Download The B List: The National Society of Film Critics on the Low-Budget Beauties, Genre-Bending Mavericks, and Cult Classics We Love PDF

TitleThe B List: The National Society of Film Critics on the Low-Budget Beauties, Genre-Bending Mavericks, and Cult Classics We Love
PublisherDa Capo Press
ISBN 139780306815669
CategoryArts - Film
LanguageEnglish
File Size1.1 MB
Total Pages257
Table of Contents
                            Contents
INTRODUCTION xi
PART 1: OUT OF THE SHADOWS—FILM NOIR 1
DETOUR (1945) 3
GUN CRAZY (1950) 7
OUT OF THE PAST (1947) 11
PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET (1953) 14
KISS ME DEADLY (1955) 17
CRIME WAVE (1954) 19
MURDER BY CONTRACT (1958) 22
THE WELL (1951) 26
PART 2: NIGHTMARES IN TECHNICOLOR—NEO-NOIR 29
RESERVOIR DOGS (1992) 31
THE LAST SEDUCTION (1994) 35
ONE FALSE MOVE (1992) 38
POINT BLANK (1967) 41
TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. (1985) 45
CROUPIER (1998) 49
PART 3: FROM GRINDHOUSE TO ART HOUSE—MADNESS AND MELODRAMA 51
GRINDHOUSE (2007) 53
PEEPING TOM (1960) 59
THE CONVERSATION (1974) 63
THE STEPFATHER (1987) 67
PRETTY POISON (1968) 70
PART 4: THE ALLURE OF THE UNKNOWN—SCIENCE FICTIONS 73
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956) 75
THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET (1984) 77
PRIMER (2004) 79
RED PLANET MARS (1952) 83
THE SPACE CHILDREN (1958) 87
PART 5: DARK AND DISTURBING DREAMS—FILMS OF HORROR AND TERROR 91
TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972) 93
THE FLY (1958) 95
THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 (1999) 99
THE SON OF KONG (1933) 103
I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943) 107
MAY (2002) 110
PART 6: BURNING UP THE BLACKTOP—ROAD MOVIES 113
STRANGER THAN PARADISE (1984) 115
TWO-LANE BLACKTOP (1971) 119
VANISHING POINT (1971) 122
THE BIG BUS (1976) 125
PART 7: GUNFIGHTER NATION—THE WILD WESTERN 127
THE NAKED SPUR AND MAN OF THE WEST (1953, 1958) 129
WILL PENNY (1968) 134
SEVEN MEN FROM NOW (1956) 137
FORTY GUNS (1957) 140
PART 8: UP AGAINST THE WALL!—POLITICAL PICTURES 143
PLATOON (1986) 145
SALVADOR (1986) 148
THE PRESIDENT’S ANALYST (1967) 153
MAN ON A STRING (1960) 156
HEROES FOR SALE (1933) 159
PART 9: WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN’—ROCK, POP, AND BEYOND 163
THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY (1978) 165
KING CREOLE (1958) 168
AMERICAN HOT WAX (1978) 171
THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT (1956) 175
GREENDALE (2003) 177
PART 10: PROVOCATION AND PERVERSITY—CULT CLASSICS 181
VIDEODROME (1983) 183
VAMPIRE’S KISS (1989) 186
THE CORE (2003) 189
BEAT THE DEVIL (1953) 192
MONA (1970) 196
PART 11: TRANSGRESSIVE CHIC—THE WORLD OF MIDNIGHT MOVIES 199
PINK FLAMINGOS (1972) 201
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975) 203
TARGETS (1968) 205
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) 210
ERASERHEAD (1977) 212
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS 217
PERMISSIONS 225
INDEX 229
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 1

THE NATIONAL SOCIETY OF FILM CRITICS ON
THE LOW-BUDGET BEAUTIES, GENRE-BENDING
MAVERICKS, AND CULT CLASSICS WE LOVEEDITED BY DAVID STERRITT & JOHN ANDERSON

THE NATIONAL SOCIETY OF FILM
CRITICS ON

THE LOW
-BUDGET BEAUTIES, GENRE-BENDING

M
AVERICKS, AND CULT CLASSICS W

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FILM

A Da Capo Original
Cover design by Georgia A. Feldman
Cover photograph by J. R. Eyerman/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

$15.95 / £9.99 / $17.00 CAN

Da Capo Press
A Member of the Perseus Books Group
www.dacapopress.com

W
hat kind of collection could

possibly fi nd common

ground among The Son of

Kong, Platoon, and Pink

Flamingos? What kind of fevered minds

could conceive of such a list? What are

the unheard-of qualities that tie them

all together?

The answers: This book. The

National Society of Film Critics. And

the far-reaching enticements of the B

movie itself.

Once, the B movie was the Holly-

wood stepchild, the underbelly of the

double feature. Today it is a more inclu-

sive category, embracing fi lms that fall

outside the mainstream by dint of their

budgets, their visions, their grit, and

frequently—sometimes essentially—

their lack of what the culture cops call

“good taste.”

Featuring the choicest noir, neo-

noir, science fi ction, horror, western,

midnight movies, and more—from

critics like David Ansen, Jami Bernard,

Roger Ebert, Carrie Rickey, Richard

Schickel, and Kenneth Turan—the fi lms

in The B List are offbeat, unpredictable,

and decidedly idiosyncratic. That’s why

we love them.

DAVID STERRITT is chairman of
the National Society of Film

Critics and a fi lm professor at

Columbia University. He lives

near Santa Barbara, California.

JOHN ANDERSON writes regularly
for Variety, the New York Times,

and Newsday. He lives in

Los Angeles.

THE NATIONAL SOCIETY OF FILM
CRITICS is a world-renowned
organization composed of

America’s most distinguished

critics.

A LSO AVA I L ABLE

Page 2

T H E B L I S T

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Page 128

Part SIX: Burning Up the Blacktop

Road Movies

R O A D M O V I E S C O UR S E T H R O U G H T H E H I STO RY O F A M ER I C A N

cinema the way Route 80 cuts across the country itself. The Big Trail was a road
movie in 1930; so was Red River in 1948, albeit of the quasi-homoerotic buddy-
film variety. Arguably, 2001: A Space Odyssey was a road movie, as were Captain
Blood and Fantastic Voyage.

The yearning for forward motion is in our pioneer DNA—the thirst for forg-
ing ahead, blazing trails, violating frontiers, going on the road like Kerouac, cut-
ting ties to place and even time. Its cinematic manifestation, the road movie,
almost always achieves strong dramatic momentum, partly because it taps into
our need to not sit still. (We have to sit still to watch one, of course, but viewing
a road movie inside a moving non-airborne vehicle would be perfect, and is
probably coming soon to an iPhone near you.) That the genre also provides a
wide-ranging array of events, locales, and (especially) characters hasn’t hurt its
popularity, either. Over the history of B pictures it has bestowed on filmmakers a
scope and scale they might not otherwise have found, unless set loose themselves
on the open road with cameras in their knapsacks.

The highway and byway offer freedom, and with freedom sometimes comes
insanity. See The Big Bus, in which James Frawley launches the first nuclear-
powered bus on its maiden voyage from New York to Denver, complete with
chirpy stewardess and anti-fallout gear. Moodier and more cerebral is Two-Lane
Blacktop, the existential epic by B-movie maestro Monte Hellman, who uses
nonactors in key roles ( James Taylor, Dennis Wilson) and turns the road into a
Homeric river of thwarted destiny. Equally fatalistic is Vanishing Point, which did
more for the Dodge Challenger than any ad campaign devised under Detroit’s
fume-laden skies.

113

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Page 129

Stranger Than Paradise also appears in these pages, but isn’t virtually every Jim
Jarmusch film a road movie? Permanent Vacation is a road movie on foot; Mystery
Train rides the freight car of Elvis’s spirit; Night on Earth comes and goes by
taxicab; and Dead Man travels on various primitive vehicles, including the human
consciousness. Year of the Horse doesn’t actually involve horses, but hey, Neil
Young did a lot of traveling.

Where are we going with this? Why does it matter? Getting there is half the
fun, and all of the meaning, when we take the movies on the road.

114 • THE B LIST

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