Friday, February 23, 2018

Wrestling with THE MAN WHO HAD POWER OVER WOMEN (1970)


Recently, on his blog News From Me, writer Mark Evanier brought this film to my attention. For years he has desired to rewatch it for the first time since it premiered in 1970 but, because it's a hard to find title, his attempts have failed. Mr. Evanier is a fan of Rod Taylor (as he should be) and remembers this film as being made up of parts both good and bad. His wish to revisit the film to see if, decades later, his memory and feelings would mirror his initial reaction struck a cord with me. He states that what he remembers is that, although the actors were very good, there was something about the movie that just seemed a little off or that somehow didn't work. He made note of the fact that Turner Classic Movies was screening the movie several months ago and, being a Rod Taylor fan, I had the DVR grab it. Now that I've seen the movie I can understand his mixed emotions.

There are almost no likeable characters in THE MAN WHO HAD POWER OVER WOMEN (1970). In a way I think this is good because we see both good and bad aspects of a few of the characters but none of these people are folks that I would like to spend any time around in anything other than a finite feature-length slab of time.


Rod Taylor plays a PR man or fixer for a music company and he spends most of his time dealing with the problems and emotional upsets of the company's most profitable music star Barry Black. Mr. Black is exactly the caricature of the nightmare egomaniac we all fear highly successful music stars are in real life. He's vain, self-centered, illogical, needlessly cruel, craven, quick to anger, twitchy and just generally a miserable person striving to all around him just as miserable and unhappy as he is. The music company is currently in the process of dealing with the fact that Mr. Black has gotten one of his teenage fans pregnant and once again the company is arranging for an illegal abortion to make this unfortunate problem go away. Rod Taylor's character is not happy about this situation and seems very upset that they're pushing this girl to do something that she probably doesn't want to do. He also seems upset that this is seen as just another budgetary line item for the company in dealing with their profitable but unstable star. It's not clear just how much his frustration with having to make Black's life smooth is playing into his anger at this horrible situation but it's clear his disintegrating marriage is adding to his problems.

This is a well done film and overall I liked it but I can understand Mr. Evanier's conflicted feelings. I'm not someone that needs likeable characters to enjoy a film but there is precious little light in the dark world that this movie presents. Even the deserved comeuppance in the final scene - while satisfying - seems like just another step down the descent into hell for everyone concerned. It's a well made, well acted, smartly scripted story that feels like there was a vital part missing. It might have been hope or it might have been joy but I fear it could have been heart.


As a side note, this film is based on a novel by Gordon Williams but it reminded me of Harlan Ellison's book Rockabilly a.k.a. Spider'sKiss first published in 1961. Ellison's story is about a very talented country boy singer that rises to the top and uses his fame and power to lure any woman he can into bed. He leaves broken hearts and nasty scandals everywhere he goes all of which have to cleaned up by his greedy manager who doesn't want anything to taint his cash cow. Eventually the singer's growing megalomania and paranoia has him treating everyone around him like crap until he is caught in a scandal that takes some serious criminal action to cover up. These two stories feel like American vs British versions of the same tale although both of them owe a huge debt to the classic Elia Kazan film A FACE IN THE CROWD (1957) with Andy Griffith being the insufferable music star with a heart of black ice. Somebody should write an article about these three tales and any others that fit the template. Wish I had more time. 



Thursday, February 22, 2018

Trailers From Hell - DEEP COVER (1992)



Until this popped up on TFH I had nearly forgotten about it. And I know I haven't watched it since catching it in the theater in 1992 so it's long past time for a return visit. Sadly, there is no Blu-Ray of this excellent crime film so I'll have to seek out a DVD. DEEP COVER is ready for it's hi-def debut, Kino-Lorber. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

1970's Science Fiction Podcast Episodes

Since posting the latest Bloody Pit show I've been asked by a few newcomers to the podcast about the past episodes on which Randy co-hosted. As it has been over a year since he last joined me to discuss 1970's science fiction cinema I thought it might be a good idea to provide a handy set of links for the curious. Here are the previous episodes in which he and I talk about the subject -










And, although he is not the only guest on this one, Randy definitely adds a lot to the discussion of this mad classic! 



We promise to bring more 70's SF to the show in 2018! 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Bloody Pit #64 - ROLLERBALL (1975)


Randy Fox returns to the podcast and we resume our discussion of the science fiction films of the 1970's. It's been over a year since the two of us sat down for a long talk about the incredible SF movies made before STAR WARS warped the genre out of shape but it felt like it was just last week. One reason for that is our topic in this episode is an under sung classic that appeals to the more mature in the audience than to the under twenty set. As people who first encountered ROLLERBALL as kids we can attest that our younger selves enjoyed the action set-pieces but that many of the more adult concepts flew over our heads. But watching this film in middle age certainly brings home just how profound and thoughtful it is. The best science fiction often holds up a dark mirror to our lives and asks question about the human condition that resonate because of their timelessness. The bloody violence on display has much to say about who we are in the real 2018 as it does about the movie's fiction 21st century.

Our discussion of the film touches on the career of director Norman Jewison and the script's fidelity to the source material. Credit has to go to Jewison for bringing in the original short story author William Harrison to craft the screenplay. We talk about the actors' performances with attention paid to lead James Caan's ability to convey the depths of a man without the words to express himself clearly. We dig into the future society of the movie and how it's structure resembles other literary dystopian visions from Brave New World, 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 while marveling at the detailed game system set up to make Rollerball a sport that feels realistic. Plus, any film with Ralph Richardson complaining that the planet's computer system has misplaced the whole history of the 13th century is worth seeing!

Join us for this return to smart science fiction where ideas are presented in intelligent ways even as heads get busted and people are set on fire! Send any comments or suggestions to thebloodypit@gmail.com where we'll be happy to learn your thoughts on the SF films made before Star Wars. Thank you for downloading and listening.

iTunes LINK 

Direct MP3 Download LINK

Or, play it here -







Thursday, February 15, 2018

What I Watched In January


There are, of course, two basic types of Guillermo del Toro films. There is the giant, crowd-pleasing action / horror film (BLADE 2, PACIFIC RIM, HELLBOY) and then there is the thoughtful, creepy, atmospheric horror film (CRONOS, THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE, PAN'S LABYRINTH). The fact that all he really makes are horror films is one of the many things that endears him to me. I will go to my grave wondering what he could have done if allowed to film The Hobbit in the way that he wanted.

As it stands we only get a film from Guillermo once every three years or so, therefore it's best to just bide your time, go to the theater and enjoy yourself. This time out he's in the more serious thoughtful horror film mode which means that the movie centers on a single creature or horrific event and how it affects the people around it. I'll just add my voice to the choir and say that THE SHAPE OF WATER is one of the best films I saw from 2017 and one of del Toro's best films overall. I'm not ashamed to admit that the film hit me on many emotional levels and by the end I was weeping tears of joy. If I had one criticism of the film it's that I feel that our main character played by Sally Hawkins goes a little too quickly from 'Oh my God, it's a monster' to 'I'm intrigued - let's see if I can communicate with it'. But that's a minor problem in a film with so much beauty, so much grace and so much heart.

The List

THE RISING OF THE MOON (1957) - 8 
FROM HELL IT CAME (1957)- 6 (rewatch) (I love this bad film!)
GET OUT (2017)- 9 (rewatch) 
THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017) - 9 
THE GHOST GALLEON (1974) - 5 (rewatch) 
ATTACK OF THE 50 FT. WOMAN (1993) - 5 (interesting remake) 
HOT CARS (1956) - 7 
DALEKS INVASION EARTH 2015 A.D. (1966) - 5 
BRINGING UP BABY (1944) -9 (rewatch) 
MR. MOTO'S GAMBLE (1938) - 5 
THE IRON SWORDSMAN (1949) - 7 (Freda knight tale) 
ELEVEN MEN AND A GIRL (1930) - 5 
THE GREEN SLIME (1968) - 7 (rewatch) 
THE MYSTERIOUS RIDER (1948) - 8 (Freda's exciting tale of Casanova) 
JACK THE RIPPER (1959) - 6
BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN (2017) - 7 



Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Trailer - MY BLOODY VALENTINE (1981)



I'd love to get in a viewing of this one this week! 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Diana Rigg - The Definition of 1960's Beauty











Because you can never have enough of her in your life!