. I don’t know if that’s true or not, it’s Hollywood so anything’s possible.


Well those are my list of past and present directors who should or could make some successful films in today’s market. Do you have your own list? If so, feel free to name them.