PURE PLEASURE

It pays to be a virtual explorer sometimes as one can alight upon sites which are pure pleasure to peruse. Somehow this morning when in work avoidance mode, I landed on an Expats Taiwanese Blog HERE. Thanks man.

Aside from seeing myself in the blog roll, I discovered a virtual corncupia of other interesting sites, and this ONE in particular Film Studies for Free tended by an academic (?) Catherine Grant. Then I hit pure gold, that being her sections on Japanese Movies and Road Movies. Just so much quality, referenced reading provided.

Since I’ve already tried my hand at a Japanese film review to deadening silence HERE, hopefully some words about the classical road genre will get me beyond the wall of reader indifference.

Point One. The road genre is not inclusive to movies. Beginning with a great read. James Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss conforms to the road movies genre in all its essentials, plus having an introduction to die for.

“When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart out of a fine spring afternoon… “

This was then followed by a bar brawl with a couple of redneck shade tree mechanics, a point to which I shall return.

I had the pleasure of running up a massive phone bill talking to Mr Crumley in the early eighties, and regret to this day that I didn’t follow through with his request, that being to send him half-dozen novels by Arthur Upfield in his Boney series. Crumley had a particularly high regard for Upfield’s Boney the Aboriginal police investigator. You can read a questionable wiki treatment of Crumley HERE and an good account of Upfield HERE.

The first American road movie ever was unquestionably Detour by Edgar G Ulymer in 1945. And did it explode into existence. Filmed in a couple of weeks on a shoestring budget by Czeck expat director Ulymer. Female lead Ann Savage set the standard in terms of pure evil female tarantula, while Tom Neal, playing Al Roberts the hapless low rent nightclub pianist hitching the US from NY to LA, was in fact a vicious scumbag in real life. He shot his third wife dead with a bullet in the back of the head. And Neals son appeared in the 1992 remake of Detour. There your go! Thumbing a lift on the great highway guarantees a whole mess of trouble. Neal link HERE and a good review of Detour HERE.

To be continued….Road Movies

The 1970s were a watershed in American cinema with great revisionist westerns – The Shooting and Ride the Whirlwind – by Monte Hellman, and that monster Easyrider which was really a western with Harleys and acid instead of horses and bad whisky. While Vanishing Point HERE has its share of devotees, and offers a amphetimined sociological view of the main themes characterising ’70s counterculture, I have a decided preference for Monte Hellman’s Two Lane Blacktop and its main protagonists.

1955 Chevy; 468 cubic inches; twin Holley mechanical carbs.

The Driver, The Mechanic @ The Girl

A very nattily attired Warren Oates

[So much muscle car worship in the 21st century, I probably need counselling.]

Now if you want a conventional review go to this LINK. I want to concentrate on the introductory scene as our protagonists (who really could double for cyborgs) drive to an illegal street race meeting held in Nowheresville in the good old US of A.

They count their collective cash, pay an entry fee, park their motor and open the hood for an inspection by the rubes and local rev head wannabes. “468, Holleys, Hurst shifter, blah, blah, and we are open to offers”.

Is this competing manhood measured in terms of engine displacement and speed over a quarter mile? Not even close. Your post feminist sensibilities are blinding you, friends.

Welcome to the great American tradition of the hustler: “Someone who conceals their skill level to fleece money from players they “gamble” with, although they are relying on disguised skill rather than a strict gamble or chance match”.

Fast Eddy Felson in The Hustler and its update The Colour of Money epitomised this tradition, while the highly underrated movie Rounders worked thru this theme at the card table. I Spy the sixties TV show with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby dealt with tennis hustlers who also indulged in a spot of espionage.

As much as I despise golf, it is a sport with more than its share of hustlers, and it you don’t read any link on this page, read THIS one on Titanic Thompson and THIS.

And what are the origins of this tradition of separating suckers from their cash? It is the Medicine Show or Carny Culture of rural pre-modern America, something to which I shall return in the near future.

Too rational to be hustled. This guy doesn’t think so.

Now, if our Small Town USA street racer had out hustled our grungy pair of blow-ins to the local race meet, he would also have encountered this delight, but it was not to be.

Race Queen - multicultural version

To be continued….

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12 Responses to “PURE PLEASURE”

  1. bucketoftongues Says:

    I saw Easyrider more as a meditation on freedom, that recurring obsession of American culture. But that could be a theme of Westerns – I haven’t seen so many of them.

  2. kingtubby1 Says:

    Unfortunately, there is a big down side for freedom explorers. Easy rider was an existential western with awesome wide screen photography by Lazlo Kovacs. I agree with your basic point.

  3. justrecently Says:

    Not sure what your post is really about, KT, but here are two more for your theme collection:
    Night Train by Bert Kaempfert (apparently no video available online, and
    Night Train by Guns n’Roses.

    Enjoy!

  4. NiubiCowboy Says:

    I’d recommend Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo, if you haven’t seen it. Like his other films, it’s quite a trip to watch.

    Also, I’ve always loved thinking of the television series Route 66 as the road movie that was four years long.

  5. kingtubby1 Says:

    Ah JR. It is all about self-indulgence since Sino-watching is boring the pants off me at present. Somehow, I always feel guilty when I write about film and music, but hey I really enjoy it and the links provided are worth a read.

    Now to the serious point. If you skip to the trains narrative, you will note that my other reader also offered a ditty by Guns ‘ n’Roses, and you will further note that he was sorted out in no uncertain terms.

    This site may be lacking an identifiable mission statement as you correctly pointed out, BUT IT HAS SERIOUS MUSICAL STANDARDS.

    Memo: Prepare list of proscribed bands never to be mentioned on this site.

    JR. You have a commenting policy front and centre on your site.
    I have a band policy and I’m equally serious about it.

  6. kingtubby1 Says:

    @NiubiCowboy. Great memory jog. We saw it when it was first released in the local flea pit theatre, and in a sufficiently elevated frame of mind. Music by the James Gang??????

    I love the mythology of the great highway, call it Route 66 or whatever, but not the serial killer stuff which has invaded the genre in recent decades.

    Sympatico comment: I will enjoy finishing this piece

  7. justrecently Says:

    JR. You have a commenting policy front and centre on your site.
    I have a band policy and I’m equally serious about it.

    Pha. Having no idea about your cultural guidelines, I might get banned for unawareness of them. Anyway, here’s another one: Chattanooga Choo Choo.

  8. kingtubby1 Says:

    Like the CCP, I like to keep my musical guidelines pretty vague JR .

    Such an approach has its advantages, when one is catching a bit of flak in the comments section.

    I will also jail the lawyers of commenters who introduce musical disharmony.

  9. justrecently Says:

    Man, you can’t even censor my blog, and you think you can jail me? Good lucky.
    However, I acknowledge that I should have posted my train comments under your previous post. Pushed the wrong button.

  10. kingtubby1 Says:

    “I will also jail the lawyers of commenters who introduce musical disharmony.”

    Irony about the situation in Wenzhou.

    The whole thing was dripping with China directed irony.

    I give up.

  11. Froog Says:

    Is there a British road movie? I struggle to think of one.

    Withnail and I, sort of. And the Michael Frayn farce Clockwise.

    Ah, and Genevieve, of course.

    But nothing very recent. There’s an opportunity here, I think.

  12. Froog Says:

    I recommend the book Big Deal, an account by Brit writer Anthony Holden of his spending a year on the pro poker circuit. There are many great anecdotes in that about the psychology of hustling, including those classic tales about Ty Thompson.

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