James Edward Caan
March 26, 1940 – July 6, 2022
James Caan is without doubt one of my favorite actors. From Howard Hawks’ El Dorado (1966) to Thief (1981), he cranked out one terrific movie after another. He passed away yesterday at 82.
To me, James Caan pretty much OWNED 70s cinema. The Godfather (1972). The Gambler (1974). Freebie And The Bean (1974). Rollerball (1975, above). The Killer Elite (1975). Harry And Walter Go To New York (1976). A Bridge Too Far (1977). And the largely-forgotten Slither (1973), still one of my all-time favorite films. He was great, and so intense, in action pictures, but he had a real flair for goofy, subtle comedy stuff, too.
In more recent years, Caan had a wonderful Twitter account, often sharing a photo from, or thought about, one of his pictures. I’m gonna miss you, Mr. Caan.
Don Siegel’s films are scattered throughout my list of all-time favorites — if I was to ever sit down and make such a list. Here are some photos I’ve come across while researching him for various things (some of these images have appeared on this blog before, but are worth repeating).
Up top, there’s Siegel directing Clint Eastwood in Two Mules For Sister Sara (1970). The original screenplay was by Budd Boetticher, who was supposed to direct (he ended up with only a story credit). Budd not happy with the finished film, which co-starred Shirley MacLaine. The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner called the picture “a solidly entertaining film that provides Clint Eastwood with his best, most substantial role to date; in it he is far better than he has ever been. In director Don Siegel, Eastwood has found what John Wayne found in John Ford and what Gary Cooper found in Frank Capra.” They’d make five movies together.
Here he is with Ronald Reagan and Vinveca Lindfors (Mrs. Siegel at the time) shooting Night Unto Night (1949).
Neville Brand and Dabbs Greer (?) get direction from Siegel on Riot In Cell Block 11 (1954).
Nick Adams and Siegel go over the script for Hell Is For Heroes (1962).
Siegel, Angie Dickinson, Claude Akins and John Cassavettes (back of his head) on the set of The Killers (1964).
With Eastwood on the set of Coogan’s Bluff (1968), their first picture together.
Andy Robinson goes over the script with Siegel on Dirty Harry (1971).
Siegel and Walter Matthau having a laugh on Charley Varrick (1973). I think Don’s wearing the same hat he has on in the photo from The Killers.
Eastwood and Siegel on location for Escape From Alcatraz (1979).
I was trying to find a picture of Siegel working on Baby Face Nelson (1957), one of his best, but had no luck. It’s highly underrated, probably because it’s almost impossible to see.
Filed under 1954, 1957, 1964, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1979, Angie Dickinson, Budd Boetticher, Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, Nick Adams, Steve McQueen, Universal (-International), Walter Matthau
Directed by Buzz Kulik
Starring Burt Reynolds, Dyan Cannon, John P. Ryan, Joe Santos, Larry Block
Burt Reynolds is in his early-70s prime in Shamus (1973), a cool private eye picture co-starring Dyan Cannon. Kino Lorber will be bringing it to Blu-Ray later this year.
Burt’s a pool-shooting PI hired to track down some stolen diamonds. Naturally, he gets into all sorts of trouble along the way.
Shamus has great NYC location stuff and a pre-Rockford Files Joe Santos. Director Buzz Kulik worked steadily in TV, directing lots of outstanding TV movies (such as Brian’s Song). Shamus is one of his few theatrical films. Recommended.
Sally Clare Kellerman
(June 2, 1937 – February 24, 2022)
Sally Kellerman, who most folks remember as Hot Lips Houlihan in Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H (1970), has passed away at 84.
She’s hysterical in one of my all-time favorite films, Slither (1973, above) with James Caan and Peter Boyle. If you haven’t seen it, by all means do. It’s a perfectly goofy 70s movie, and she pretty much steals the picture as Kitty Kopetzky.
Ned Thomas Beatty
(July 6, 1937 – June 13, 2021)
He’ll always be remembered for Deliverance (1972), his first movie, but Ned Beatty was terrific in all sorts of things. He passed away yesterday at 83.
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Beatty was in some key films of the 70s — Deliverance, White Lightning (1973, above), All The President’s Men (1974), Network (1976, which landed him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor), Superman (1978) and 1941 (1979). The decade was loaded with great character actors, and he was at the top of the heap.
More good stuff followed, from Hopscotch (1980) to Toy Story 3 (2010). He’s a lot of fun in a pretty terrible thing called Rolling Vengeance (1987).
Filed under 1973, Ned Beatty
My junior year in high school, I got to choose the movie that ran in the school auditorium on our last day before the Christmas break. (There was also a band playing in the cafeteria.)
I chose Freddie Francis’s The Creeping Flesh (1973), starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. It was a beautiful 16mm print from Films Incorporated.
Now I don’t want to get callouses from patting myself on the back, but I think I made a wise choice. And ever since, I think of it as a Christmas movie.
Here’s wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
(born Allen Goorwitz; November 22, 1939 – April 7, 2020)
COVID-19 has claimed a great character actor, Mr. Allen Garfield.
He’s in some key 70s films, like Coppola’s The Conversation (1974) and Altman’s Nashville (1975), along with The Candidate (1972), Friedkin’s The Brinks Job (1978) and The Stunt Man (1980). And he’s got a great part in one of my all-time favorites, Slither (1973, above).
If I had a nickel for every minute I stared at this FM cover as kid…
For their 1000th release (or spine number), The Criterion Collection has gone very big with a great big giant box of Godzilla movies. Not those new things — no thank you — but the real ones.
Of course, this being a Criterion release, you can count on each of these the films — all 15 Godzilla movies released from 1954 to 1975 — shining like a jewel. And naturally, there will be tons of extras, from alternate versions to commentaries to documentaries and trailers and so on. Does my heart good to know the work of Mr. Honda and Mr. Tsuburaya will get the level of respect these folks will give it.
The films are:
Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1963, 2.35 AR)
Mothra Vs. Godzilla (1964, 2.35 AR)
Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964 2.35 AR)
Invasion Of Astro-Monster (1965, 2.35 AR)
Son Of Godzilla (1967, 2.35 AR)
Destroy All Monsters (1968, 2.35 AR)
All Monsters Attack (1969, 2.35 AR)
Godzilla Ss. Hedorah (1971, AKA Godzilla Vs. The Smog Monster, 2.35 AR)
Godzilla Vs. Gigan (1972, 2.35 AR)
Godzilla Vs. Megalon (1973, 2.35 AR)
Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (1974, 2.35 AR)
Terror Of Mechagodzilla (1975, 2.35 AR)
I absolutely love some of these movies. One of them I hate with a passion. Son Of Godzilla is criminally lame, and at 10, I considered it the worst movie I’d ever seen (that was before The Witches Of Eastwick). The very thought of making my way through this thing (yes, even Son Of Godzilla) makes me happy.
Stomping its way to TVs everywhere in October. Make sure yours is one of them.
Filed under 1954, 1955, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, AIP, Criterion Collection, DVD/Blu-ray News, Eiji Tsuburaya, Famous Monsters Of Filmland, Ishirō Honda, Kaiju Movies, Toho
Directed by Eddie Romero
Starring John Ashley, Patrick Wayne, Leigh Christian, George Nader, Sid Haig, Lenore Stevens
VCI has announced the upcoming Blu-Ray release (March 12) of Eddie Romero’s Beyond Atlantis (1973). This time around, Romero and producer-star John Ashley aimed a bit higher and added Patrick Wayne to the mix. With a transfer form the original 35mm negative and a commentary, interviews and other extras, this should be a lot of tacky fun.
In the fall of 1973, there was evidently a wave of UFO sightings all across the US. There were a couple in the Reno, Nevada, area. The Granada Theatre acted quickly, booking a couple of sci-fi pictures for a midnight show — The Day Mars Invaded The Earth (1962) and The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951).
Fun local bookings are something I really miss, whether they’re Halloween marathons at the drive-in or something more topical like this one. Going to the movies used to be so much fun.