"The movie business is macabre. Grotesque.
It is a combination of a football game
and a brothel."
-- Federico Fellini
Mar 272014


Performance Rox the Blu-ray Disc

 PERFORMANCE (1970) Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg’s genre-and-reality blending slice of surreal cinema remains as startling and surprising now as it did nearly 45 years ago. When a local legbreaker (James Fox) takes it on the lam in London after being a poor cog in the criminal-corporate enterprise machine, he ends down the rabbit-hole, hiding out in the Bohemian boarding house run by ex-rock superstar Turner (Mick Jagger). While Turner and his gal pal share the affections of a mysterious French androgyne, they suck rough boy Chas into their world – a world where “everything is permitted.” Now available in a striking High Definition Blu-ray Disc edition, the hidden glories, mystery, grime and grit of “Performance” have never been more apparent. Nor has the arresting soundtrack popped so clear.

Quintuple Dix

PUBLIC DEFENDER (1931) Millionaire playboy Pike Winslow (Richard Dix) has a secret – a secret identity that is! Eight years before Bruce Wayne would don the cowl, two years before Doc Savage would crush crime alongside Ham and Monk, and just as Lamont Cranston walked in the doors of the Cobalt Club, the Reckoner (aka ex-military intelligence officer and idle man-about-town, Pike Winslow) battled the banksters behind the looting of Depression-era America. Aided by his amazing two assistants, the ratiocinating Professor (Boris Karloff) and the acrobatic mug Doc (Paul Hurst), the Reckoner deployed split-second timing and careful planning in his quest to bring vengeance on the guilty. But with the girl he loves lying at the center of the case, the Reckoner’s timing may just be fatally off… Based on George Goodchild’s “The Splendid Crime.”

HIS GREATEST GAMBLE (1933) Richard Dix plays a professional gambler and bon vivant who lives the high life on the down low thanks to snatching his daughter from her mother with the best of intentions. When the gambler plays a losing hand landing a life-stretch in jail, its back to momma for beloved Alice (Edith Fellows/Dorothy Wilson). While the gambler Eden serves his time, Alice has her soul crushed thanks to her controlling mother. And so Eden makes a break – not for vengeance, but for love. Also stars Bruce Cabot.

ACE OF ACES (1933) This intriguing take on the WWI flying ace genre sees Dix playing an avowed pacifist who gets the four feathers treatment from his gal (Elizabeth Allen) so he signs up for a stint in the wild blue. By the time the frill has wised up to the horrors of war, thanks to a stint as a volunteer nurse, the pacifist has become a bloodthirsty killer of the sky devoted only to personal glory. Aeronautical bard John Monk Saunders (Wings, The Dawn Patrol) pens the script, while Merian Cooper (King Kong) executive produces. Ralph Bellamy co-stars.

RENO (1939) Reno is the history of the biggest little city in America, as lived by the lawyer that put it on the easy divorce map. Bill Shayne started out on the up and up, defending the little guy against the mining corporations, but when the veins ran out, Shayne slides into casino shyster Bill Shears, every wannabe divorcee’s favorite fellow. Gail Patrick (Women in Bondage) gives a gun blazing star turn as Shayne’s favorite girl. Also stars Anita Louise, directed by John Farrow.

MEN AGAINST THE SKY (1940) Melancholy and adventure intertwine in this tale of an alcoholic aviator barred from the air. Phil Mercedes (Dix) lost his reputation and his license, but not the love of his younger sister (Wendy Barrie). When Kay falls for her aeronautical engineer boss (Kent Taylor) at the experimental airplane factory, Phil finds he still has something to contribute to the sky.

Totally Tubular TV

SEARCH FOR THE GODS (1976) Kurt Russell and Stephen McHattie (“Watchmen”) star in this pilot that blends the best of ’70s popular non-fiction paperback fodder into an adventurous and intriguing mix that presages the ’80s neo-pulp revival. McHattie play Vietnam vet and Cantabridgian scion Willie Longfellow, currently on walkabout across the American Southwest questing for a Yaqui way of knowledge. Before you can shout “von Daniken!” into a credulous crowd of reincarnated Atlanteans, Willie finds a shaman, a fragment of an otherworldly medallion, an unscrupulous international art collector and a beer-swilling cynical soldier of mis-fortune Shan Mullins (Russell). Russell’s performance carries the seed of Big Trouble in Little China’s Jack Burton, albeit buried in Kurt’s then still-boyish Disney veneer.

DEATH AMONG FRIENDS (1975) Canadian stage queen Kate Reid stars as lady detective “Mrs. R,” whose hausfrau demeanor hides an incisive and perceptive mind. Mrs. R and her aide-de-camp Officer Manny Reyes (A
Martinez) gets dispatched to the home of rogue international financier Ham Russell Buckner (Martin Balsam) after the how-did-they-do-it murder of one of Buckner’s business partners. There’s no shortage of folk that wish the financier foul across the globe thanks to his methods of acquiring money, but unfortunately for Mrs. R, the only folk to be found at Buckner’s manse are the last who would wish the sugar daddy dead. Also stars John Anderson, Jack Cassidy, Lynda Day George and Paul Heinreid in one of his last appearances.

THE CHILDREN NOBODY WANTED (1981) A very young Michelle Pfeifer and Fred Lehne star in this TV biopic about Tom Butterfield who, at age 19 in 1959, became the youngest foster parent in Missouri. While a college freshman, Tom volunteers at an adult mental asylum and encounters the then-curious practice of dumping abandoned children in any institution. Taking a young boy out of the dangerous asylum and into his care, Tom stumbles into his life’s work and ends up as a catalyst for sweeping changes to child care laws across the nation. Michelle Pfeiffer plays the POV college sweetie who gets swept up Tom’s creation of the Butterfield Ranch for Children.

CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT (1985) Kathleen Quinlan (“Lifeguard”) stars in this based-on-fact drama about Lois Lee, who started working with teen prostitutes as a sociology student, and eventually founded the non-profit “Children of the Night,” dedicated to rescuing children. Unflinching in its portrayal of the brutality inflicted upon the teens, this TV movie is remarkably frank for its time. Features Pat Benatar’s “Hell is for Children” as its apropos theme.

 Posted by on March 27, 2014  Add comments

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