The Hanged Man (1974, directed by Michael Caffey)

In this made-for-TV western, Steve Forrest stars as James Devlin.  A hired killer and a notorious outlaw, Devlin has finally been captured and is sent to the gallows.  At first, it seems as if the hanging’s been a success and Devlin’s life has been extinguished at the end of the rope.  But then, while his body is at the funeral home and is being prepared for burial, Devlin suddenly opens his eyes and reveals that he’s alive.

No one can figure out how Devlin manage to survive being hung, especially not Devlin.  However, Devlin is now alive and free to leave town.  Has Devlin been sent back to Earth to serve God or did he just get lucky?  Devlin may not be sure himself but he is determined to turn around his old ways.  That starts with protecting a widow (Sharon Acker) and her son (Bobby Eilbacher) from Lew Halleck (Cameron Mitchell), a greedy businessman who wants their land and is prepared to go to any lengths to get it.  Devlin is not only still as good with a gun as he was before his execution but, having survived his hanging, he can now read minds!

The Hanged Man was designed to be a pilot for a weekly TV series and watching it, it’s easy to imagine how the show would have developed.  Devlin would have traveled around the old west, helping out a new guest star every episode and presumably trying to discover why he had been returned to life.  It’s not a bad idea for a show, though the pilot film doesn’t do enough with it.  Despite the fact that Devlin might be undead and that he now has the power to read minds, it really is just a conventional western, featuring the saintly widow and the evil land baron and all of the other familiar tropes of the genre.  It may begin with Devlin coming back to life but it ends with a shoot-out that could have been lifted from any number of old TV shows.

Still, as far as made-for-TV westerns are concerned, this one is entertaining enough.  Steve Forrest is a good hero and, as always, Cameron Mitchell is a good villain.  I wish they had done more with the supernatural aspects of the story but The Hanged Man is good enough for undemanding fans of the genre.

Val’s Mini-Post: A Jump In The Kiddie Pool With 365 Days (2020, dir. Barbara Bialowas & Tomasz Mandes)

Considering I am not on TikTok I of course heard about that challenge to watch the first scene of Gaspar Noé’s self-important, wish-fulfillment film called Love (2015). Fortunately, I had already subjected myself to that movie back in 2015. Unfortunately, that challenge apparently started with some Polish movie I had never heard of before called 365 Days. At the time of writing this post, this is the plot summary on IMDb for it:

Massimo is a member of the Sicilian Mafia family and Laura is a sales director. She does not expect that on a trip to Sicily trying to save her relationship, Massimo will kidnap her and give her 365 days to fall in love with him.

As no one will remember, when Fifty Shades Of Grey (2015) came out I tweeted that it sounded like it was a film for kids to watch during a sleepover so they can think they saw something. It turned out to be accurate. The plot summary above for 365 Days made me think the same thing, so of course I watched it. Don’t judge me. The previous three movies I watched were DDR With Joey King (The Kissing Booth 2), Basically Lego Power Rangers (The Lego Ninjago Movie), and Late Night Cable With 90’s 3D Graphics (Virtual Girl). I already know I have bad taste. So what did I think of it?

It’s not worth your time unless you are a kid who is looking for a movie that will make you think you saw something salacious. Go figure that it’s the same thing I said about Fifty Shades Of Grey. It’s almost like I mentioned that for a reason.

To add a little depth, it’s a pale imitation of something I could see Italian director Lina Wertmüller doing back in the 70s or 80s but with some modern, stylish set design and cinematography added on to it. Specifically, I’m thinking of Wertmüller’s Swept Away (1974)

Swept Away (1974)

and Summer Night With Greek Profile, Almond Eyes And Scent Of Basil (1986).

Summer Night With Greek Profile, Almond Eyes And Scent Of Basil (1986)

And that’s me being very, very kind.

Here’s a couple screenshots that people have included on IMDb for obvious reasons. They get across what it’s like to watch this movie.

We meet again Joey King.

Summer ’03 (2018, dir. Becca Gleason)

It’s an image that is so taboo that it is quickly undercut by the poster for a coming-of-age movie with Joey King. It’s one of the many teases without any substance behind it that you’ll find in this film.

Yes, I’m aware it’s also similar to the poster for Lolita 2000 (1998). You don’t need to remind me.

You might think that he is going to tame her like that lion back there. But like almost all of the sex stuff in this movie, it’s over very quickly and/or goes nowhere like the scene pictured above. Another woman shows up on the other side of the room, she appears to be kissing his knee over and over instead of centering herself, he approaches the kidnapped lady, and then decides against doing anything.

The only scene I remember being complete was a blow job he gets on an airplane from someone else to establish that he takes what he wants. That’s why aside from kidnapping her, he doesn’t really take what he wants in this movie. He nudges her in various ways to try and convince her to give it to him. Character development? I think it was their way of pretending as if she had at least as much choice as Beauty/Belle in Beauty And The Beast, which greatly varies depending on the film version you watch.

This is one of those erotica movies that if you haven’t seen something like it, or something more interesting, then it will still wash on by you without leaving much of an impression. It looks stylish. It’s well-shot. It tries to have some sort of forbidden plot-line to entice you into watching it and others into getting worked up about it. That’s about it!

I wish I had more to say, but I don’t think I should be recommending anything more along these lines–you can find those yourself. It’s also so forgettable that I’m losing memories of it as I type. I don’t think I can even say that it’s worth taking the time to riff. Skip it.

Song of the Day: The Main Theme From For A Few Dollars More by Ennio Morricone

Continuing our tribute to Ennio Morricone, today’s song of the day is the main theme from 1965’s For A Few Dollars More.  If Sergio Leone’s version of the old west was as a mythological landscape, Morricone’s music was always the perfect soundtrack.

Previous Entries In Our Tribute To Morricone:

  1. Deborah’s Theme (Once Upon A Time In America)
  2. Violaznioe Violenza (Hitch-Hike)
  3. Come Un Madrigale (Four Flies on Grey Velvet)
  4. Il Grande Silenzio (The Great Silence)
  5. The Strength of the Righteous (The Untouchables)
  6. So Alone (What Have You Done To Solange?)
  7. The Main Theme From The Mission (The Mission)
  8. The Return (Days of Heaven)
  9. Man With A Harmonic (Once Upon A Time In The West)
  10. The Ecstasy of Gold (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
  11. The Main Theme From The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly)
  12. Regan’s Theme (The Exorcist II: The Heretic)
  13. Desolation (The Thing)
  14. The Legend of the Pianist (The Legend of 1900)
  15. Theme From Frantic (Frantic)
  16. La Lucertola (Lizard In A Woman’s Skin)
  17. Spasmodicamente (Spasmo)
  18. The Theme From The Stendhal Syndrome (The Stendhal Syndrome)
  19. My Name Is Nobody (My Name Is Nobody)
  20. Piume di Cristallo (The Bird With The Crystal Plumage)
  21. For Love One Can Die (D’amore si muore)
  22. Chi Mai (various)
  23. La Resa (The Big Gundown)
  24. Main Title Theme (Red Sonja)
  25. The Main Theme From The Cat O’Nine Tails (The Cat O’Nine Tails)
  26. Deep Down (Danger Diabolik!)
  27. Main Theme From Autopsy (Autopsy)
  28. Main Theme From Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion) 
  29. Main Theme From A Fistful of Dollars (A Fistful of Dollars)

Music Video of the Day: Embarrassment by Madness (1980, directed by ????)

“We were trying to do Motown with this one. Lee Thompson’s sister had a baby with a black man and it caused consternation in his family. It’s a great lyric – really sensational. You couldn’t believe such sensitivity could come from such a rough diamond, but Lee is one of the best lyricists of his time. We were having trouble with people associating us with the NF, so it was nice to establish once and for all that we weren’t.”

— Suggs on Embarrassment 

The NF that Madness’s frontman refers to was the National Front, a fascist British political party that was at the height of its prominence when Embarrassment was recorded.  Because Madness was a ska band and because many of the skinheads who supported the National Front were also into ska music, Madness had to spend a good deal of their early career just assuring people that they were not themselves supporters of the National Front.  (Today, of course, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could listen to any of Madness’s songs and mistake them for supporters of the NF.)  This song, which sympathetically tells the story of a woman who has been rejected by her racist family because she’s having a black man’s baby, is not only a repudiation of everything the NF stood for but it’s also one of Madness’s rare “serious” songs.