I love classic movies – and I love classic movie posters as well – like this one:
“Klute” is a moody thriller about a call girl and the Detective who tries to save her…and then there is this moody thriller about a murder, a young hippie and the Motorcycle Cop who tries to save her…
And finally, here is a film about a cat kidnapping, a wacky cat owner and the aging gumshoe who tries to save her…notice a theme?
Classic 70’s Noir!
Yes, time to celebrate the greatest decade EVER for film – OK, argue all you want, but I am choosing to focus on some classic, nearly forgotten films that define an era, and they also happen to be classic film noir!
Classic film noirs have smoke, guns and dames…by the 70’s they also had color, but these films adhered to what makes film noir “film noir”:
“Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations.”
Yes, all the things I love in a film!
Here are three brilliant, mostly forgotten, but classic film noirs about murder, mayhem, missing businessmen, kidnapped cats, Alan Ladd’s height and the American dream…
Let’s begin with a very young Donald Sutherland tracking down a missing businessman, right into the arms of Oscar-winning call girl Jane Fonda…
Jane Fonda won the Oscar For Best Actress in 1971 for her portrayal of a call girl who dreams of being a great Actress – and the killer she attracts in the process…
Donald Sutherland is John Klute – a small-town Detective whose friend has disappeared in New York City. The only clue is the friend’s connection with a call girl, Bree Daniels…
The film is a mystery, a thriller as a meditation on 70’s New York as well. According to her autobiography, Jane Fonda hung out with call girls and pimps for a week before beginning this film in order to prepare for her role. When none of the pimps offered to “represent” her, she became convinced she wasn’t desirable enough to play a prostitute and urged the director to replace her with friend Faye Dunaway.
The film highlights Jane Fonda’s ability to get under the skin of her character, making you believe she really is a prostitute who just wants to be a star…as she says:
“And for an hour… for an hour, I’m the best actress in the world, and the best fuck in the world.”
Jane Fonda’s Best Actress Oscar acceptance speech for this movie was one of the shortest in movie history: “Thank you…thank you very much members of the Academy and thank all of you who applauded. There’s a great deal to say and I’m not going to say it tonight, I would just like to really thank you very much.”
Bree Daniel: Tell me, Klute. Did we get you a little? Huh? Just a little bit? Us city folk? The sin, the glitter, the wickedness? Huh?
John Klute: Ah – that’s so pathetic.
Bree Daniel: Fuck off!
A great film noir showcasing the seedy side of the early 70’s…and just a few years later, another Oscar winner was looking at the seedy side of the mid-70’s!
“You wanna know somethin’, punk? You were born dumb and you’re gonna die dumb.”
Time to celebrate an Oscar-winning Actor who was also an action star – Art Carney! With so much celebration of the Academy Awards, here is a film starring Oscar winners and nominees, directed by an Oscar-winning Director – so much talent on such a neglected classic!
Wait – WHAT????
Yes, Art Carney was an action star! One of Hollywood’s most unique crossovers of all time began in 1974, when legendary “Honeymooners” TV star Art Carney won Best Actor for his work in the film “Harry And Tonto.”
Here is one of the most unique Oscar photos ever: Best Actor Art Carney hugging Francis Ford Coppola, who won that year for the brilliant “The Godfather Part II”!
Now only was Carney brilliant in this sweet road movie about an old man and his cat, but he parlayed it into a multitude of film roles, including his work as an action star!
“The Nicest Movie You’ll Ever See About Murder And Blackmail!”
Time to celebrate one of the greatest 70’s films ever, the classic:
The Late Show!
Director Robert Benton created one of the best films of the decade – with a terrific cast including Art Carney, Lily Tomlin, Bill Macy and Joanna Cassidy. Benton would go on to win an Oscar for “Kramer Vs. Kramer”, but this late 70’s film noir look at LA is a neglected gem.
Here is the trailer:
“Back in the Forties, this town was crawlin’ with dollies like you. Good-lookin’ coquettes tryin’ their damnedest to act tough as hell. I got news for you: they did it better back then. This town doesn’t change – they just push the names around. Same dames… screwin’ up their lives just the same way.”
That’s Art Carney speaking: a broken down gumshoe struggling to make rent, who has seen it all. He gets a new client, Lily Tomlin, who needs help finding her cat.
“Boy, it’s really lucky for you that I just happen to be a very self-destructive person.”
Tomlin has never been better as a woman full of self-doubt, paranoia and big big dreams! What happens next is one of the best tales of Hollywood noir ever, with terrific acting and a ton of recognizable faces in small roles.
If you only know Art Carney from The Honeymooners, his performance here is amazing, and Lily Tomlin is also outstanding – her best film work ever…
“The Late Show” is poignant, touching, full of action and twists, and oozing with the smell of Hollywood glitter and grime. Director Robert Benton was oscar-nominated for his script…
Carney Kicks Ass!
The best part of the film is Carney as a washed up private eye – who gets a chance to show that he’s a tougher guy than he looks…
There are SO many great supporting characters in this film, but none more memorable than Bill Macy, a veteran character actor from TV’s “Maude”, who is pitch perfect as a small time Hollywood hustler…
Macy captures perfectly the kind of small time hustler who Carney has to deal with as he tries to find Tomlin’s cat…the plot, however, is much much more than that, and a truly great gem of a movie…
Another great 70’s film noir is part thriller, part detective whodunnit, and part scathing look at America post-Vietnam – and it has a mesmerizing performance from none other than Robert Blake…
“Did you know that me and Alan Ladd were exactly the same height?”
Electra Glide In Blue!
This classic action film is the story of a young highway patrolman who finds himself caught between the past and the new, uneasy future that lies ahead…Now on blu-ray!
Check out the trailer:
Robert Blake is dynamic as a short Arizona motorcycle cop who gets his wish and is promoted to Homicide following the mysterious murder of a hermit.
He is forced to confront his illusions about himself and those around him in order to solve the case…
“Incompetence is the worst form of corruption.”
The film was entered into the 1973 Cannes Film Festival. Robert Blake was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance and the film garnered a great deal of critical acclaim upon its nationwide release, but wasn’t a hit – now, you can re-discover this classic film…
The “Chicago” Connection!
“Electra Glide In Blue” was produced and directed by James William Guercio – at the time, best known as the producer of rock band Chicago’s first eleven albums. that is why the soundtrack is populated with band members.
Because of Guercio, several members of the band Chicago appear in minor roles, including Peter Cetera, Terry Kath, Lee Loughnane and Walter Parazaider.
Bassist and lead vocalist for the group “Chicago”, Peter Cetera, plays a character named “Bob Zemko”. A real actor who plays a bit part is also in the cast. His actual name was Bob Zemko.
“Electra Glide In Blue” is more than a murder mystery – the film explores the rising tension between “the establishment” and America’s youth, who reject the old ways.
In the film, Blake has several run-ins with old-timers who don’t want him sticking his nose in where it doesn’t belong…
John Wintergreen: “You listen to me, hatchet artist! You’re tampering with evidence and if you put your finger on one more thing in this room, I’m going to bust your ass! That’s right… the officer in charge is talking to you and he’s saying that you’re going to be arrested as an accessory, after the fact, in a murder case!”
Coroner: “Now you listen to me. I have had had a lot of patience with you. You want to be a policeman. You want to stay on the force. Well you just get the hell out of here and get on that motorcycle and start tagging automobiles… ’cause if I hear one more peep out of that goddamn yap of yours, I’m going to see that you get sent to Siberia!”
First time director James William Guercio wanted the great Conrad L. Hall to photograph this film, but it was not in the budget. Guercio reduced his own salary to one dollar so he could secure Hall as the cinematographer. Shots like this show why…
“Electra Glide In Blue” turned out to be the only film that Guercio ever made…which is a shame, as it is a tight thriller with a much larger message to share…
“Electra Glide In Blue” is a great 70’s film noir – well acted, a terrific plot, nicely directed, and dealing with more important social issues of the time as well…it is now available on DVD, so check it out!
Categories: 70's Cinema, Academy Awards, Action Films, Awards, Books / Media, Comedy Movies, documentary films, Exploitation films, Film Noir, Golden Globes, Great Films, Grindhouse, Independent Cinema, Movies, Movies About Movies, New York, Obscure Movies, Revenge Movies, Sexploitation Movies, Talent/Celebrities, Uncategorized