A $20 Million Cinematic Landmark to Slapstick

When Steven Spielberg’s 1941 opened in December 1979, it was mostly savaged by the critics though a few rose to its defense like Pauline Kael who wrote, “…the film overall is an amazing, orgiastic comedy, with the pop culture of an era compacted into a day and a night. There are such surprising slapstick payoffs that the film’s commercial failure in this country didn’t make much sense.” When I caught up with 1941 in a repertory screening in 1982, I had to concur with Kael that Spielberg’s comic epic was unfairly maligned and great fun if you just go with the chaotic flow of it.   Continue reading

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A Train Wreck Called Poor Pretty Eddie

Poor Pretty EddieSometimes a movie goes so horribly wrong in so many ways that it ends up working on an entirely different level in spite of itself. Such is the case with Poor Pretty Eddie (1975), which is also known as Black Vengeance, Heartbreak Motel and Redneck County Rape, clear indications that this is a movie with a confusing production and distribution history. A sleazy exploitation thriller with artistic pretensions, the film manages to be offensive, crude and inept in equal measure while still succeeding as a compulsive viewing experience for connoisseurs of fringe cinema who think they’ve seen everything.   Continue reading