Sunday, August 09, 2009


Bill Lustig (director of notable genre films, Maniac, Vigilante, Maniac Cop and owner of Blue Underground) is an exploitation film maven. Last year at Anthology Film Archives Lustig put together a series of vigilante films (which I missed unfortunately). This year he's back with "The Seventies - Buried Treasures," a series of gritty genre films, none of which are available on DVD. The series opened on Friday and I made a beeline to catch THE STONE KILLER, Charles Bronson and director Michael Winner's transitional teaming between THE MECHANIC and DEATH WISH, and THE OUTFIT, an adaptation of a Richard Stark/Donald Westlake novel, featuring Robert Duvall and Joe Don Baker. Before THE STONE KILLER, Jed of Anthology brought Bill Lustig out and they called up director Michael Winner in London on a cell phone. Bill put the phone in front of a mic and did a little q & a / intro with the director. Winner said he and Bronson were in a car on their way to JFK after wrapping STONE KILLER when he said to Bronson, "I have a script about a man who's wife and daughter are mugged so he goes out and starts shooting muggers," to which Bronson said, "I'd like to do that. I'd like to shoot muggers." Brand new print of THE STONE KILLER, which could be described as a good Dirty Harry knockoff. It's based on a novel called A Complete State of Death. According to Winner the producers didn't like that title, but they kept it as a line in the script. Not the greatest Bronson movie, but hard boiled and violent fun as expected. Stuart Margolin was great as the ex-army soldier hired by the mob to run an elaborate revenge scheme. I'm sure you all remember him as Angel in The Rockford Files. Towards the end of the film a big POP was heard when the projector bulb blew. They switched the reel to the other projector in five minutes, during which time Lustig said something like - 'this is part of the old 42nd St experience' and then started reminiscing with other folks in the audience about the grindhouses
back in the day ('guards with steel-toed boots' etc.). Since that bulb blew they had to move THE OUTFIT to the downstairs theatre. It was packed. Paul Giamatti sat behind me. THE OUTFIT was great. Same director as ROLLING THUNDER, John Flynn. Robert Duvall starred as the badass out of prison going after money he felt the mob owed him. It's from another Richard Stark novel, so similar plot to POINT BLANK. Joe Don Baker was Duvall's buddy / partner.
Cool cast also featured Karen Black, Timothy Carey, Robert Ryan, Sheree North and some other characters. Violent and mean spirited. Cinematically Flynn is very matter of fact, not stylized, tells stories well and gets good performances. One thing is that you'd think the mob would have more muscle at some of their undergournd casinos and so forth. It's kind of easy for Duvall and Baker to take what they want. Still, lots of fun, I recommend it.

ROLLING THUNDER is one of the top revenge movies. Dig the voice over in this great trailer.