Thursday, July 30, 2009

William Lustig Presents: The Seventies - Buried Treasures

We’re somehow not on NYC’s Anthology Film Archives email distribution list, but luckily we found out this amazing event anyway. Both as a filmmaker (Maniac, Vigilante, Maniac Cop) and a DVD entrepreneur with his Blue Underground label, William Lustig has been one of the most important figures in the exploitation world. in just the last few years, Blue Underground has been responsible for bringing some of the best Grindhouse epics from America (whoever thought Fight for Your Life would ever be on DVD, much less uncut and looking luminous) and Europe (releasing Emanuelle in America uncut in spite of the number of stores that would refuse to stock a disc with hardcore material) to domestic DVD for the first time.

A mainstay of the NYC repertory scene, we first met Bill at the much lamented The Screening Room off Canal St for a rare screening of Billion Dollar Brain well over a decade ago. We recognized his voice from the Laserdisc commentary tracks he participated in and enjoyed a long talk with this amazingly gracious man (You want stories? He’s got stories.) Since then we’ve ran into Bill several more times at various screenings and conventions (where he was nice enough to introduce us to Luigi Cozzi!) and never miss the chance to say hello. Anyway, enough fawning – here’s Anthology’s into to the festival:

August 7-13 Ever since William Lustig came to Anthology last summer to present his MANIAC COP films as part of our New York City Vigilantes series, we�ve been hoping to bring him back in the guise of guest-curator. Undersung filmmaker and founder of the indispensable Home Media label Blue Underground, Lustig is a veritable fountain of wisdom on the subject of the cinema�s unsavory margins. This summer, Lustig will be turning his attention to the subversive genre films of 1970s Hollywood, unearthing a handful of treasures that have been languishing in studio vaults for decades. Unavailable on DVD, and very rarely shown, these films are itching to explode back onto the screen. Homicidal Vietnam vets, escaped convicts, crime syndicates, and a treasure-trove of seventies character actors �Joe Don Baker, Timothy Carey, Karen Black, Rip Torn, Stacy Keach, Angie Dickinson, James Caan, and many more � will be storming Anthology come August. Prepare yourself! Very special thanks to William Lustig; and to Caitlin Robertson (20th Century Fox), Ross Klein (MGM), Jared Sapolin & Grover Crisp (Sony), Marilee Womack (Warner Brothers), and Adam Lounsbery.

For those to lazy to clicky - here's the impressive rundown:

by Richard Rush
1974, 113 minutes, 35mm. With James Caan and Alan Arkin.
“In retrospect [FREEBIE AND THE BEAN] seems like the missing – and absolutely essential – link between the gritty potboilers of the 1970s, such as THE FRENCH CONNECTION, and the glib, profane thrillers of the 80s and 90s…. [Starring] Alan Arkin as a Hispanic detective (i.e., ‘The Bean’), and James Caan as his determined-to-be-corrupted partner (hence ‘Freebie’)…it’s an amazing, explosive, almost self-destructive exercise in action, comedy, racism, and property damage, not necessarily in that order.” –Todd Gilchrist, CINEMATICAL
–Sunday, August 9 at 6:15 and Wednesday, August 12 at 9:00.

by Richard Compton
1972, 91 minutes, 35mm. Archival print courtesy of 20th Century Fox. With Joe Don Baker.
Four battle-fatigued and well-armed Vietnam vets, driving cross-country, accidentally kill a woman before heading to their hometown. Disillusioned with their homecoming, the four vets unleash their fury in a blood-crazed rampage that has to be seen to be believed. In its down-and-dirty way, this film lays bare the uncomfortable truth of the damaged psyches left in the wake of the Vietnam war.
–Saturday, August 8 at 9:30 and Tuesday, August 11 at 7:00.

by John Flynn
1977, 95 minutes, 35mm. With William Devane, Tommy Lee Jones, and Dabney Coleman.
Among the very greatest – and most disturbing – revenge flicks, ROLLING THUNDER stars Devane as a Vietnam vet determined to track down the men who killed his wife and child. Written by a young Paul Schrader, it’s a classic of its kind.
“Working from another intelligent script from Schrader, Flynn spins his yarn…with an impossibly steady hand, turning what could have been yet another DEATH WISH knock-off into an authentically understated work of gritty 70s cinema.” –THE FILM FIEND
–Saturday, August 8 at 7:00 and Tuesday, August 11 at 9:00.

by Jacques Deray
1972, 104 minutes, 35mm. With Jean-Louis Trintignant, Ann-Margret, Roy Scheider, and Angie Dickinson.
This Melville-inspired thriller stars Trintignant as a French hit man sent to Los Angeles to whack a mob kingpin. Once the job is finished, though, he finds himself trapped in an early-1970s nightmare of strip clubs, Jesus freaks and Star Trek re-runs, chased by muscle-car driving assassin Roy Scheider and helped by friendly go-go girl, Ann-Margret.
–Saturday, August 8 at 2:45 and Monday, August 10 at 7:00.

by John Flynn
1973, 105 minutes, 35mm. With Robert Duvall, Karen Black, Joe Don Baker, Robert Ryan, Elisha Cook Jr., and Timothy Carey.
“Excellent adaptation of a novel by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake), who also provided the source material for POINT BLANK…and Godard’s MADE IN USA. A taut, grim thriller, it sees Duvall, just out of prison and with revenge burning in his heart for the murder of his brother, taking on the Syndicate with the help of heavy, Joe Don Baker. [I]t’s a cool, exciting thriller in the Siegel tradition, paying more than passing reference to classic film noir with its host of character actors [including the great Timothy Carey], a cruel performance from Ryan as the mob leader, and its vision of people caught up in a chaotic, confused and treacherous world.” –Geoff Andrew
–Friday, August 7 at 9:30, Sunday, August 9 at 4:00, and Thursday, August 13 at 7:00.

by Michael Winner
1973, 95 minutes, 35mm. With Charles Bronson and Martin Balsam.
In this pre-DEATH WISH collaboration between Charles Bronson and director Michael Winner, Bronson is a pitiless cop who uncovers an unlikely plot by a Mafia don (Balsam) to avenge a decades-old attack by using Vietnam veterans to eliminate the heads of the major mob families. This is Bronson in his prime, and features one of Hollywood’s finest uses of a free-falling dummy (for more information, consult the November 7, 2007 post at
–Friday, August 7 at 7:00 and Thursday, August 13 at 9:15.

by Douglas Hickox
1972, 93 minutes, 35mm. With Oliver Reed, Jill St. John, and Ian McShane.
Though it wasn’t meant as high praise, the NEW YORK TIMES description of this film pretty much sums it up: “This is brutal, garish pulp stuff, with a repulsively sadistic Oliver Reed busting out of prison and snaking into London for the sole purpose of killing his unfaithful wife, played by a bug-eyed Jill St. John.” Brutal, garish, pulp, Oliver Reed? What’s not to like?
–Saturday, August 8 at 5:00 and Monday, August 10 at 9:15.

Oh, we will see you there.