Blu-Ray News #324: Targets (1968).

Directed by Peter Bogdanivich
Starring Boris Karloff, Tim O’Kelly, Peter Bogdanovich

Targets tells the stories of a troubled young man with a thing for guns (Tim O’Kelly) and an aging horror film star (Boris Karloff). O’Kelly’s character is based on Charles Whitman, who shot a bunch of people from the tower at the University Of Texas in Austin in 1966. Karloff’s character is based on, well, Boris Karloff. The movie gets creepier, and more topical, as time goes on. It also illustrates the shift from Gothic horror to more contemporary horror in a very literal way.

Targets came about because Boris Karloff owed Roger Corman a couple days’ work. Corman let Peter Bogdanovich make a picture out of the two days of Karloff and some footage from The Terror (1963). Bogdanovich and his wife Polly Platt based the story on Whitman, which was then in the news. Samuel Fuller helped out on the script, without credit or payment. The director managed to sell the picture to Paramount, which landed Corman a profit before it was even released.

The British Film Institute is bringing Targets to Blu-ray in March 2021, which will give us all a good look at the cinematography by László Kovács. The BFI will certainly load this up with supplemental stuff, too, making for a terrific package, I’m sure (hopefully, they’ll keep Bogdanovich’s commentary from the Paramount DVD). Highly recommended.

15 Comments

Filed under 1968, BFI, Boris Karloff, DVD/Blu-ray News, Paramount, Peter Bogdanovich, Roger Corman

15 responses to “Blu-Ray News #324: Targets (1968).

  1. Barry Lane

    From that time all of my film-making friends wanted to be another Bogdanovich. Me too.

    Like

  2. john k

    Mighty fine to see Barry on board the H8,that makes 2 regulars………
    where’s everybody else??

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bert Greene

    Been a good 25 years since I viewed “Targets,” but I do recall it being pretty riveting. Not sure it’s really the kind of thing that fits cozily into my disc collection (where my dvd investments lean towards easy-going rewatchability). Out of curiosity, I would like to see the movie again, however. I seem to remember it’s a film that leaves a lot of the interpretation up to the viewer, which I’m prone to appreciate.

    Usually a lot of pitfalls in that sort of storyline. I remember “The Sniper” (1952) being an excellent film for most of its running-time, but then ending with a lot of psychological mumbo-jumbo, explaining the motivations of our loathsome killer, like he was some poor, misguided soul. Found it so unpalatable, it pretty much ruined the movie for me. I just have a super-low tolerance for the post-war trend of blaming villainy on things from psychological demons to societal environment. Nothing ruins a good western or detective yarn for me than the feeling the screenwriter has dragged in a psychiatrist’s couch or an Ivy League sociology professor into the proceedings. Heck, I don’t even like my ‘protagonists’ to be all burdened with excessive emotional baggage and angst, much less the baddies.

    Which admittedly is why I’m sometimes a bit on the fence even with a lot of really fine 1950s western classics, and sometimes have a sort of love-hate relationship with them. Even more pronounced in 1960s television. It’s that fine line between well-delineated characters with interesting backstories, and characters too motivated, too wrapped-up, in their inner psyches. Sometimes I’ve even postulated how much these fictional exercises in dwelling on inner selves might have cultivated the trendlines from baby-boomer narcissism to “me” generations to our modern culture which seems so pathetically defined by litanies of grievances.

    But whew! That’s a whole ‘nother tangent, and certainly straying from the topic of “Targets.” Or is it?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Funny you’d bring this backstory thing up. I was just thinking the other day how the ONLY thing I could knock Psycho for is the “explanation” at the end with Simon Oakland. Or maybe that gives us a breather, which makes that final shot of Anthony Perkins so powerful.

      I love The Sniper!

      Like

  4. Bert Greene

    Yep, not really too fond of those end-tags for either “Psycho” or “The Sniper.” A slight difference between the two is that I felt the “Psycho” end with Oakland a bit patronizing, as if it implied the audience was full of uneducated children, who required a full-blooded explanation for Bates’ behavior. The explaining done in “The Sniper” leaned (for me) a bit more on the side of trying to intellectually absolve Franz of his actions. Eh. Thumbs down on both. Although, I think the latter rankles me more.

    In contrast, there was a fascinating half-hour episode of “Naked City” (1958-59) that went counter to this trend. An ordinary, law-abiding citizen with no record, suddenly goes out and starts shooting and killing people randomly in his neighborhood. The police conduct a manhunt, as he’s still on the loose, and still a threat. All the witnesses and all the acquaintances of the killer are completely shocked and baffled, and express questions as to what made him snap. You expect the script to wrap up by revealing some grand explanation to this mystery. That’s how these typical narratives conclude. But in this episode it doesn’t. The answer is that there is ‘no answer.’ The community is under threat, and all that matters is the police must act and extinguish it. To restore safety and restore order. Motivations are irrelevant to the problem at hand, and don’t necessarily bespeak of some extraneous cultural or social issue. I thought that was a pretty ballsy take, and certainly went against the trendy tide of the times.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Barry Lane

      B=ert Greene, your points are better than well taken. I lost interest in Psycho about halfway through. Certianly could not relate to Perkins or the detectives, but glad John Gavin scored. The Sniper was better, but my attitude was, and I saw it in 1952, who gives a rat’s ass. Just execute him.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. John Hall

    I just watched an episode of the Kent Taylor BOSTON BLACKIE television series that was filmed at the Reseda Drive-In. The ZIV produced series features lots of incredible location footage around the LA area from the early ’50s.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. john k

    The H8’s on fire!!!!
    I guess the ultimate sniper movie is DIRTY HARRY
    no psychobabble about what made Scorpio so rotten,Andy Robinson so
    chilling in that movie.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Bert Greene

    Well, John, I took your “where is everybody?” as a cue, if not an invitation to be a little more sociable, although I’m invariably questioning what I might have to offer here at H8’s rather varied topics.

    If Barry is still handy, I do have a rather esoteric and off-topic question for him (with Toby’s indulgence). I’d be curious to know if he recalls Louis Hayward ever discussing a film he made with Anna Lee, entitled “Chelsea Life” (1933). And perhaps any knowledge as to whether the film is even extant. Survival rates on some of those British early-talkies seem a bit spotty, from what I gather.

    By the way, I LOVE the “Boston Blackie” tv-series that Ziv produced. Such great location-work around LA, usually utilized for the action finale in each episode. Don’t recall ever catching that one showing off that Reseda Drive-In Theater, unfortunately. If only the series could have been released on dvd back when Timeless had that deal with MGM/UA and was putting out box-sets to other Ziv shows like “Harbor Command,” “Tombstone Territory,” “West Point Story” and such.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Barry Lane

      Bert, Louis, and I discussed all of his films in detail but not the British; pictures made prior to 1935. And I would love to have a look at Chelsea Life.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bert Greene

        Appreciate the reply, Barry! That’s a film I’ve been curious to see, especially as I’ve always liked Hayward a lot. I’d been on a kick of checking out Anna Lee’s British film output the past year or two. I met her a few times, including a nice visit to her home where I got to talk about her career. But back then I was woefully ignorant over much of her 1930s British work. In those pre-internet days, a lot of that type of information wasn’t easy to come by. It makes me want to kick myself, thinking back to so many missed opportunities regarding subject-matter I wished I might have brought into conversation.

        I’d noticed how the UK disc label Network had really excavated deep into the vaults and released a slew of British films I’d been completely unaware of. I had no idea that actresses such as Helen Chandler or Thelma Todd had journeyed there and each made a movie. Nor did I know Charles Bickford had, headlining “Red Wagon” (1933), a circus melodrama. I knew both June Clyde and Laura La Plante stayed there a fair while and made films. Some folks stayed there for good, like Constance Cummings, Bessie Love, and such. But anyway, JohnK is more of an expert on this topic of American stars in British productions, although the conversations usually lean more towards the post-war examples. I’m just continually surprised, always learning something new, it seems. Glad a lot of these rare/obscure films have been filtering out in recent times.

        Liked by 3 people

  8. Barry Lane

    More about Anna Lee, Bert. I have always been an admirer of hers.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. John Hall

    Bert,
    I’ve posted some of the footage from the Reseda Drive-In BOSTON BLACKIE episode on the Facebook page “On Location: Filming Location History Around the Los Angeles Area”. I’ve posted another one earlier and more are coming. Most of the posts are from lackluster prints but are watchable.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. john k

    Before DAY THE WORLD ENDED there was FIVE (1951)

    Imprint,Australia in February are releasing Arch Oboler’s film on Blu Ray
    with a 2K restoration and a host of extras.
    With FIVE making it’s Worldwide Blu Ray debut I guess anything’s possible.
    It’s a long shot on my part but I reckon Mr Roan is VERY excited about this
    release…I only wish these Imprint Blu Ray’s were more widely available-
    time to open an account with an Australian Video company I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

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