Category Archives: Gene Hackman

The marathon man: 6 great roles of Roy Scheider

Scheider 1I’ve been a long time fan of American actor Roy Scheider. But it was only after a recent viewing of his performance in the Alan J Pakula’s 1971 film, Klute, I realised despite having seen and liked him in a number of films I knew very little about his overall career.

I recently reviewed Klute on this site here, so I won’t go into further detail about the film except to say that Scheider is great as Bree Daniel’s former pimp, Frank Ligourin. His is not a large role, just one or two short scenes, but his presence elevates the entire movie and gives it an additional layer of malevolence. That’s Scheider in every movie I’ve seen him in. He elevates and heightens what’s already present.

Scheider could act and had a great presence, his ropey, perpetually suntanned body and his slightly askew, angular face with the broken nose, a legacy of his time boxing in New Jersey’s Diamond Golden Gloves Competition.The first time I can remember seeing him was when my parents took me to see Steve Speilberg’s Jaws upon its release in 1975. That was probably his best-known role but it was just one among many. He got his start in television and gradually moved into the big screen.… Read more

Mud, madness and masculinity: William Friedkin’s Sorcerer

scheiderPerfect films usually only ever appear so in retrospect. A case in point is Sorcerer, William Friedkin’s 1977 reimagining of the Henri-Georges Clouzot 1953 classic, The Wages of Fear.

The gloriously remastered print of Sorcerer, showing as part of the Melbourne International Film Festivals ‘Masters and Restorations’ program, is an incredible tale of failed masculinity, predatory capitalism and madness.

It was a commercial flop upon release, only recouping nine million of its original twenty one million dollar budget, largely due to appearing at almost the exact same time as the first instalment of Star Wars. Friedkin viewed it as the toughest job of his career. Shooting was littered with accidents and problems, including the film’s riveting central scene, where trucks must cross a rickety rope and timber bridge over a raging river in the middle of a fierce tropical storm. The sequence, due to weather and other reasons, occurred over two countries and took three months to shoot.

Three men, on the run from past mistakes, have ended end up in a run down, impoverished town in an unspecified Latin American banana republic (the real location being the Dominican Republic, which at the time was under an actual military dictatorship).

Jackie (Roy Scheider) was part of a heist on a Catholic Church that ended in a car crash in which all the other members of the gang are killed.… Read more

The heist always goes wrong, part 1: ten of the best heist movies ever made

asphalt01I love a good heist film.

I love the genius and intricacy of their plots and the variations they come in, whether it be the all star team assembled for a job or the desperate ex-cons trying for one last score.

But most of all I love them because of the golden rule of all good heist films – for whatever reason, the heist always goes wrong.

What do you need for a good heist?

You need a plan for actual heist itself, the getaway, and moving, storing and fencing whatever it is you’ve stolen. The more complicated the plan, the more likely it is that something will go wrong.

You need a crew of people; one man or woman alone cannot do a heist. This introduces the human element and all the problems that come with it, the greed, suspicions, jealousies and uncertainties.

I’ve been thinking for a while now about what my top ten-heist films would be and the following list, in no particular order, is it.

The robbery itself is almost immaterial to how I rate a good heist film. What I like is the context and atmosphere in which the heist takes place and inevitable problems that arise after it’s been pulled off. And the darker and more broken things get, the better the film is in my book.… Read more

Night Moves


One of the things I like best about the Christmas/New Year period is it’s a good chance to catch up on my movie viewing. This holiday season I re-watched the neo-noir, Night Moves. Made in 1973, but not released until 1975, Night Moves belongs to a period of US film making that is probably my favourite. It’s a complex, meandering and multi-layered film that perfectly captures the moral and political ambiguity of the time. I wanted to review Night Moves for this site but discovered a recent post on the same topic that does it much better than I ever could by a friend called Dean Brandum.

Dean’s the man behind a terrific web site called Technicolor Yawn (for overseas readers that’s Australian slang for throwing up), which chronicles the history of Melbourne’s now vanished grindhouse cinema scene in the seventies and early eighties. He’s a great guy and what he doesn’t know about cinema is not worth knowing. The following review appeared on his site in mid-December. Enjoy.

BTW, I’ll be interviewing Dean about Melbourne’s forgotten grindhouse cinema scene on Pulp Curry sometime in the next few weeks.

“I remember Bobby (Kennedy) when he got shot, the newsreels made it look like everything was happening under water” – Paula (Jennifer Warren) in Night Moves 

It’s that certain visual aesthetic; let’s call it “muted Cannon with a chance of showers” that veneers so many Los Angeles set film noir of the early 1970s, differentiating it from the monochrome 40s-50s and the swimming pool enhanced glare of the 1960s.… Read more

Prime Cut

Want to talk about a movie that broke the mould when it was made?

Let’s talk about Prime Cut.

Starring Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman and Sissy Spacek, this 1972 film is eighty-eight minutes of pulp weirdness – part exploitation flick, part brutal, hard-boiled, crime story.

Prime Cut was directed by Michael Ritchie, who did no other work of any consequence (with the possible exception of The Candidate, also made in 1972), and written by another relative unknown, Robert Dillon.

Marvin plays Nick Devlin, a tough as nails enforcer who is hired to go to Kansas City and retrieve half a million dollars owed to the Chicago mob by a slaughterhouse Kingpin called Mary Ann (Hackman).

Driving all night, Devlin and his men arrive at Mary Ann’s ranch in the middle of a livestock auction. The slaughterhouse is a legitimate business as well as being a front for a white slavery racket. Groups of well-dressed men wander around the inside of a giant barn, bidding on drugged, naked women, Mary Ann’s ‘livestock’, who have been sourced from orphanages and bus stops.

One of the girls, Poppy (Spacek), manages to ask for help through her drug haze. Marvin takes her ‘on credit’ and leaves, after getting Mary Ann’s agreement to meet him next day and hand over the money.… Read more