About a decade ago, for my original “Subterranean Cinema” site, I created an internet version of the classic Amos Vogel book, “Film as a Subversive Art”. Ive located a site online with a PDF version of my adaption! It is also available thru Bittorrent, but you can download it directly here.
I was born in 1963, and in addition to being a film fan for most of that span of time, I have also been a list fan. I loved “The Book of Lists” (and it’s sequels) in the 70s and 80s, and I have had a set of “Best Film” lists that I created for every year going back to 1960, which I have updated when I have seen new films and added them, changed my mind about older films that I used to think were good (and vice versa on older ones that I used to think were bad), etc. Now, I have put those lists online on two websites, “Letterboxd” and “Mubi”, and I have also put them “into print”, in PDF format, for easy reading. This is the “Subterranean Book of Film Lists”. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂
COMING SOON – an updated version going back to the year 1900!
These are very rare English dubbed prints of Lina Wertmuller’s Italian masterpieces, “Seven Beauties” and “Swept Away”.
“Seven Beauties” is about an Italian everyman (Giancarlo Giannini) who deserts the army during World War II and is captured by the Germans and sent to a concentration camp, where he is willing to do anything necessary in order to survive, including having sexual relations with the grotesquely obese and hatefully sadistic female commandant. Through flashbacks, we learn about his family of seven unattractive sisters, his accidental murder of one sister’s lover, his imprisonment in an insane asylum, his rape of a mental patient, and his volunteering to be a soldier to escape confinement, only to find himself in an even worse predicament than before. This was the first film to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Director by a female. It was also nominated for Best Actor, Screenplay, and Foreign Film.
“Swept Away” is about a wealthy woman (Mariangela Melato) whose yachting vacation with friends in the Mediterranean Sea takes an unexpected turn when she and one of the boat’s crew members (Giancarlo Giannini) are separated from the others and they become stranded on a deserted island. The woman’s capitalist beliefs and the man’s communist convictions clash, but during their struggle to survive their situation, their social roles are reversed. This film was remade into a terrible 2002 film starring Madonna and Adriano Giannini (Giancarlo’s son). That version is a travesty!
Some people dislike dubbed films, but I first saw both of these films in the late 70s on PBS, and I love these versions. I dont know if the voice in both of these versions was acted out by Giannini or someone else, but it is endearing.
Rolling Thunder (1977) is a cult classic, directed by John Flynn, and starring William Devane (Charles Rane) and Tommy Lee Jones (Johnny Vohden) as two POWs who return home after seven years of horrific captivity in a Vietnamese prison camp. When Rane’s wife and child are murdered by a group of thugs in a home invasion robbery (which also costs him one of his hands that he has replaced with a steel hook), he tracks them down and, with the help of Vohden, he goes on a murderous rampage of revenge against them in a seedy Mexican brothel.
The screenplay was originally written by Paul Schrader, with a violent ending obviously influenced by the final scenes of “Taxi Driver” (in fact, Travis Bickle makes a tongue-in-cheek cameo appearance in the script, watching a porno film at a drive in!) Intended as a “metaphor for the American racism in Vietnam”, the Schrader version was about (in the author’s words) “a Texas trash racist who had become a war hero without ever having fired a gun”, and it ended not only with Rane killing dozens of Mexicans (guilty and innocent), but also with Rane’s death. These elements were changed by the filmmakers and screenwriter Heywood Gould, without participation by Schrader, and he disapproved of the final film. Quentin Tarantino has said that “Rolling Thunder” is his alltime favorite movie, to the extent that he named a distribution company after it.
Should they have used Schrader’s version? Read this and decide for yourself.
This is a PDF version of the web adaption that I created for my original “Subterranean Cinema” website, with the complete text of the book + all images contained in it. I located this PDF on a very obscure Russian website, with a server so bad that it was barely downloadable. So, I am very glad to be making it easily available to everyone again!
Included at the end of it is my transcription of a 1970 Penthouse interview with Jodorowsky. His footnoted interpretations of the film are sprinkled throughout the narrative, and are in brackets and red print. Enjoy!
In the tragic history of maltreated cinema, I can think of no worse example than the 1994 film by Bill Forsyth, “Being Human”. The director of “Gregory’s Girl” and “Local Hero” wrote a fantastic screenplay about the gentle soul of a simple man’s journey thru the ages, seeking happiness, love, and peace. Unfortunately, the vapid suits at Warner Brothers (already infamous in my eyes for their quashing of George Romero’s “The Stand”, the screenplay of which is also available for viewing on this site) didn’t understand his vision, so they forced him to slash over 40 minutes from the film, and to add one of the worst narration tracks ever (by Theresa Russell) in a pathetic attempt to explain to the audience what they felt was necessary to keep them tuned in and “understanding” what was going on. This faux narration completely ruins the theatrical print of the film: it’s like having a mentally unbalanced woman sitting next to you in the theatre, talking happily back to the screen, until you want to take your popcorn box and shove it down her throat to shut her up. Forsyth rightly disowned the film, which got almost universally negative reviews, and with the exception of a “sequel” to “Gregory’s Girl” in 1999, he never made another film, because of his deep disillusionment.
Fortunately, the original screenplay still exists, and here it is.
This is a “fan edit” created by Stephen Dorian Kutos, which removes all of the terrible narration from the soundtrack, bringing the film much closer to Forsyth’s original vision, and it improves the film’s quality immeasurably.