Rage (1972, directed by George C. Scott)


Wyoming sheep rancher Dan Logan (George C. Scott) and his teenage son, Chris (Nicolas Beauvy), spend a night camping out on their land.  While Dan stays in the tent, Chris decides to sleep outside, underneath the stars.  The next morning, Dan leaves the tent to discover that all of his sheep are dead and that Chris is having violent convulsions.  Dan rushes his son to the local hospital, where he hopes that the family’s longtime physician, Dr. Caldwell (Richard Basehart), can save his son’s life.

However, at the hospital, Dan is separated from his son.  Two doctors that he’s never met before — Dr. Spencer (Barnard Hughes) and Major Holliford (Martin Sheen) — take over his case.  They tell him that Chris was probably just exposed to an insecticide and that both Dan and his son are going to have to stay at the hospital for a few days.  Dan is confined to his room and not allowed to see his son.

What Dan doesn’t know is that both he and his son have been unwittingly exposed to a secret army nerve gas.  Though the experiment was only meant to be performed on the animals that were grazing on Dan’s land, Dan and Chris were accidentally sprayed.  When Dan discovers the truth about what’s been done to him and his son, he sets out to try to get revenge with what little time he has left.

Fresh from refusing an Oscar for Patton, George C. Scott made his feature film directorial debut with Rage.  (He had previously directed The Andersonville Trial for television.)  As a director, Scott sometimes struggles.  Rage is so relentlessly grim and serious that even the most experienced director would have had a difficult time making it compelling.  The scenes in the hospital are effective claustrophobic but they’re also often dramatically inert.  The only humor in the film comes from Scott’s overuse of slow motion.  When even simple scenes, like throwing coffee on a campfire, are shown in slow motion, it goes from being ominous to unintentionally humorous.

As a director, Scott did make a very wise decision by casting himself in the lead role.  No one was better at portraying pure, incandescent anger than George C. Scott and the film picks up once Dan discovers what’s been done to himself and his son.  Once Dan sets off to get revenge, Rage becomes an entirely different film, one that is about both a father’s anger and the cold calculation of a government that views him as just as a subject to be tested upon.  The final scene is especially effective and suggests that Scott could have become an interesting director if he had stuck with it.

Scott would direct one more film, The Savage Is Loose, before devoting the rest of his distinguished career to performing.

Horror Scenes That I Love: After The Changeling’s seance….


So, last night, at the TSL offices, Jeff, Leonard, Case, and I watched Insidious!  It was an enjoyable experience.  I think we were all surprised to discover just how well Insidious holds up.  When the film reached the seance scene, in which the ghosts were asked questions and a possessed Lin Shaye would write out their answers, I said, “This scene reminds me of the seance scene from The Changeling!

And then I thought to myself, “That should be our next horror scene that I love!”

So, I went to YouTube and I searched for the classic (and really scary) seance scene from Peter Medak’s great 1980 ghost story, The Changeling.  And guess what?  I couldn’t find it!  I found a lot of scenes from The Changeling and I found a lot of people talking about how much they love the seance scene but I couldn’t find the scene itself!

So, here’s the best I could do.  This scene that I love takes place immediately after the seance and features George C. Scott listening and re-listening to a tape of the seance until he can finally hear the voice of the child who, years before, was murdered in his house.

Even if it’s not the seance scene, it’s still pretty good.  I personally consider this to be one of George C. Scott’s best performances.  And the sound of the little boy’s voice on the tape is chilling.

The Changeling is really good, by the way.  You should watch it, if you haven’t already!

Horror Film Review: Firestarter (dir by Mark L. Lester)


Adapted from Stephen King novel, 1984’s Firestarter is a film about a girl with a very special power.

Back in the day, a bunch of college students needed weed money so they took part in a government experiment.  Half of them were told that they were being given a placebo.  The other half were told that we would be given a low-grade hallucinogen.

Surprise!  The government lied!  It turns out that everyone was given the experimental drug!  Some of the students ended up going crazy.  One unfortunate hippie clawed his eyes out.  Meanwhile, Vicky (Heather Locklear) gained the ability to read minds.  She also fell in love with Andy McGee (David Keith), a goofy fellow who gained the ability to mentally control people’s actions.  They married and had a daughter named Charlie (played by a very young Drew Barrymore).  Charlie, it turns out, can set things on fire!  She’s a firestarter!

Well, of course, the government can’t just leave the McGees out there, controlling minds and setting things on fire.  Soon, the McGees are being pursued by the standard collection of men in dark suits.  Vicky is killed off-screen, leaving Charlie and Andy to try to find some place where they’ll be safe.

Good luck with that!  This is the government that we’re talking about.  The thing with films like this is that the government can do practically anything but it never occurs to them to not all dress in dark suits.  I mean, it just seems like it would be easier for all of these secret agents to operate if they weren’t automatically identifiable as being secret agents.  Anyway, Andy and Charlie are eventually captured and taken to The Farm, a really nice country estate where Andy and Charlie are kept separate from each other and everyone keeps talking about national security.

Running the Farm is Capt. Hollister and we know that he’s a bad guy because he wears a suit and he’s played by Martin Sheen.  Working with Hollister is John Rainbird (George C. Scott), a CIA assassin who kills people with a karate chop across the nose.  When Charlie refuses to show off her firemaking abilities unless she’s allowed to talk to her father, Rainbird disguises himself as a custodial engineer and proceeds to befriend Charlie.  Of course, Rainbird’s plan is to kill Charlie once she’s displayed the extent of her powers….

Stephen King has written that he considers this film to be one of the worst adaptations of one of his novels but, to be honest, I think the movie is actually a bit of an improvement on the source material.  Firestarter is probably the least interesting of Stephen King’s early novels.  Supposedly, Charlie was based on King’s youngest daughter and, reading the book, it’s obvious that everyone’s fear of Charlie is mostly a metaphor for a father trying to figure out how to raise a daughter.  Unfortunately, instead of concentrating on those primal fears, the book gets bogged down in boomer paranoia about MK-ULTRA experiments.

The movie, however, is just silly enough to be kind of charming.  For example, consider the way that Andy grabs his forehead and bugs out his eyes whenever he uses his powers.  Andy’s powers may be slowly killing him but he just looks so goofy whenever he uses them that you just can’t help but be entertained.  And then you’ve got Drew Barrymore sobbing while setting people on fire and George C. Scott growling through all of his dialogue and even Martin Sheen gets a scene where he gets excited and starts jumping up and down.  (And don’t even get me started on Art Carney and Louise Fletcher as the salt-of-the-Earth farmers who try to protect Andy and Charlie….)  Some of the special effects are a bit hokey, as you might expect from a film made in 1984 but occasionally, there’s a good shot of something (or someone) burning up.  It’s all so over-the-top and relentlessly dumb that you can’t help but be entertained.  You can even forgive the fact that basically nothing happens between the first 10 and the last 15 minutes of the movie.

Firestarter‘s silly but I liked it.

Catching-Up With Two Courtroom Dramas: Suspect and 12 Angry Men


As a part of my continuing effort to get caught up with reviewing all of the movies that I’ve seen this year, here’s two courtroom dramas that I recently caught on This TV.

  • Suspect
  • Released in 1987
  • Directed by Peter Yates
  • Starring Cher, Dennis Quaid, Liam Neeson, John Mahoney, Joe Mantegna, Philip Bosco, Fred Melamed, Bernie McInerney, Bill Cobbs, Richard Gant, Jim Walton, Michael Beach, Ralph Cosham, Djanet Sears 

Suspect is a hilariously dumb movie.  How dumb is it?  Let me count the ways.

First off, Cher plays a highly successful if rather stressed public defender.  And don’t get me wrong.  It’s not that Cher is a bad actress or anything.  She’s actually pretty good when she’s playing Cher.  But, in this movie, she’s playing someone who managed to graduate from law school and pass the DC bar.

Secondly, Cher is assigned to defend a homeless man when he’s accused of murdering a clerk who works for the Justice Department.  The homeless man is deaf and mute, which isn’t funny.  What is funny is when he gets a shave and a shower and he’s magically revealed to be a rather handsome and fresh-faced Liam Neeson.  Liam doesn’t give a bad performance in the role.  In fact, he probably gives the best performance in the film.  But still, it’s hard to escape the fact that he’s Liam Neeson and he basically looks like he just arrived for a weekend at Cannes.

Third, during the trial, one of the jurors (Dennis Quaid) decides to investigate the case on his own.  Cher even helps him do it, which is the type of thing that would get a real-life attorney disbarred.  However, I guess Cher thinks that it’s worth the risk.  I guess that’s the power of Dennis Quaid’s smile.

Fourth, the prosecuting attorney is played by Joe Mantegna and he gives such a good performance that you find yourself hoping that he wins the case.

Fifth, while it’s true that real-life attorneys are rarely as slick or well-dressed as they are portrayed in the movies, one would think that Cher would at least take off her leather jacket before cross-examining a witness.

Sixth, it’s not a spoiler to tell you that the homeless man is innocent.  We know he’s innocent from the minute that we see he’s Liam Neeson.  Liam only kills who people deserve it.  The real murderer is revealed at the end of the film and it turns out to be the last person you would suspect, mostly because we haven’t been given any reason to suspect him.  The ending is less of a twist and more an extended middle finger to any viewer actually trying to solve the damn mystery.

I usually enjoy a good courtroom drama but bad courtroom dramas put me to sleep.  Guess which one Suspect was.

 

  • 12 Angry Men
  • Released 1997
  • Directed by John Frankenheimer
  • Starring Courtney B. Vance, Ossie Davis, George C. Scott, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Dorian Harewood, James Gandolfini, Tony Danza, Jack Lemmon, Hume Cronyn, Mykelti Williamson, Edward James Olmos, William Petersen, Mary McDonnell, Tyrees Allen, Douglas Spain

The 12 Angry Men are back!

Well, no, not actually.  This is a remake of the classic 1957 film and it was produced for Showtime.  It’s updated in that not all of the jurors are white and bigoted Juror #10 (Mykelti Williamson) is now a member of the Nation of Islam.  Otherwise, it’s the same script, with Juror #8 (Jack Lemmon) trying to convince the other jurors not to send a young man to Death Row while Juror #3 (George C. Scott) deals with his family issues.

I really wanted to like this production, as it had a strong cast and a strong director and it was a remake of one of my favorite films.  Unfortunately, the remake just didn’t work for me.  As good an actor as Jack Lemmon was, he just didn’t project the same moral authority as Henry Fonda did the original.  If Fonda seemed to be the voice of truth and integrity, Lemmon just came across like an old man who had too much time on his hands.  Without Fonda’s moral certitude, 12 Angry Men simply becomes a story about how 12 men acquitted a boy of murder because they assumed that a woman would be too vain to wear her glasses to court.  The brilliance of the original is that it keeps you from dwelling on the fact that the accused was probably guilty.  The remake, however, feels like almost an argument for abandoning the jury system.

Dirty Boulevard: George C. Scott in HARDCORE (Columbia 1979)


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Cracked Rear Viewer: “Back in the day….”

Dear Readers: (groaning) “There he goes again. Another history lesson!”

CRV: “B-but it’s important to put things in their proper historical context!”

DRs: (sigh) “We guess you’re right. Sorry.”

CRV: (beaming) “No problem! Now, like I was saying…”

Back in the day, every major urban city, and many smaller sized ones, had what was known as a “Red Light District”, where sex workers plied their trade. These streets were loaded with sex shops, peep shows, massage parlors, strip joints, and Triple-X movie palaces, with hookers and drug dealers hawking their wares. New York City had its Times Square/42nd Street area, Boston had The Combat Zone near Chinatown, and Montreal the infamous St. Catherine Street. For Los Angeles, the action was on Sunset Boulevard, and it’s into this seedy milieu that writer/director Paul Schrader plunges George C. Scott in 1979’s HARDCORE, which isn’t about…

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A Movie A Day #232: Tyson (1995, directed by Uli Edel)


If any heavyweight champion from the post-Ali era of boxing has lived a life that seems like it should be ready-made for the biopic treatment, it is “Iron Mike” Tyson.  In 1995, HBO stepped up to provide just such a film.

In an episodic fashion, Tyson tells the story of Mike Tyson’s rise and fall.  At the start of the movie, Tyson is a child trying to survive on the tough streets of Brooklyn.  The events that unfold should be familiar to any fight fan: Mike (played by Spawn himself, Michael Jai White) gets sent to reform school. Mike is taken under the wing of the legendary trainer, Cus D’Amato (George C. Scott). Mike becomes the youngest heavyweight champion, marries and divorces Robin Givens (Kristen Wilson), and eventually falls under the corrupting influence of the flamboyant Don King (Paul Winfield).  After failing to train properly for what should have been a routine fight, Tyson loses his title and subsequently, he is convicted of rape and sent to prison.

Tyson aired shortly after the real Mike was released from prison and announced his return to boxing.  Unfortunately, much of what Mike Tyson is best known for occurred after he was released from prison.  As a result, don’t watch Tyson to see Mike bite off Evander Holyfield’s ear.  Don’t watch it expecting to see Mike get his famous facial tattoo.  All of that happened after Tyson aired.  Instead, Tyson tells the story of the first half of Mike’s life in conventional biopic style.  There is even a montage of newspaper headlines.

The best thing about Tyson is the cast.  Even though the film does not delve too deeply into any aspect of Tyson’s life, all of the actors are well-chosen.  In some ways, Michael Jai White has an impossible role.  Tyson has such a famous persona that it had to be difficult to play him without slipping into mere impersonation but White does a good job of suggesting that there is more to Tyson than just his voice and his anger.  Scott and Winfield are both ideally cast as Tyson’s contrasting father figures, with Winfield especially digging into the Don King role.

HBO’s Tyson is a good starter if you do not know anything about Mike’s early career but the definitive Mike Tyson film remains James Toback’s documentary, which also happens to be titled Tyson.

Criminally Underrated: George C. Scott in BANK SHOT (United Artists 1974)


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I’m a big fan of the novels and short stories of Edgar Award-winning writer Donald E. Westlake , named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. His comic-laced crime capers featuring master planner Dortmunder were well suited for films and the first book in the series, THE HOT ROCK, was filmed by Peter Yates in 1972 with Robert Redford as the mastermind. Two years later came BANK SHOT, the second Dortmunder novel, starring George C. Scott but changing the character’s name to Walter Ballentine due to legal issues. Dortmunder or Ballentine, BANK SHOT is a zany film with a fine cast of actors that deserves another look.

Ballentine is doing life in Warden “Bulldog” Streiger’s maximum security prison, but when his shady “lawyer” and confidant Al G. Karp visits with an idea for a new “shot”, the hardened criminal makes his escape. Karp needs Ballentine’s expertise to plan the robbery of Mission Bell…

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Film Review: The Hindenburg (dir by Robert Wise)


80 years ago, on May 6th, 1937, the Hindenburg, a German airship, exploded in the air over New Jersey.  The disaster was not only covered live by radio reporter Herbert Morrison (whose cry of “Oh the humanity!” continues to be parodied to this day) but it was also one of the first disasters to be recorded on film.  Looking at the footage of the Hindenburg exploding into flame and sinking to the ground, a mere skeleton of what it once was, it’s hard to believe that only 36 people died in the disaster.  The majority of those who died were crew members, most of whom lost their lives while helping passengers off of the airship.  (Fortunately, the Hindenburg was close enough to the ground that many of the passengers were able to escape by simply jumping.)

Not surprisingly, there was a lot of speculation about what led to the Hindenburg (which has successfully completed 63 flights before the disaster) exploding.  The most commonly accepted explanation was that it was simply an act of God, the result of either lightning or improperly stored helium.  Apparently, there was no official evidence found to suggest that sabotage was involved but, even back in 1937, people loved conspiracy theories.

And really, it’s not totally implausible to think that the Hindenburg was sabotaged.  The Hindenburg was making its first trans-Atlantic flight and it was viewed as being a symbol of Nazi Germany.  One of the ship’s passengers, Captain Ernest Lehman, was coming to the U.S. in order to lobby Congress to give Germany helium for their airships.  With Hitler regularly bragging about the superiority of German industry, the theory was that an anti-Nazi crewman or passengers planted a bomb on the Hindenburg.  Since no individual or group ever stepped forward to claim responsibility, the theory continues that the saboteur must have perished in the disaster.

At the very least, that’s the theory put forward by a film that I watched earlier today, the 1975 disaster movie, The Hindenburg.

A mix of historical speculation and disaster film melodrama, The Hindenburg stars George C. Scott as Col. Franz Ritter, a veteran of the German air force who is assigned to travel on the Hindenburg and protect it from saboteurs.  Ritter is a Nazi but, the film argues, he’s a reluctant and disillusioned Nazi.  Just a few weeks before the launch of the airship, his teenage son was killed while vandalizing a synagogue.  Ritter is a patriot who no longer recognizes his country and George C. Scott actually does a pretty good job portraying him.  (You do have to wonder why a seasoned veteran of the German air force would have a gruff, slightly mid-Atlantic accent but oh well.  It’s a 70s disaster film.  These things happen.)

Ritter is assigned to work with Martin Vogel (Roy Thinnes), a member of the Gestapo who is working undercover as the Hindenburg’s photographer.  Tt soon becomes obvious that he is as much a fanatic as Ritter is reluctant.  Vogel is a sadist, convinced that every Jewish passenger is secretly a saboteur.  Thinnes is chilling in the role.  What makes him especially frightening is not just his prejudice but his casual assumption that everyone feels the same way that he does.

And yet, as good as Scott and Thinnes are, the rest of the cast is rather disappointing.  The Hindenburg features a large ensemble of actors, all playing characters who are dealing with their own privates dramas while hoping not to burn to death during the final 15 minutes of the film.  Unfortunately, even by the standards of a typical 70s disaster film, the passengers are thinly drawn.  I liked Burgess Meredith and Rene Auberjonois as two con artists but that was mostly because Meredith and Auberjonois are so charming that they’re fun to watch even if they don’t have anything to do.  Anne Bancroft has one or two good scenes as a German baroness and Robert Clary does well as a vaudeville performer who comes under suspicion because of his anti-Nazi leanings.  Otherwise, the passengers are forgettable.  Whether they die in the inferno and manage to make it to the ground, your main reaction will probably be to look at them and say, “Who was that again?”

Anyway, despite all of Ritter and Vogel’s sleuthing, it’s not much of mystery because it’s pretty easy to figure out that the saboteur is a crewman named Boerth (William Atherton).  Having seen Real GeniusDie Hard and the original Ghostbusters, I found it odd to see William Atherton playing a sympathetic character.  Atherton did okay in the role but his attempt at a German accent mostly served to remind me that absolutely no one else in the film was trying to sound German.

Anyway, the main problem with The Hindenburg is that it takes forever for the airship to actually explode.  The film tries to create some suspense over whether Ritter will keep the bomb from exploding but we already know that he’s not going to.  (Let’s be honest.  If you didn’t already know about the Hindenburg disaster, you probably wouldn’t be watching the movie in the first place.)  The film probably would have worked better if it had started with the Hindenburg exploding and then had an investigator working backwards, trying to figure out who the saboteur was.

However, the scenes of the explosion almost make up for everything that came before.  When that bomb goes off, the entire film suddenly switches to black-and-white.  That may sound like a cheap or even sensationalistic trick but it actually works quite well.  It also allows the scenes of passengers and crewmen trying to escape to be seamlessly integrated with actual footage of the Hindenburg bursting into flame and crashing to the ground.  The real-life footage is still shocking, especially if you’re scared of fire.  Watching the real-life inferno, I was again shocked to realize that only 36 people died in the disaster.

In the end, The Hindenburg is flawed but watchable.  George C. Scott was always at his most watchable when playing a character disappointed with humanity and the real-life footage of the Hindenburg disaster is morbidly fascinating.

Oh, the humanity indeed!

Harrow Alley, A Film That Never Was


Harrow Alley (1880, Gustave Dore)

Originally, I was thinking that, since it’s April Fools Day, I would write a 2,000-word review of an “obscure” Italian horror film and then, after I gotten everyone all enthused about tracking down this masterpiece, I would go “April Fools!”

But you know what?

I freaking hate it when people do stuff like that.  Seriously, that’s a really awful way to treat your loyal readers.  If any of the blogs that you follow pull anything like that on you today, I suggest you unfollow them and instead, switch your allegiance over to us.  We love you.

But anyway!  Since I won’t be writing about a fictional film, I thought I might take this opportunity  to tell you about Harrow Alley, a screenplay that has frequently been described as the best script to never be produced.

(Now, I should admit that one of the people who said that was a writer for The Huffington Post and usually, disagreeing with The Huffington Post is point of honor for me.  But, seriously, Harrow Alley sounds so intriguing that I’m willing to make an exception to this rule.)

Harrow Alley was written, in 1970, by a screenwriter named Walter Brown Newman.  It’s a historical film, one that is set in the 17th century.  The Bubonic Plague is ravaging London but the citizens of the Harrow Alley neighborhood are simply trying to survive from day-to-day without sacrificing their humanity.  Harry is a well-meaning alderman who, after every other official flees the city, finds himself as the unofficial leader of Harrow Alley.  He’s an optimist who provides strength to the entire neighborhood but the demands of being positive in the face of death start to wear on him.  His wife is pregnant and, much like Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead, he has to wonder whether it’s right to bring a child into this Hellish world.  As the film progresses, he watches as his friends and neighbors die of the plague.  He’s even forced to kill his beloved dog.

Harry befriends Ratsey, a thief who survived the plague when he was a child.  With everyone wrongly convinced that Ratsey is now immune to the plague, the former thief becomes one of the most respected men in the neighborhood.  (Because of his “immunity,” he is also one of the few people who can help dispose of the dead.)  With Harry as his mentor, Ratsey becomes respectable.  Ratsey starts out as a cynical opportunist but, in the middle of the Great Plague of London, he discovers his humanity.  Even when Ratsey learns that no one is immune to the plague, even if they’ve had it before, he does not flee.  He continues to help dispose of the dead.

But even as Ratsey becomes stronger, Harry grows weaker.  When his wife and child die, Harry vanishes.  Ratsey steps into his place.  Ratsey becomes the new leader of Harrow Alley.  And, months later, when Ratsey arrests a beggar who has just killed a man, he is shocked to discover that the beggar is Harry.

And so the film ends.

Sounds like a really happy movie, doesn’t it?

And did I mention that the script is apparently 180 pages, which would translate to three hours of screen time?

It’s easy to see why Harrow Alley has never been produced.  Can you imagine being the advertising genius who has to make a three-hour film about the Bubonic Plague into a box office success?  That said, the film still sounds incredibly intriguing to me.  Maybe it’s because I’m a history nerd, but the story just fascinates me.  From what I’ve heard, this is a script that literally has everything: tragedy, romance, and even a little dark comedy.

Interestingly enough, Harrow Alley apparently came close to being produced in the 80s.  In this projected version, Harry would have been played by George C. Scott while a young Mel Gibson would have played Ratsey.  It sounds like brilliant casting to me.

Harry?

Ratsey?

If they produced the film today, I could just easily imagine Gibson in the role of Harry and maybe Tom Hardy as Ratsey.

(Bring the Mad Maxes together!)

Harry?

Ratsey?

Though Walter Brown Newman died in 1993, his script is still out there.  Maybe, someday, it will be produced.  If it is, I’ll definitely be there to watch it.

All three hours of it.

Embracing the Melodrama Part II #59: Hardcore (dir by Paul Schrader)


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“Turn it off…turn it off…turn it off…TURN IT OFF!” — Jake Van Dorn (George C. Scott) in Hardcore (1979)

Jake Van Dorn (George C. Scott) is a businessman who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He’s a deeply religious man, a sincere believer in predestination and the idea that only an elite few has been prelected to go to Heaven.  Jake is divorced (though he occasionally tells people that his wife died) and is the father of a teenage girl named Kristen (Ilah Davis).

One of the first things that we notice about Jake is that there appears to be something off about his smile.  There’s no warmth or genuine good feeling behind it.  Instead, whenever Jake smile, it’s obvious that it’s something he does because that what he’s supposed to do.  Indeed, everything Jake does is what he’s supposed to do and he expects his daughter to do the same.

When Kristen goes to a church camp in California, she soon disappears.  Jake and his brother-in-law, Wes (Dick Sargent), fly down to Los Angeles and hire a sleazy private investigator, Andy Mast (Peter Boyle), to look for her.  A few weeks later, Andy shows Jake a pornographic film.  The star?  Kristen.

Jake is convinced that Kristen has been kidnapped and is being held captive.  Wes tells Jake that he should just accept that this is God’s will.  Andy tells Jake that, even if he does find Kristen, Jake might not want her back.  Finally, Jake tells off Wes, fires Andy, and ends up in Los Angeles himself.  Pretending to be a film producer and recruiting a prostitute named Nikki (Season Hubley) to serve as a guide, Jake searches for his daughter.

The relationship between Jake and Nikki is really the heart of the film.  For Jake, Nikki becomes a temporary replacement for his own daughter.  For Nikki, Jake appears to be the only man in the world who doesn’t want to use her sexually.  But, as Jake gets closer and closer to finding his daughter, Nikki realizes that she’s getting closer and closer to being abandoned.

Hardcore is a pretty good film, one that was shot in location in some of the sleaziest parts of 70s Los Angeles.  Plotwise, the film is fairly predictable but George C. Scott, Season Hubley, and Peter Boyle all give excellent performances.  (The scenes were Scott pretends to be a porn producer are especially memorable, with Scott perfectly capturing Jake’s discomfort while also subtly suggesting that Jake is enjoying himself more than he wants to admit.)  And, even if you see it coming from miles away, the film’s ending will stick with you.