4 Shots From 4 Robby Müller Films: Paris, Texas, Dead Man, Breaking The Waves, 24 Hour Party People


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

RIP, the great cinematography Robby Müller .

4 Shots From 4 Robby Müller Films

Paris, Texas (1984, dir by Wim Wenders)

Dead Man (1995, dir by Jim Jarmusch)

Breaking the Waves (1996, dir by Lars Von Trier)

24 Hour Party People (2002, dir by Michael Winterbottom)

Games People Play: Alfred Hitchcock’s DIAL M FOR MURDER (Warner Brothers 1954)


cracked rear viewer

Alfred Hitchcock  wasn’t afraid to take chances. When the 3-D craze hit in the 1950’s, the innovative director jumped on the new technology to make DIAL M FOR MURDER, based on Frederick Knott’s hit play. The film is full of suspense, and contains many of The Master’s signature touches, but on the whole I consider it to be lesser Hitchcock… which is certainly better than most working in the genre, but still not up to par for Hitch.

Knott adapted his play for the screen, and keeps the tension mounting throughout. The story is set in London, and revolves around ex-tennis pro Tony Wendice, whose wife Margot is having an affair with American mystery writer Mark Halliday. Tony comes up with an elaborate plot to have her murdered by stealing a love letter Mark has written and blackmailing her, then setting up his old school acquaintance C.A. Swann, a man…

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The Conquering Hero: Baby Blue Marine (1976, directed by John D. Hancock)


The year is 1943 and America is at war.  All young men are expected to join the Marines and fight for their country but the Corps is not willing to accept just anyone.  Marion (Jan-Michael Vincent) wants to continue a family tradition of service but, as his drill sergeant (Michael Conrad) puts it, Marion just is not pissed off enough to be a Marine.  Marion is kicked out basic training and told to go home.  He is given a blue uniform to wear on his jury so that anyone who sees him will know that he couldn’t cut it.

Ashamed of his failure and in no hurry to confront his family, Marion takes the long route home.   While having a drink in California, he meets a Marine (Richard Gere) who did not get kicked out of basic training.  Though not yet 30, this shell-shocked Marine already has a head of gray hair, which he says he got from the horrors of war.  The Marine is due to return to the fighting in Europe but, upon meeting Marion, he sees a way out. When Marion gets drunk, the Marine knocks him out, switches uniforms with him, and goes AWOL.

When Marion comes to, he discovers that everyone that he meets now judges him by his new uniform.  Strangers buy him drinks.  Other servicemen try to pick fights with him.  When he stops off in a small Colorado town, a local waitress (Glynnis O’Connor) falls in love with him and nearly everyone that he meets assumes that he must be a hero.  Marion doesn’t exactly lie about his past.  Instead, he simply allows people to believe whatever they want to believe about him.  It seems like an idyllic situation until three prisoners from a nearby Japanese internment camp escape and the towns people expect Marion to help capture them.

Loosely plotted and sentimental, Baby Blue Marine is a dramatic version of Preston Sturges’s Hail The Conquering Hero.  Though the film has a gentle anti-war message, it’s actually more about nostalgia for a simpler and more innocent time.  If the film had been made at height of the Vietnam War, it might have been more angrier and more cynical.  But, instead, this is one of the many post-Watergate films that wistfully looked back upon the past.  When Marion settles into the town, he finds what appears to be a perfect and friendly home.  Only the nearby internment camp and the town’s hysteria over the escape prisoners serve as reminders that things are never as ideal as they seem.  Jan-Michael Vincent gives one of his best performances as the well-meaning Marion and actors like Richard Gere, Bert Remsen, Katherine Helmond, Dana Elcar, Michael Conrad, Bruno Kirby, and Art Lund all make strong impressions in small roles.

One of the few films to be produced by television mogul Aaron Spelling, Baby Blue Marine is not easy to find but worth the search.

In Memoriam : Steve Ditko, 1927-2018


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Okay, here’s the deal : I had this whole thing done — and probably done better — and I scrapped it. This now-meager memorial to the inimitable, irreplaceable Steve Ditko — artist, creator, visionary, iconoclast — initially had a soaring, elegiac title, was loaded with florid and heartfelt prose, and went into his work in excruciating, exacting detail.

It was a good piece. I liked it a lot. It took three-plus hours to whip it into shape. And then I shit-canned the whole thing and started over from scratch because I realized that’s not what Ditko would have wanted.

He was all about letting his work speak for itself, you see — that’s why he famously never gave interviews or appeared at conventions after 1968. That’s why he never wanted his photo taken. That’s why he headed for the exits at one publisher after another when he felt that…

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Music Video of The Day: Everyday I Write The Book by Elvis Costello & The Attractions (1983, directed by Don Letts)


“(A) song I wrote in ten minutes almost as a challenge to myself. I thought, maybe I could write just a simple, almost formula song and make it mean something…”

That was how Elvis Costello described Everyday I Write The Book in an 1998 interview.  The song went on to become one of Costello’s best-known compositions and the subsequent music video was a hit during the early days of MTV.  Directed by Don Letts, the video features Elvis performing while Prince Charles haplessly attempts to woo Princess Diana (both of whom are played by celebrity lookalikes).  Released just two years after their royal wedding and at a time when the story of Diana and Charles were still being held up as the ideal romantic fairy tale, this video proved to be prophetic in its portrayal of Charles and Diana’s marriage.

According to Costello, director Don Letts was solely responsible for the idea of using the royal lookalikes in the video.  Letts is best known for his collaborations with The Clash.  Not only did he direct several music videos for that group but he and Mick Jones later co-founded Big Audio Dynamite.

Yesterday, Elvis Costello announced that he would be cancelling the last six performances of his current tour because his battling what has been described as being “very aggressive cancer.”  I know that I speak for a lot of music fans when I say that we’re all keeping Elvis in our thoughts and that we hope he makes a full recovery.