‘Deliverance’ with Christopher Dickey

Deliverance (R)
Year: 1972
James Dickey
John Boorman
Burt Reynolds as Lewis
John Voight as Ed
Ned Beatty as Bobby
Ronny Cox as Drew


By: Gurn Blanston

Memories: There are a few things that pop into most people’s heads when you mention the movie Deliverance: Dueling Banjos, inbred hillbillies, squealing like a pig, pretty mouths, but after not seeing it for many years we may be in danger of forgetting what a powerful movie this was, and still is.

I’m not sure when I first Deliverance, it couldn’t have been at its release because I was still too young, but when I finally did have the opportunity to view it, on HBO I guess, because it was an uncut version, I remember being riveted by the whitewater scenes and the brutal portrayal of clashing cultures set in the Georgia backcountry.

Now let’s get some things straight. I am a hillbilly. Well, I am the descendent of hillbillies anyway. On a farm in North Carolina ,I have a relative we refer to as Aunt Mamie who once let me help milk a cow, and my father still crumbles his cornbread into a glass of milk and eats it with a spoon. When I was in junior high, I played the five-string bluegrass banjo, which I thought at the time made me cooler. It didn’t. With all this to consider I was pre-disposed to be forgiving of the backwoods denizens, after watching the movie, not so much.

In the movie, four buddies, John as Ed, Ronny Cox as Drew, Ned Beatty as Bobby and a rugged, outdoorsy Burt Reynolds as Lewis, their erstwhile leader, decide that instead of a golf outing they will take a canoe trip down the fictitious Cahulawassee River in rural Georgia, wanting to see the unspoiled land before a dam is erected and the entire area flooded. The group encounters the locals and takes a rather condescending viewpoint about them. For their part, the hillbillies view the group as a bunch of stuck-up city boys.

As they travel down the river they get separated, Ed and Bobby in one canoe, Drew and Lewis in the other. Ed and Bobby run afoul of two of the good old boys roaming the back country and end up being beaten, tied up, and in Bobby case made to “squeal like a pig” before being stuffed like a turkey by an obviously sexually confused brain-dead hick. Lewis ends up killing the offending Redneck with a bow and arrow, and then the boys take off down the rapids trying to make good their escape, pursued by the kin folk of the skewered sodomite they buried back in the mountains.

After Drew is either killed or commits suicide, I was never sure which, the three remaining friends manage to escape, but not before running into the local sheriff, played by the author James Dickey, who warns them to “Don’t ever do nothin’ like this again…Don’t come back up here”. Good advice.

Growing up I’m sure that most of us have made the “squeal like a pig” or the “you got a pretty mouth” reference in jest. Or maybe that was just me and I have some unresolved gender identification issues, either way, if you go back and watch this film I think you will be struck by the realistic brutality of that and other scenes that can sometimes make the flick hard to watch.

This was an important film of the time, it was nominated for three Academy Awards:Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing, (it didn’t win) and was seen as a dark representation of mans dangerous struggle with adversity.

The film has stuck with me, certain scenes more than others, but all in all this is still one of my favorite all time films.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘Deliverance’ podcast right here

or float on down to the on-site player

Our featured guest: Christopher Dickey

Award-winning author Christopher Dickey in the son of Deliverance writer James Dickey, documenting his time spent of set in the best-selling memoir Summer of Deliverance: A Memoir of Father and Son (Simon & Schuster, 1998). His most recent book Securing the City was published in February 2009, is the Paris Bureau Chief and Middle East Regional Editor for Newsweek Magazine. Previously he worked for The Washington Post as Cairo Bureau Chief and Central America Bureau Chief. Chris’s Shadowland column, about counter-terrorism, espionage and the Middle East, appears weekly on Newsweek Online.

Chris served as a technical advisor on the film, which he says is just a fancy word for “warm body,” but got to see his father’s words come to life directly in front of him. He also recounts the tumultuous legacy the film’s impact had on his father and his family.Chris’s books include With the Contras: A Reporter in the Wilds of Nicaragua (Simon & Schuster, 1986); Expats: Travels from Tripoli to Tehran (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1990) and Innocent Blood: A Novel (Simon & Schuster, 1997). His most recent novel, The Sleeper, was published by Simon & Schuster in September 2004. The New York Times called it “a first-rate thriller.”
He has also written for Foreign Affairs, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Wired, Rolling Stone, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, and The New Republic, among other publications. He is a frequent commentator on CNN, MSNBC and National Public Radio, as well as other television and radio networks.
Chris is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, where he was formerly an Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow; of the Overseas Press Club of America; and of the Anglo-American Press Association of Paris. He is also a visiting professor at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom.

‘Turner & Hooch’ with writer Jack Epps

Turner & Hooch (1989)
Rated: PG-13
Directed by:
Roger Spootiswoode
Written by:
Jack Epps, Jr.
Jim Cash
Dennis Shryack
Daniel Petrie, Jr.
Michael Blodgett
Tom Hanks as Scott Turner
Mare Winningham as Dr. Carson
Craig T. Nelson as Chief Hyde
Reginald VelJohnson as Det. Sutton

By E Dagger from CruJonesSociety

Pre-screening memories: As a kid, Turner & Hooch looked funny because the trailer told me it was supposed to be funny. The truth was, I didn’t grow up with a dog and was sort of afraid of them, so this movie where Tom Hanks’s life gets turned upside down by an unruly canine sure didn’t seem like much fun to me.

When I watched it, I sympathized with Tom Hanks’s Scott Turner and it took me a long time to warm up to Hooch because he was just such a disobedient force of nature. Our house was calm, clean, and organized just like Scott’s, and watching Hooch ransack it gave little 8 year-old me the closest thing to a panic attack a little kid can have.

I was pleased that during the stakeout Scott asks Hooch if he’s ever watched “Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp” because my dad and I used to watch that ridiculous show together. I also remember turning to look at my mom when (SPOILER ALERT) Hooch dies and seeing her cry her eyes out. I’ll admit to feeling sad because the story does a good job of ingratiating Hooch to even the most tenacious holdouts (i.e. me), but since I’d never had a pet die, I didn’t really get it.

Post-screening memories: Damn this movie, and damn getting older. Like my mom 20 years before, when Hooch sacrifices his life for Scott, I joined the long line of people who shed tears at the end of this movie. In my life I’ve lost two parrots and a dog, which were, until last year, the only ones close to me I’d ever lost. Thankfully that’s just the end, and the sadness quickly washes away as we see Scott giving the same spiel to a new rowdy pooch who we find in his closet with one of Scott’s socks in his mouth.

What struck me most about watching this movie again was just how much I missed light, comedic Tom Hanks. I nearly doubled over myself when Tom Hanks is out on his patio wearing his underwear yelling at Hooch to shut up at 2:30 in the morning. Like the famous “There’s no crying in baseball” scene from A League of their Own, Tom Hanks shouting “Eat the buns!” at Hooch reminds you that few do comedically exasperated hollering as well as Tom Hanks. I could watch him slowly unravel and erupt with volcanic hilarity all night and all day, and Turner & Hooch gives you a nice fix if that’s your thing. It’s definitely mine.

ESPN writer Bill Simmons calls this Tom Hanks’s finest performance since he has to play off a dog for nearly the entire movie, and pulls it off brilliantly. While I wouldn’t quite go that far, I would say that I enjoyed this a hell of a lot more now that I’d had a couple of dogs (and now two cats). The movie is clearly written by animal lovers, but they don’t neglect to include all the ways they can be a pain in the ass. As our guest alludes to in our conversation, no one remembers the convoluted embezzlement scheme that serves as the plot’s basic clothesline, but everyone remembers Turner & Hooch.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘Turner & Hooch’ podcast right here.

or you can take it for a walk right on our site:

Our featured guest: Dr. Jack Epps Jr.

Jack has his name attached to some of the most memorable films of the ’80s: The Secret of My Success, Dick Tracy, and the iconic Top Gun.

The award-winning writer teamed with his screenwriting professor from Michigan State, Jim Cash, with whom he collaborated on some of his most notable films.

Dr. Epps in now a professor at USC School of Cinematic Arts and is currently penning storylines for a few upcoming videogames.

Listen to the good doctor share his thoughts about working with animals, the scadalous tales of Hollywood bad-boy Tom Hanks (kidding, folks. He’s squeaky clean), and just how many Hooches it took to make a movie.

Thanks, Jack. You deserve a slobbery smooch for hanging with us.

Messing with Memories: ‘Taxi Driver’

Film: Taxi Driver
Original release date: 1976
Scheduled remake release date: Not Happening!
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd

Wow, that was quick! Just a few days ago, every film site on the net was buzzing about a Trading Places-like bet between director Lars von Trier and Martin Scorsese, in which the latter would resculpt his 1976 masterpiece with a handful of hurdles thrown in his path, a la Danish director Jorgen Leth with his 1967 surrealistic film The Perfect Human for von Trier’s The Five Obstructions.

In that film, Leth had to remake his film, but with certain criteria dictated by von Trier (set in Cuba, must be animated, etc.). When he and Scorsese met recently, speculation swirled that the two agreed to give the same treatment to the iconic Travis Bickle.

But in an article by Geoffrey Macnab of Screen, one of von Trier’s business partners, Peter Aalbaek Jesen, shot holes in the rumors as “rubbish.”

So, thankfully, the original Travis Bickle will live to pick up another fare.

Messing with Memories: ‘The Black Hole’

Title: ‘The Black Hole’
Original: 1979
Scheduled remake date: 2011

For many a Natsukashi fan and contributor, ‘The Black Hole’ was one of the first forays into darker, more cerebral sci-fi fare. It was much more heady than the fizz of Star Wars, and its Inferno-like set design left us with many a nightmare, despite the Slim Pickens-voiced shenanigans of B.O.B.

With Tron Legacy prepping for release, it’s director, Joseph Kosinski, is busy working on a “reimagining” the oft-overlooked entry in the Disney library. According to an interview on MTV, Kosinski promises a film that sticks to a more consistent scientific tone. As anyone who has seen the film  (as an adult of child) can attest, the film really does not need to go much darker (Maximilian is still one of the scarier robots ever put to film).

And don’t even think about touching John Barry’s iconic score, dammit.

As mentioned in a prior podcast revisiting The Black Hole, there were even a lucky few who purchased owed the short-lived action figures from the film so that they may create their own pre-school vision of hell in space…

Source: The Hollywood Reporter,

Messing with Memories: ‘Escape From New York’

Title: Escape From New York
Original Release Date: July 10, 1981
Potential Remake Date: 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011

Could 2011 be the Year of the Snake?

Snake Plissken is on the fast track yet again, according to New York Magazine’s Vulture blog. For those who follow film, this may be just another threat, as a remake of the film has been penned by Ken Nolan and Jonathan Mostow. Underworld‘s Len Weisman was first set to direct, but then bailed. And then, of course, there were the rumors that Brett Ratner (shudder) was going to direct. Gerard Butler was famously attached to the project immediately after the success of 300, but decided to stick to dining in hell, not Hell’s Kitchen, and exited the project.

And now, Allan Loeb, whose biggest accomplishment to date is writing the Vegas caper 21, is apparently ready to take it on.  In the piece, New Line execs are said to be “fast-tracking” the picture after reading Loeb’s take on Snake. Apparently, the writer is said to “get” the character without camping him up too much.

Here’s the original’s trailer. Enjoy the memories while they last:

Sources: FirstShowing.net, iesb.net, Ain’t it Cool News, The Vulture, Variety

‘Never Cry Wolf’ with writer Richard Kletter

Never Cry Wolf (1983)
Rated: PG
Directed by:
Carroll Ballard
Written by:
Farley Mowat (novel)
Richard Kletter (screenplay)
Curtis Hanson
Sam Hamm
Chales Martin Smith as Tyler
Brian Dennehy as Rosie
Zachary Ittimangnaq as Ootek
Samson Jorah as Mike

By Bo from Last Blog on the Left (with special guest star Shelley Stillo)

Pre-screening memoriesNever Cry Wolf was an important film for me when I was a child.  An animal lover at an early age, I found myself seeking out those books and movies that focused specifically on dogs and their ilk.  Sounder was my favorite book, and when Never Cry Wolf arrived on home video, I was quick to find it.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the beauty of the film, the quiet and somber tone that was such a revelation to a young viewer. 

At that time, there was nothing political or environmental in my thinking, having been raised on a steady diet of cartoons and Sesame Street.  When I followed Tyler into the Alaskan Arctic, his revelations were my own.  The natural world, until then a patch of woods behind my home, became a reality, a world that I could only visit, at the time, through film, but one that I learned to value.  Additionally, the film inspired a love of the wolf that has remained to this day, admiring their familial and societal nature, the lonely howls, the eerily perceptive and intelligent eyes.   

New memories: To this day, I am a dog lover first and foremost.  Some of that, I think, is based on my first encounter with Caroll Ballard’s Never Cry Wolf and my fixation on the domestic canine’s wilder cousin.  There is a playfulness coupled with instinct that I still find fascinating in the wolf.  Looking back on the film, now, I have discovered the same amazement, the same awe that I first felt upon my initial viewing of the movie.  It is a stunningly gorgeous film, one that begs for a Blu-ray transfer, and a somber story of man’s progress and the effects of that progress on the world around him.   

There is a sadness in this film, too, made more melancholy by the exacerbated problems we see in the remaining wilderness.  I am forever torn between the Carlin-esque hopelessness for our species and the nagging belief that maybe, under the right circumstances, we could live in concert with nature.  This film poses no answers to this dilemma, but Never Cry Wolf beautifully illustrates the problems without lapsing into moralizing, and gives us a glimpse into a world of wonder that shrinks each day.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘Never Cry Wolf’ podcast here

…or listen in the right in the comfort of this very site

Our featured guest: Screenwriter Richard Kletter

Richard Kletter began his film career as a producer on independent films including Cannes Festival winner, Northern Lights. Since then, he has written, directed and/or produced more than 20 films and TV movies. His films have received Golden Globe nominations and won awards at various festivals.

Kletter teaches screenwriting at USC School of Cinematic Arts. His feature credits include Dangerous Indiscretion (with C. Thomas Howell and Malcolm McDowell), and The Black Stallion Returns. Some of his television credits include the series The Magnificent Seven, the Lifetime movie She’s Too Young (with Marcia Gay Harden) the acclaimed films Odd Girl Out and Queen Sized.

He’s currently working on a script about a young girl of privilege kidnapped by a biker gang. Hell, yeah! We are soooooo there, Richard! Thank you for joining us.

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