Holdenville, Oklahoma native Clu Gulager was an extremely busy and prolific actor (over 160 TV and movie credits) who worked right up to his death at 93 in August 2022. Even if he never quite graduated to the A list of Hollywood actors, he will always be remembered for starring roles in two iconic TV westerns, The Tall Man (1960-62), as Billy the Kid, and The Virginian (1963-68) as Sheriff Emmett Ryker as well as several cult movies. Among them are his feature film debut opposite Lee Marvin as a pair of sociopathic hit men in the 1964 remake of The Killers, directed by Don Siegel, The Return of the Living Dead (1985), Dan O’Bannon’s macabre zombie comedy, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985). Other notable roles include memorable parts in the Paul Newman racetrack drama Winning (1969), Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show (1971) and McQ (1974), a John Wayne cop thriller, but if American audiences had been given an opportunity to see him in the 1974 Swedish film Gangsterfilmen (U.S. title: Gangster Film aka A Stranger Came by Train), they would surely rank it right up there with his intimidating but off-the-wall performance in The Killers, which should have made him a major star.
Tag Archives: Swedish cinema
Music Can Change Your Life
Group dynamics are always a fascinating topic for stories, especially when the focus is the workplace or some social situation. Consider this scenario, for instance, involving a small traveling band that specializes in Dixieland-style dance numbers and popular big band favorites. When a new musician joins their group with innovative musical ideas and the talent to execute them, not everyone is going to be immediately smitten. Such is the case with Sven Klang’s Combo (aka Sven Klangs Kvintett, 1976), a Swedish film by Stellan Olsson, which follows a fateful year in the life of a provincial quintet. They lose a member but gain a hip, new saxophone player from the big city who is heavily influenced by the bebop sounds of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and others. The result is a bittersweet but often amusing look at how some bands either make the decision to go professional (if they are good enough) or content themselves playing for fun the rest of their lives.Continue reading
Witchcraft Through the Ages
How to best describe the 1922 Swedish film Haxan (also known as Witchcraft Through the Ages) by Danish director Benjamin Christensen? While not a conventional documentary by anyone’s standards, it is not a traditional narrative film either and straddles several genres in its exploration of witchcraft and the black arts from the Dark Ages up to 1921.Continue reading
Off the Grid
A master of 20th century cinema, the Swedish director and actor Victor Sjöström is best remembered for his moving performance as the elderly physician reflecting on his life in Wild Strawberries (1957). As a director, his highly acclaimed 1921 adaptation of Selma Lagerlöf’s novel The Phantom Carriage convinced MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer to bring him to America where Sjöström directed the prestigious projects He Who Gets Slapped (1924), with Lon Chaney, and two starring Lillian Gish, The Scarlet Letter (1926) and The Wind (1928), arguably the pinnacle of his Hollywood tenure. While The Outlaw and His Wife (1918) is not as well known, it is considered by many film historians to be Sjöström’s silent-era masterpiece and, nearly a century after its release, is enjoying a revival that should elevate its stature in the director’s pantheon.
A Time for Demonic Visitations
“According to the ancient Romans, the Hour of the Wolf means the time between night and dawn, just before the light comes, and people believed it to be the time when demons had a heightened power and vitality, the hour when most people died and most children were born, and when nightmares came to one.”
Setting the stage for what will follow with this ominous introduction, Ingmar Bergman’s 1968 feature Hour of the Wolf (Swedish title: Vargtimmen) is probably the closest the director has ever come to making a horror film, one that crosses over into the realm of the supernatural. Continue reading