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Monday, April 28, 2014

Some 1977 Trucking Instruct


Blu-Ray Sorcerer Finally Crosses The Bridge

Saw this at a rockpile of a theatre built to unseat the Liberty as our Showplace of choice. Being pure strip-down to cinderblocks and cheapest chintz plus seating, the "College Park Cinema" was 70's agnate to jungle rot of Sorcerer, truly a place where movies went to die. And still we came, generally for likes of Billy Jack in tenth run, or four-wall regional fluff like Adventures Of The Wilderness Family or Preacherman Meets Widder Woman. Then there was Sorcerer, an in-out quick smeller that larger bergs wrote off as a flop. I went out of love for theme of desperate men hauling nitro, Sorcerer reminding me less of France's The Wages Of Fear than Warners' Blowing Wild, where Gary Cooper and Ward Bond drove soup and dodged banditos. For my getting-in-free time (courtesy Brick Davis as manager), Sorcerer was swell and the acme till then (and since) of nitro nail-biters. A group of us watched before convening to concessions storage for all-night card play and cuffo eats. So yes, fun could be had at the College Park.


Now comes Sorcerer on Blu-Ray, a vivid fix supervised by William Friedkin, who put life's blood to his '77 project, only to see it mishandled since. Tangled rights were an issue, even as fans clamored for fit revival. Sorcerer is cold-as-ice storytelling, none of characters likeable, that largely a point of 70's flipping the bird at movies as they'd been. More bracing then than now? Could be, but the thing still clicks for me, especially when in a mood for pitiless pics. Took effort in '77 keeping the ensemble straight, what with Roy Scheider the only familiar face among foreign guys new to me. That too, of course, was aspect of get-used-to-it upturn of convention once mavericks like Friedkin got keys to kingdom. He's lately out with memoirs, by the way. We think of that filmmaking generation as forever young, but Friedkin will be seventy-nine this year. The man can rest on laurels of The French Connection, Sorcerer, and To Live and Die In L.A., if not ones I've yet to see. Are there others of his as good? (and don't say The Exorcist --- that's where I came out of the Capri in Charlotte and walked along a mile-long line saying "Turn back," "Don't go in," "It's a stinker." Remarkable the childish things you do even as late as age 20).

4 Comments:

Blogger Mike Cline said...

I don't share your opinion of THE EXORCIST, but remember well our exiting Bo Derek's TARZAN THE APE MAN. You told everyone in line it was a stinker as well. That time, we were in agreement.

10:40 AM  
OpenID fiftieswesterns said...

Glad to see you give this one some attention. It's a favorite of mine, leading me to put this together: http://sorcerer1977.wordpress.com/

(There's more to life than 50s Westerns.)

The Blu-ray is stunning at times, such a huge improvement over the laserdisc and previous DVD. It brought back vivid memories of film grain and an empty house at Raleigh's Valley Twin.

11:17 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer writes of stripped-down theatres he's known:


"It's really bad. Don't waste your money," I called out to a line of guys with their dates, waiting to see the Dino DiLaurentis version of "King Kong." I'm surprised that no one offered me the riposte of a fist sandwich, but they were no doubt shocked by my lack of couth.

As for the down-to-the-cinder-blocks ambience of the College Park Cinema, I was familiar with the equivalent in the TLA in Philadelphia, though it was a down-to-the-bricks variation, since the building went back a ways further. Originally it was a nickleodeon, then a concert hall, then a movie theater owned by Warner Bros., then a movie theater not owned by Warner Bros., and finally the Theatre of the Living Arts, an avant garde site offering hip music and poetry. When that proved unpopular, it began showing films again, but from independents and foreign studios and then, increasingly, the old Hollywood films. During the late sixties through the late eighties, it was the place to go in Philadelphia for reperatory showings. And at some point, the interior was gutted to the bare brick walls, with a couple of acoustic pads to finesse the horrible acoustics. After the reperatory movement died a death with the availability of VHS, it became a music venue again and remains so to this day, mostly with the grungier rock groups, though the group my nephew Carson was lead guitar for, The Tombs, also made it one of their stops for a couple of years. Evidently the acoustics were no longer considered a problem.

Daniel

1:40 PM  
Blogger rnigma said...

Is William Friedkin related to David Friedkin, the radio and TV scripter who often partnered with Morton Fine?

11:01 PM  

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