The Late Show (1977) Robert Benton


The Late Show (1977) (2x)
Written and directed by Robert Benton
Produced by Robert Altman, Scott Bushnell
Cinematography by Charles Rosher Jr.
Warner DVD – library (1:33)

The Late Show is a film I first saw when I was 15 years old, far too young to adequately appreciate it. I hadn’t gained enough life experience, hadn’t seen enough film noir, and felt as if its stars Art Carney and Lily Tomlin were trapped in a movie where they didn’t belong. To this 15-year-old mind, Carney belonged on reruns of The Honeymooners; Tomlin belonged on TV variety shows performing skits as Edith Ann and Ernestine the telephone operator. Yet here they were on the big screen in a… what? A comedy? A crime picture? To make things even weirder, I saw The Late Show in one of the strangest places you can see a movie: the theater of a cruise ship on the way to the Virgin Islands. At the time, I thought little about the movie. Now 40 years later, I embrace it as a rare gem.

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Sorcerer (1977) William Friedkin


Sorcerer (1977)
Directed by William Friedkin
Produced by William Friedkin, Bud Smith
Written by Walon Green (screenplay), Georges Arnaud (novel)
Cinematography by Dick Bush, John M. Stephens
Edited by Robert K. Lambert, Bud Smith
Music by Tangerine Dream
Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures
Warner Bros. Blu-ray (2:01)

Roy Scheider in William Friedkin's SORCERER (1977). Courtesy War

William Friedkin’s Sorcerer may be one of the most unjustly cursed films of all time. Not only did it have to complete with the initial release of the first Star Wars movie, the film featured only one recognizable star (Roy Scheider, above, in case you don’t recognize him), boasted a title that was misleading, contained some of the most destitute locales ever filmed, and suffered production mishaps that were, according to Kelly Vance in an article about the film, “near-biblical, rivaling even Francis Ford Coppola’s ordeals while shooting Apocalypse Now.” (“Sorcerer: Noir… or Not?”, Noir City Annual 2014, The Film Noir Foundation) Yet the film stands as a stunning example of film noir (thus answering Vance’s question – at least for me – with an assertive “yes.”).

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