Like many of you I'm sure, I am a big big Walter Hill fan. I'm no more at home than with a crowd at Cinespia, clinking bottles along with David Patrick Kelly at the end of THE WARRIORS. I love many of his films. From the parking structure auditions of THE DRIVER, to the swamps of Louisiana to those glorious STREETS OF FIRE he really knows how to make a good movie. DELIVERANCE is a great film, but I've come to prefer SOUTHERN COMFORT myself. Sadly, that DVD is out of print here in the states. Very few of Hill's movies (only JOHNNY HANDSOME, RED HEAT, THE WARRIORS & BROKEN TRAIL) have made it to Blu-Ray. STREETS OF FIRE(Hill's inimitable rockabilly/sci-fi opus) was lucky enough to get an HDDVD release(which I own and which looks pretty good), but as for the others it's no dice. We really need a whole more Charles Bronson on Blu-Ray as well. HARD TIMES would be a solid entry to have for sure, and there are so many more Bronson films that need to come out that way. Not the least of which are THE MECHANIC and ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. I'm one of those people who really wants to see his films like DEATH WISH 3, MR. MAJESTYK, 10 TO MIDNIGHT, TELEFON, THE STONE KILLER &VIOLENT CITY come out in high-definition too. Why the heck is THE GREAT ESCAPE not out on Blu-Ray yet(MGM perhaps)? That should totally have shown up by now. It's just silly.
Spurred on by a question I got, this list came to me fairly quickly. Hopefully, I haven't been too liberal with my interpretation of the genre. Please feel free to offer up your own favorites! Oh, and watch CALIFORNIA SPLIT right now on Netflix Instant if you haven't seen it! Fantastic film!
1. CALIFORNIA SPLIT(1974; Robert Altman) 2. MIDNIGHT RUN(1988; Martin Brest) 3. GOING IN STYLE(1979; Martin Brest) 4. THE FISHER KING(1991; Terry Gilliam) 5. THUNDERBOLT & LIGHTFOOT(1974; Michael Cimino) 6. SMOKEY & THE BANDIT(1977; Hal Needham) 7. BOTTLE ROCKET(1996; Wes Anderson) 8. FREEBIE AND THE BEAN(1974; Richard Rush) 9. RUBIN AND ED(1991; Trent Harris) 10. LETHAL WEAPON(1987; Richard Donner) 11. SAFE MEN(1998; John Hamburg) 12. RUNNING SCARED(1986; Peter Hyams) 13. DOWN BY LAW(1986; Jim Jarmusch) 14. WITHNAIL & I(1987; Bruce Robinson) 15. BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE(1989; Stephen Herek) 16. THE BLUES BROTHERS(1980; John Landis) 17. HOT FUZZ(2007; Edgar Wright) 18. ROAD TO RIO(1947; Norman Z. McLeod) 19. 48 HOURS(1982; Walter Hill) 20. ISHTAR(1987; Elaine May) 21. HOLLYWOOD OR BUST(1956; Frank Tashlin) 22. THE WILD LIFE(1984; Art Linson) 23. ALIEN NATION(1988; Graham Baker)
No, not the Huey Lewis album(though that is a favorite of mine too). This relates to two very inspiring sports-movie related viewings this year. The first was seeing VISION QUEST for the 1st time in probably twenty years. I didn't have much memory of it and completely expected some throw-away 80s cheese. What I got was an insightful, moving and wonderful film with a not-surprisingly fantastic performance from the great Matthew Modine. I never ever thought I'd be so engaged by a story about high school wrestling. What a remarkable little film. Terrible presentation though. VISION QUEST was released as one of those snapper cased Warner Brothers DVDs in a pathetic full-frame transfer that is none too impressive. I understand that it is not the juggernaut catalog title that Warners might be willing to invest some time and effort into, but it truly deserves better than this. It deserves a Blu-Ray. It really does.
The second sports-related inspiring view I had this year was taking my wife to see BREAKING AWAY(one of my favorite sports films of all time) at special revival screening at the American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. What a screening this was. I have seen the film many times and grown to love it more and more with each, but this was just amazing. To feel a crowd react to this 31 year old film was just so exhilarating. Especially for the final scene. What an emotionally satisfying ride(pun intended). The film really proved just how much of a classic it is in this context. So many great performances contained therein. Not the least of which was from the mighty Paul Dooley who appeared in person and did a Q&A afterward. Just a phenomenal screening over all. All that being said, the current FOX DVD release of the film is fine, but I would love to see Criterion pick this film up for Blu-Ray release. Not only would I love to see a nice high-definition transfer, but to have some extras would just be a dream come true for me.
I'd like to mention one more of my sports favorites here and that's John Huston's marvelous film FAT CITY. A better movie about boxing I cannot think of(sorry ROCKY). I'll not go too much into this one as I'd rather urge you take the time and go check it out on Netflix Watch Instantly while it's still available there. The DVD is now out-of-print and it seems doubtful there will be a re-release, though this film too would make an exquisite Criterion Blu-Ray. And what with Criterion's history of putting out some of John Huston other later films,(WISE BLOOD, UNDER THE VOLCANO) it seems a distant possibility at least(though both those films come from Universal whereas FAT CITY is Columbia). In an interview I did with Jeremy Smith(Mr. Beaks from Ain't It Cool) earlier this year, he mentioned a new print that had played at New York's Film Forum this past year. He had hear no plans of a Blu-Ray though. One can only hope I suppose.
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