|May 16 2023
Don't lose hope. If we survive this we'll probably both get a chance to act in better movies.
This poster was made for the horror movie The Terror, and we're showing you the Japanese promo art because—as is often the case—it's nicer than the U.S. promo. Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson star, actors passing in the night, Karloff aged seventy-six and on the downward slope of a legendary film career, Nicholson aged twenty-six on the upslope. The latter plays a French army lieutenant named Andre Duvalier who becomes stranded circa 1806 in ye olde creepy-ass castle on the hill, which is occupied by Karloff's rickety Baron Victor von Leppe. Jack sees a mysterious woman wandering around. Karloff explains that she's the ghost of his wife, the Baronness Ilsa von Leppe, who died twenty years ago. Nosy Nicholson doesn't believe that for a millisecond, but the Baron sticks to his story, even admitting he killed the Baronness with his bare hands for the crime of adultery. Nice confession, but the Baron is lying or being duped, as far as Nicholson is concerned. In either case, the question is why?
Director Roger Corman was working from an Edgar Allen Poe template here, and in fact he shot on castle sets originally used for The Raven, which had wrapped earlier in the year. It's always good to save a buck where you can, but any advantage was lost due to Corman working from an unfinished script, which led to reshoots by Francis Ford Coppola, Dennis Jakob, Monte Hellman, and Jack Hill. All that talent wasn't enough to put together a film befitting Nicholson and Karloff, but the two leads do their damndest, and the result, though not good, isn't an embarrassment. Afterward, Karloff continued coasting into the twilight, Nicholson and Coppola moved on to widespread acclaim, Hill helped launch the blaxploitation cycle and make a star of Pam Grier, and Hellman directed the cult masterpiece Two-Lane Blacktop. It's a miracle they all contributed something lasting to cinema, because you'd never suspect it watching The Terror. It premiered in the U.S. in 1963 and reached Japan today in 1964.
JapanThe TerrorThe RavenTwo-Lane BlacktopRoger CormanRoger CormanFrancis Ford CoppolaDennis JakobMonte HellmanJack HillBoris KarloffJack NicholsonSandra KnightDick Millerposter artcinemahorrormovie review
|Oct 28 2015
The thing is you got to keep moving.
Esquire magazine called Two-Lane Blacktop the movie of the year and devoted a cover to it, and many other critics also lent their applause. It was directed by Monte Hellman and stars James Taylor, Dennis Wilson, Warren Oates, and nineteen-year-old Laurie Bird in a story of two hot-rodders who bet their cars on the result of a head-to-head cross country race. A similar movie had hit American cinemas months earlier in the form of Richard C. Sarafian’s Vanishing Point, but Two-Lane Blacktop not only has the usual feeling of road movie nostalgia due to its celebration of a peculiarly fragile type of freedom, but because it features an actress, also peculiarly fragile, who later committed suicide. Her role—all twenty or so lines of it—is iconic, even eternal, in our opinion. She’s the only one in the film who is completely free.
While most of the acting is slightly flat, as might be expected with two pop stars and a novice in three of the four main roles, these are not people who are supposed to be showing extravagant emotion. They’re nomadic, their attachments transitory, their stories made of small moments dwarfed by a big, desolate American landscape where only the cars are truly real. Detractors say nothing happens in the film, but that isn’t true—it’s just as plotted and dramatic as Shakespeare if you listen through the roar of engines and peer through the smoke. It's one of our favorite movies, and to quote Warren Oates, "Those satisfactions are permanent." Two-Lane Blacktop premiered in the U.S. during the summer of 1971, and raced into Japan beginning today in 1972.
JapanEsquireTwo-Lane BlacktopMonte HellmanJames TaylorDennis WilsonWarren OatesLaurie Birdposter artcinema