He's one of my all time favorite actors, so of the DVD's released today, none get me more excited than the Robert Mitchum Signature Collection Box Set. In it you will find Sydney Pollack's The Yakuza, Otto Preminger's terrific noir Angel Face (which has a great car crash scene), Joseph von Sternberg's sultry Macao, Vincent Minelli's Home From the Hill, Fred Zinneman's The Sundowners and Burt Kennedy's The Good Guys and the Bad Guys.
Sure, there's other stuff being released, but it's all about Mitchum for me.
As for now, Three Obsessions (in addition to Black Snake Moan of course):
1. Dead End (1937) The first in the series of pictures that depicted that rough and tumble group of depression-era youths, The Dead End Kids (later known as The Bowery Boys) is also one of their best. Though Angles With Dirty Faces is their finest film appearance (They Made Me A Criminal with John Garfield is a strong contender as well), Dead End was our first glimpse of the wise-acre bunch that included Billy Halop, Huntz Hall and Leo Gorcey (you really should read his autobiography--a total gas). Beautifully directed by William Wyler, the picture stars Humphrey Bogart as a gangster returning to his old neighborhood, a slum where the boys fight, steal and generally run amuck to the concern of the nice young woman Sylvia Sidney (gorgeous) who’d like better for them. Though the boys are snarly little jerks at times, they're often very funny and touching. The film offers a sensitive look at what its title states—a dead end—and how the poor are fighting for survival. As the nice architect Dave (Joel McCrea) states about the boys: “What chance have they got against all this? They gotta fight for a place to play, fight for the likes of something to eat, fight for everything. They got used to fighting. ‘Enemies of Society,” it says in the papers. Why not? What have they got to be so friendly about?” Indeed.
2. Burnt Offerings (1976) I remember watching this on TV as a kid and it scared the ever-living shit out of me. And watching it again, I don't care what the critics say--it still holds up. This is largely due to its exceptional cast. Oliver Reed? He's both frightening and incredibly sympathetic as a dad who tries to drown his son in the swimming pool (he feels bad about it later). And when Karen Black (whom I worship) is scary, she's beyond terrifying. She's also crazy sexy on top. And then there's the added benefit of a sublime Bette Davis being both natural in that hip grandmother way, and then nutjob over-the-top when she starts quite literally, falling apart (my god when her back goes out, watch the fuck out). The Shining-like tale of a family affected by the hauntings of an old mansion they’ve rented for the summer showcases some seriously horrifying moments. One that still gets me involves Black, her fingernails and a music box. Yes, a music box is actually scary. Creepy, sometimes funny but grim to the end, the film does offer up some helpful advice: Whatever you do, don’t rent a home from Burgess Meredith.
3.Ike and Tina, Musikladen 1974 I'm one of those people who love Ike and Tina Turner so much that there are days where their break-up makes me ridiculously sad. I mean, why? Why did Ike have to take it so far? Anyway, if you've read this blog, you know I've sung both their praises and especially, Ike (Ike, a lot) who I think is truly, the father of rock and roll. With that, I collect every Ike and Tina record and performance I can get my hands on and this performance is one of my favorites. "Get it On." Ike in massive sunglasses singing (I love it when Ike sings) while playing guitar on a stool, Tina belting out her insane talent while decked out in a skimpy brown get-up, The Ikette's in weird orange dresses--this is the personfication of long legs, cocaine eyes and absolute pure, dysfunctional sex (the best kind). Why did it have to go away?