Blind Spot Series 2017: Peeping Tom (1960)

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Peeping Tom (1960)
Produced and directed by Michael Powell
Written by Leo Marks
Cinematography by Otto Heller
Edited by Noreen Ackland
Music by Brian Easdale
Studio Canal Vintage Classics/Optimum Home Entertainment 50th Anniversary Blu-ray (1:41)

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(For more on the Blind Spot Series, please visit The Matinee.)

For many years, perhaps even as a child, I had heard of Peeping Tom discussed in hushed whispers among a handful of adults, although I’m not sure if any of them had actually seen the film, certainly not in central Mississippi where I grew up. It was never a film I had rigorously sought out, but the title (apart from the cultural phrase itself) drifted through the air from time to time, landing on my adolescent ears. Otherwise I knew little about the film, who starred in it, when it was released, and especially (to my disappointment) at what level of salaciousness it operated.

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Underworld, U.S.A. (1961) Samuel Fuller

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Underworld, U.S.A. (1961)
Written, produced and directed by Samuel Fuller
Based on articles in The Saturday Evening Post 1956 by Joseph F. Dinneen
Cinematography by Hal Mohr
Filmstruck (1:39)

“We’ve got a right to climb out of the sewer and live like other people.”

The filmography of Samuel Fuller isn’t exactly a blind spot for me, but rather a blurry one. I have seen only five of Fuller’s films and although I’ve found them all interesting, I’m not quite sure what it is about his work that makes them so different and compelling. Maybe I’ll discover that as I’m exploring Underworld, U.S.A.

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Vision Quest (1985) Harold Becker

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Vision Quest (1985)
Directed by Harold Becker
Produced by Joh Peters, Peter Guber
Screenplay by Darryl Ponicsan
Based on the novel Vision Quest by Terry Davis
Cinematography by Owen Roizman
Music by Tangerine Dream
Warner Bros. DVD (1:47)

I first saw Vision Quest shortly after it appeared on cable TV, probably in late 1985 or early 1986. The film resonated with me for several reasons, primarily because I believed I was on my own vision quest. It was my first year of teaching and I found my own drive mirrored in Louden Swain’s quest to defeat the toughest wrestler in the state. I wanted not only to be a great teacher, a great band director, but I wanted to be great early in my career, so great that people would think I’d been teaching somewhere else for years. In my mind, Vision Quest was nothing short of a call to action. How did that turn out for me? Keep reading.

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Doctor Strange (2016) Scott Derrickson

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Doctor Strange (2016)
Directed by Scott Derrickson
Produced by Kevin Feige
Written by Joh Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
Based on the Doctor Strange comics by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
Cinematography by Ben Divis
Music by Michael Giacchino
Disney DVD – library (1:55)

Yes, it’s another Marvel origin story, but this one’s a little different. First of all, unless you’ve read the Doctor Strange comics (created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko), you probably don’t know the beginnings of the Master of the Mystic Arts. I’ll give you the short version that doesn’t take half an hour: brilliant surgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is also an insufferable jerk who’s far more interested in himself than the people he’s sworn to help. After a horrible automobile accident, Strange’s hands are so damaged that he can no longer perform surgery. Seeking a cure, he finds himself in Kathmandu seeking the healing of The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). There he finds… Well, you want to see the movie, don’t you?

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