1977'S ALTERNATIVE ICONS

Back when this blog was on SlamXHype, I upped a piece about my favourite outfits from Paul Schrader films. It was shit. It’s on here somewhere, but it’s weak. I can’t believe I fucked up and made a half-arsed blog post. My excuse? I was probably tired and it was during my ill-fated blog every two days period. Yeah, I know that you love Steve McQueen (I wrote a tribute to him during that shitty period, pertaining to his appearance in ‘The Hunter’ — bad film, good outfit), but yo, nobody cares about his Persols and Rolex any more. You Tumblr’d it irrelevant. If I could be any film icon, I’d be William Devane in John Flynn and Paul Schrader’s 1977 oddity, ‘Rolling Thunder.’ The fact he’s only got one-arm (ruined by a garbage disposal) doesn’t hinder my aspirations one bit. While the excellent VBS ‘Tattoo Age’ documentary on Smith Street Tattoo was a treat today, the death of Tracy Underwood of Phunky Phat Graphics killed my vibe. So I broke out ‘Rolling Thunder’ and watched the violent bits again.

The shotgun sawing, sunglass wearing killing machine’s detached presence makes for a deliberately joyless cinematic experience – the anti ‘Death Wish’ in which neither Devane or Tommy Lee Jones’s (“I’m going to kill a bunch of people.”) characters are particularly happy post-shootout. And what a shootout it is, matching ‘Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia’s bloodshed or the caesarian section bullet-blasting in ‘Way of the Gun.’ Whereas William Lustig’s trashier ‘Vigilante’ — shot five years later —  is gleeful in Robert Forster and Fred Williamson’s dispatch of the bad ‘uns, Schrader never wants to make any of his character studies feel good. I love ‘Rolling Thunder’ and recommend that you watch it as soon as possible. I wish the Major Charles Rane look would catch on and the blind copyists would cut off their naval tattoo speckled right forearms to be more like ‘Rolling Thunder’s main character. It’s good to hear that ‘Rolling Thunder’s long-delayed UK Blu-ray release is set for September.

That Japanese poster might actually be the single greatest movie poster ever created. While I can spend a lot of time on the Internet Movie Firearms Database, I heartily recommend Museum of Cinema (where I pilfered that black and white shot of Devane) and the Grindhouse Database for more information on proper films.

If I was Charles Rane, I wouldn’t settle for the kind of pussy vehicles that McQueen favoured. I’d want to cruise around in the Landmaster from another 1977 flick, albeit a significantly crappier one — ‘Damnation Alley.’ A post-apocalyptic film with George Peppard and Jan Michael-Vincent should have been awesome, but what’s mind-boggling about this film was how lo-fi it looks for something that was aimed at a mass audience. This wasn’t a low budget film, but it’s as if the entire budget was poured into making the car that the crew drive about in. That’s it – the sole good thing about ‘Damnation Alley.’ It was released on Blu-ray after years of fuzzy video purgatory, and that’s only good to ogle the Landmaster — a functioning and and water $350,000 12-wheel creation that was made by pin-stripe and custom car legend Dean Jeffries. There’s a pleasantly obsessive page about it here. Charles Rane in the Landmaster would probably be the most badass thing on earth.

I’m pretty bored of writing stuff at the moment, because I sense we’ve all gone full-circle in just half a decade, but it’s fun working on releases for Mr. Andrew Bunney and Daryl Saunders’s British Remains line. There’s something about seeing your text in typewritten form that’s eerie in a ’70s Mountbatten getting blasted to fuck, Peter Sutcliffe report kind of way. Yet that’s a pleasant antidote to easily copy-pasted paragraphs. I need to interview Andrew on some cinematic and musical matters for this blog at some time. He knows an awful lot.


0 thoughts on “1977'S ALTERNATIVE ICONS

  1. It’s always interesting to discover the long arm of cinema and how it reaches the average joe or not so average joe’s daily life….start your engines.

    (of course it goes beyond that, ie clothes and that is why i get pissed off everytime a government decides to cut funding to the arts, declaring it irrelevant to our daily lives…pfff!)

    1. You’re right – it’s bigger than just moving pictures. I hope the next generations haven’t had their accidental exposure to odd films stunted by less risk-taking on behalf of broadcasters and distributors.