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July 28, 2015


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John Merrill

Nice piece. I had no idea Peter Berg was the actor from Seduction. Thanks.


"After all, despite the fact that much of his genre oeuvre is peppered with references that could be taken as homophobic ..."

Well, there was the gay assassin Miles Mellow (Jack Cassidy), and his dog named Faggot, in THE EIGER SANCTION. As I recall, in one scene Clint tells Miles he has an "incurable disease" but doesn't have the guts to kill himself. No idea if that was in the novel, which I've never read.

But I think Eastwood has modified his views since 1975, as J. EDGAR made clear.

I recently watched DRESSED TO KILL and wondered if you could do a horror movie today with a transvestite killer who wants a sex change operation. There were protests about the movie in 1980; today, I don't know if a studio would green-light it.


Well, at least you're referring to Eastwood's auteur status as "semi-certified".

Maybe some future Bazin or Sarris will be able to illustrate the artistic merit and personal vision of The Rookie, Absolute Power, True Crime, Blood Work, Space Cowboys, Invictus, etc.

Michael Adams

Reflection of Fear is notable as the second of three features directed by William Faker, whose directorial career, after a promising start with Monte Walsh, failed to match his work as cinematography. Because of my admiration of MW and Faker's DP work, I tried to watch Reflection on TV once but found it tedious, despite the interesting cast.

Touch-and-go Bullethead

Miles Mellough and his dog are straight (if that is the word we want) out of Trevanian's best-selling novel. I suppose that Eastwood had the clout to alter or remove them if he had so wished, but I would not really blame him for them.

Touch-and-go Bullethead

For what it is worth, I note that the character was, in a sort of way, approved by Gore Vidal. In his review of the novel (which he calls "of its too numerous kind pretty good"), he wrote "Mr. Trevanian has recourse to that staple of recent fiction the Fag Villain. Since (ethnic slurs redacted) can no longer be shown as bad people, only commies (pre-Nixon) and fags are certain to arouse the loathing of all decent fiction addicts. I will say for Mr. Trevanian that his Fag Villain is pretty funny..."

I do not really have any point save, I suppose, this looked different at the time.


At the time, the ludicrous gay stuff in EIGER SANCTION was regarded as humor, at least by teenagers like me.

"Trevanian" was really Rod Whitaker (1931-2005), who was one of three people credited with the movie's screenplay. Another was Warren Murphy, who wrote the Remo Williams: Destroyer action novels with Richard Sapir.


Wait--there was more than one Remo Williams movie?


One movie, but more than 100 novels.



My jaw dropped at how many books there've been.

"I recently watched DRESSED TO KILL and wondered if you could do a horror movie today with a transvestite killer who wants a sex change operation..."

The 1974 Blaxploitation 'Together Brothers', recently released on MOD-DVD, is so transphobic it makes 'Dressed to Kill' look like 'Tangerine'. A pity, really, because the DVD has a strong, suitably gritty image which does full justice to the film's nocturnal-industrial climax, so drenched in sweat and bokeh that it seems to anticipate Michael Mann.

Brian Dauth

As a queer spectator, I enjoy Eastwood's takes on sex/gender/desire. The fact that his earlier films are so uncommitted to the homophobia of their narratives is actually refreshing in my experience (and also helps explain how he could eventually make J. EDGAR). Admittedly, I am a huge lover of Eastwood's work (I like THE ROOKIE), and he ranks for me with Fassbinder, Cukor and Mankiewicz in my personal pantheon of directors (all queer in their own way).

George: DRESSED TO KILL could not be made today, though the het male anxiety regarding sex/gender/desire is still as prevalent in society as it was then (witness the backlash against Caitlyn Jenner). In one way, it is a loss that filmmakers are discouraged nowadays from making films from positions of anxiety, though admittedly too many got made that had no redeeming formal interest -- they were just anxious.

Brian Dauth


Not only could DRESSED TO KILL not be made today, I doubt BLAZING SADDLES or MASH could be made today. At least not without major revisions. After today's politically correct young film tweeters got through with them, Brooks would be branded a racist, and Altman a pig who hates women.

Brian Dauth

Considering all of the misogynistic and racist elements that turn up in movies in 2015, I am not sure that these films could not be made. What is different is that today there are spectators who will call out a film's misogyny and racism in ways that rarely happened in the past.

I do not understand this as a matter of political correctness, but rather as film viewers who closely examine the political/social aspects of a film's content.


fiorentino good actres.


So, Brian, you think Mel Brooks is a racist and Robert Altman a misogynist?


Depicting racism and sexism (and satirizing them) is not the same as endorsing them. But a lot of people today -- especially the politically correct young film tweeters -- don't seem to understand that. Maybe someday they'll grow up and learn about things like nuance and ambiguity.

Touch-and-go Bullethead

I will repeat the truism: When someone uses the phrase "politically correct," and means it seriously, he is saying nothing more than "There is absolutely no reason for you to take seriously anything I have to say."

Touch-and-go Bullethead

However, please do give your thoughts on the War on Christmas.

Brian Dauth

George: I have no idea if Mel Brooks is a racist or if Robert Altman is a misogynist. I was not writing about them, but rather their work.

Is Mel Brooks' work racist? I do not think so, but my husband who is African-American finds portions of BLAZING SADDLES racist, so at least in our household it is a split decision. As for Altman's work, I think it does cross over into misogyny on occasion.

I agree that depicting sexism and racism is not automatically an endorsement of them, and may be part of a satirical project. But the success of these attempts in part depends on how they are received by a spectator, and social positionalities change over time: what may have been satirical at an earlier moment in time is not longer received that way later on. It does take an ability to deal with nuance and ambiguity to deploy an aesthetic that mixes close reading with reader response techniques, thus avoiding the dangers of the intentional fallacy.


BLAZING SADDLES is a parody of racism, not a racist movie. One of its writers was Richard Pryor. Please don't say "Who's Richard Pryor?"

Here's an interesting Atlantic article: "College kids today can't seem to take a joke." Explains why comedians like Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld no longer perform at America's ultra-sensitive college campuses.



Also from the Atlantic: "The Coddling of the American Mind."

In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding to be protected from words and ideas they don't like. I'm glad "The Great Gatsby" didn't require a trigger warning when I was in college.

Great quote: "I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me."


Chris L.

"Please don't say 'Who's Richard Pryor?'"

I'll just go ahead and surmise that the commenter you're addressing is more than adequately conversant with the man's work, and with much else in our culture, to an extent that the rest of us might do well to absorb and ponder rather than lob would-be condescension his way. All of which is to say, I've appreciated Mr. Dauth's perspective on this blog through the years, and I don't think he has written anything with the aim of being "PC" (whatever usefulness the term still has, and I'll agree with Bullethead that it ain't much).

No doubt there are worthwhile discussions to be had about offensive speech, satire, decency, and where each of us draws lines between them; just not sure whether "get off my lawn, you damned over-sensitive coddled kids" is the best starting point for the "nuance and ambiguity" you prescribe in a prior comment.


Chris L: It's obvious that you have no interest in having a discussion of any kind, and prefer to stereotype other people's comments. You're more into being pompous and long-winded.

If you don't think there are plenty of "over-sensitive coddled kids," several hundred college professors would give you an argument. As would Chris Rock, Bill Maher and Jerry Seinfeld.

Chris L.

As to who is long-winded or taking up more of people's time on here, well, the "recent comments" sidebar is almost always at least half comprised of yours. I hadn't written anything in months. And if I simplified your remarks, what exactly were you doing to Brian Dauth throughout this thread? (Not that he needs my defense, but the Richard Pryor thing was just a smidgen too much to stomach.)

No intent to start a war, though. Some kids are sensitive to language. Others are not. Fine.


Wow, only takes you 15 minutes to respond, Chris L.!

It's not the fault of college kids that so many are over-sensitive and coddled. I blame their Baby Boomer parents, a.k.a. "helicopter parents," who shielded them from unpleasant realities to a ridiculous extreme.

I don't want to start a war, either. Let's move on to other topics.

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