Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Movie: The Big Gundown (1967)

As part of its tribute to Italian westerns, IFC aired this Sergio Sollima film regarded as one of the finest non-Sergio Leone examples of the form. I’m not about to disagree. It’s a terrific, tough-minded movie with Lee Van Cleef as a quasi-lawman who agrees to track an accused rapist and murderer into Mexico in order to jumpstart his Senate campaign.

IFC’s SPAGHETTI WEST documentary cites GUNDOWN as one of the political films that changed the genre. Van Cleef is essentially a tool for moneyed interests while his quarry Cuchillo, played by Tomas Milian in several movies, is a savvy peasant.

Maybe I’m getting more conservative in my dotage – or maybe it’s because Van Cleef was ridiculously magnetic onscreen – but I couldn’t root against the man. I figure if Dennis Hopper, the man behind EASY RIDER, can go Republican and vote for George W. Bush twice, then I can pull for Van Cleef to get the job done.

R.I.P. Don Adams

The actor passed away on Sunday at the age of 82. Like any kid with a warped sense of humor and a taste for James Bond, I devoured GET SMART. Here’s hoping the forthcoming DVD release of the series brings its pleasures to a new audience.

Let’s not overlook the actor’s contributions to animation. That’s right, Chumley, I’m talking Tennessee Tuxedo. INSPECTOR GADGET was my kid brother’s after-school cartoon of choice, and Adams’ pinpoint timing made the show fun for older siblings.

My fondest memory of the actor is the syndicated audience participation series DON ADAMS’ SCREEN TEST. Each week wannabe actors would recreate famous movie scenes with the help of celebrity guest stars like Milton Berle and Mel Brooks. It was a silly, cheesy TV show, and I loved every minute of it.

Miscellaneous: Links

The Los Angeles Times recounts how politics have affected what sounds like a fascinating project from Albert Brooks.

Josh Friedman weighs in on the psychological factors that determine the makeup of a screenwriter:

In short, writers whose parents ignored them so they became class clowns like to pitch first and write second. On the other hand, writers whose parents ignored them so they became awkward little geeks who stayed in their room and read Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators like to write first and pitch never.

Writers who were both class clowns and awkward little geeks like to create blogs.

In the words of Troy McClure: My God, it’s like you’ve known me all my life!