I've been tagged by Glenn Kenny for the "Twelve Films You Haven't Seen" meme, and I have to admit I wasn't sure how to approach the subject. Some people are choosing hard-to-find titles, while others are confessing easily-filled gaps in their viewing history. As I'm not too keen on embarrassing myself with the latter (cough...cough...The Red Shoes), I thought I'd choose from my list of dying-to-see-but-haven't titles. However, the sheer size of that list is such that choosing a mere dozen would be too arduous a task, so I decided to narrow it down to a sub-category -- unseen films from the 60s and 70s that I'd gladly trade Nastassja Kinski's hairbrush for an opportunity to see.
In no particular order, here are my twelve-most sought after films in that category:
1) Move (Stuart Rosenberg, 1970)
After Cool Hand Luke (1967), Rosenberg made a handful of interesting but flawed films in the 70s, including the Terrence Malick scripted Pocket Money and the almost-perfect WUSA. I've seen all but this one, a very New York comedy about (among other things) a couple trying to move out of one apartment and into another. The film stars two of my favorite 70s staples, Elliott Gould (who plays a porn-writing playwright) and Paula Prentiss. The few reviews I've read have been pretty dire, but the combination of Gould, Prentiss and Manhattan real-estate is too good to pass up.
2) Sweet Smell of Sex (Robert Downey, Sr., 1965)
As a huge fan of Iron Man's dad (a prince), how could I not want to see this ultra-rare entry in his oeuvre, especially with a title that riffs on one of my favorite films of all time? The current Anthology Film Archives retrospective of several of his films reminded me of this odd one; it's the only film of his I know very little about other than that it stars Downey regulars Lawrence Wolf and Tom O'Horgan. I'm guessing it's a sex film. I have a meeting with him tomorrow, so I'll be sure to ask him.
3) Futz! (Tom O'Horgan, 1969)
Speaking of Tom O'Horgan (best known for directing Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway), there's this -- a counterculture musical about the special relationship between a man and his pig. This sexual satire was written by Joseph Stefano (screenwriter, Psycho) and lensed by none other than Vilmos Zsigmond. The cast includes Frederic Forrest and Sally Kirkland, and the fact that it's a musical only strengthens my resolve to see it.
4) You've Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat (Peter Locke, 1971)
Easily the holiest of grails on the list, this is a film I originally heard about back in the early 80s, but only recently confirmed that it does indeed truly exist. Dig this: an anarchic anti-establishment comedy that skewers then-contemporary mores that stars Zalman King (yes, that one) as a young man trying to find his way in New York City. Add to that a cast that includes Allen Garfield, Richard Pryor, and Roz Kelly (Happy Days' Pinky Tuscadero), and features music by Steely Dan's Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. Oh yes, Wes Craven worked on the film as well. I have never met a single soul who can honestly claim to have seen this film, so if you have, please do speak up!
5) Uncle Tom's Fairy Tales (Penelope Spheeris, 1968)
This satire on race relations, in which a white man is on trial for raping a black woman was, until recently, considered lost, and the story behind it is quite convoluted. The film, which stars Richard Pryor, was made while Spheeris was still in film school, and never had an official release. Over the years there have been multiple stories about its disappearance. One has it that Pryor halted production and destroyed the negative. Another version claims it was Pryor's wife who destroyed it, angry that he was paying more attention to it than to her. Regardless, Pryor sued Spheeris (and his daughter Rain) in 2005, claiming that the two of them stole his master copy back in the 80s and never returned it. Pryor initiated the lawsuit after scenes from the film were shown during his Directors Guild of America tribute. Spheeris later admitted she gave the footage to Academy Film Archive, though I'm unaware of the film's current status, or if the lawsuit was ever settled.
6) Alex in Wonderland (Paul Mazursky, 1970)
Years ago, while sitting in a bar in Tokyo discussing Blake Edwards' S.O.B. with some friends, I was lectured by an inexplicably angry drunken cinephile who claimed that Edwards' film couldn't have existed if Mazursky hadn't "already blazed the path with this underappreciated masterpiece." Since that time I've foolishly missed several opportunities to see the film, but refuse to give up the quest. After the success of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Mazursky found himself at a loss for a follow-up, so he basically pulled an 8 1/2 and created this Hollywood spoof about a director unsure of his next project, with Donald Sutherland playing the auteur struggling to cope with his newfound success. Apparently, Fellini appears as himself in a cameo -- all the more reason I want to see it.
7) Get to Know Your Rabbit (Brian De Palma, 1972)
I'm one feature shy of being able to call myself a De Palma completist, and this comedy about a businessman who gives it all up to become a tap-dancing magician is the one. Tom Smothers, Katherine Ross, Orson fricken' Welles, and Allan Garfield in the same movie? It's like a dream come true. I've always loved Dave Kehr's Chicago Reader review, where he refers to it as "A mess, but not intolerable." I'm still kicking myself for missing this at BAM earlier this year.
8) The Sidelong Glances of a Pigeon Kicker (John Dexter, 1970)
Though I've heard that John Dexter's dramedy about a corporate climber who drops out to become a cab driver isn't all that impressive, I've been told that it contains some incredible NYC location photography that truly captures the essence of Manhattan at the turn of the decade (as well as featuring some genuine pigeon kicking.) It's a dream of mine to see every NYC-shot film made between 1970-1980, and this one is high on my want list.
9) Dusty and Sweets McGee (Floyd Mutrux, 1971)
The 70s was unquestionably the decade for movies about addicts, and this quasi-documentary is one of the few I've yet to track down. I've been told it's extremely Altmanesque, and that Nashville owes a great debt to this film. Plus, it has one of the greatest taglines in film history: "Wind it up baby, the Solid Gold Weekend is coming to a close..."
10) Ángeles y Querubines (Angels and Cherubs) (Rafael Corkidi, 1972)
Corkidi was Jodorowsky's cinematographer on both El Topo and The Holy Mountain, and this feature from '72 is said to be similar to the mad director's work. It's a surrealistic take on the Adam and Eve story that also features vampires. Hey, why not? I've seen only one other film by Corkidi, 1977's truly bizarre Pafnuci Santo, but it was enough to convince me of his genius. Corkidi is clearly a great untapped resource.
11) Brand X (Win Chamberlain, 1970)
Another holy grail film, the cast of this comedy by artist Win Chamberlain reads like a who's-who of the NY counterculture: Taylor Mead, Candy Darling, Abbie Hoffman, Ultra Violet, Tally Brown, etc. (Oh, and Sam Shepard is in there too.) A precursor to films like The Kentucky Fried Movie, Brand X is a series of skits that lampoon television shows and commercials. My father actually spoke highly of this film, and for a short time he owned a copy on 16mm. Shame that I never got to see it.
12) Les Oiseaux vont mourir au Pérou (Birds in Peru) (Romain Gary, 1968)
This appears to be one of those so-awful-it-simply-must-be-seen affairs. Romain Gary, then-husband of Jean Seberg, directed her in this psychosexual drama about a nymphomaniac who moves from one tawdry tryst to the next. Some say the film is little more than Gary working through some issues with his wife. (Their marriage ended shortly after the film was completed.) There are two reasons I've been wanting to see this one for years; one is that I happen to love Jean Seberg as an actress, limited as she is (or was), and I've heard that the film's unhealthy obsession with her (full of long takes and endless close-ups) is meant to be extremely uncomfortable to watch. Also, Gary's other directorial effort, Kill!, was such an unmitigated jaw-dropping disaster (the only film where James Mason is at a loss for what to do), that I feel I must see the work that preceded it. Here's Roger Ebert's classic 1969 review of Birds in Peru -- well worth checking out.
Now that that's done, it's time to pass the baton, so I'm going to call on two bloggers whose lists I'm looking forward to reading: Hotspur of The Wind in the Trees, and filmmaker/critic/all-around-nice-guy Michael Tully.