Archive for David Carradine

Riding the Rails

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2014 by dcairns

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I was amused by this in-joke in Hal Ashby’s BOUND FOR GLORY. Charles Mulvehill is the film’s associate producer (“An associate producer is anyone who will associate with a producer,” – Billy Wilder) and production manager. The churchman who has acquired his name is explaining to hobo Woody Guthrie (David Carradine) why he isn’t about to corrupt him by giving him a free meal out of charity. It might stave off malnutrition, true, but what would it do to his self-respect.

The horrible, smug priest isn’t the only ersatz Mulvehill. The big detective who pins Jack Nicholson down while Roman Polanski performs impromptu rhinoplasty on him is called Claude Mulvihill. Screenwriter Robert Towne knew CM from their collaboration on THE LAST DETAIL.

One has to wonder what it is about Mr. Mulvehill that inspires such backhanded tributes? I think the jibes are probably intended with affection, and anyhow we can say that CM got his own back for the character assassination by feeding info to Peter Biskind for his big gossip book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (or Hollywood Babylon Revisited, as I call it).

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BOUND FOR GLORY is quite a piece of work — if Biskind’s book had a positive effect, it was in spearheading a reappraisal of Ashby, and yet his biggest production still seems like the most neglected of his seventies films. It has epic cinematography by Haskell Wexler, with special effects by Albert Whitlock: new wave photography yoked to an epic theme, matte painted landscapes and Melinda Dillon all make this a kind of prequel to CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.

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And that’s a very endearing performance from David Carradine, who otherwise rather wasted his career doing trash — even after KILL BILL he plunged straight back into barrel-scrapers for the remainder of his days. Maybe because Tarantino didn’t actually give him any good writing on that one — his stuff felt lazy, derivative and wanky to me — but part of me suspects that Carradine actually liked doing filler, maybe because the expectations were lower? He’s wonderful here, anyhow.

 

The Carradine Face

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on May 23, 2012 by dcairns

The many magical expressions of John Carradine, the man with the India-rubber kisser. Taken from LA SIGNORA MUERTE, a low-grade Mexican mad scientist movie in which old Long John is by turns ludicrous, wonderful, terrible, repellant and kind of pitiable. He deserved better, and so do we.

“Never do anything you wouldn’t be caught dead doing,” was Carradine’s advice to his acting offspring, and one wishes that (a) he’d set his standards a little higher and (b) son David had paid better attention. Still, I like this cramped, busy, upsettingly strange composition ~

Uh, what’s the subject of this shot? The chandelier?

LA SIGNORA MUERTE shoehorns a bunch of horror cliches together without any regard for sense. Screenwriter Ramón Obón Jnr is an old hand at Mexican horror, and his father,  also called Ramón Obón, penned the genuinely inventive and atmospheric EL GRITO DE LA MUERTE (THE LIVING COFFIN) some ten years earlier.

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