Steve McQueen Poster Gallery

When it comes to Steve McQueen I’m old enough to remember as a young boy he was a “star” and all of us kids knew who he was. We were totally aware of the fact that women liked the guy but to us he was just cool. We’d see him on afternoon television as one of the Magnificent Seven and as Papillon trying to get off Devil’s Island. I am pretty sure our family gathered around our furniture styled television to watch the network debut in two parts of the Newman-McQueen pairing The Towering Inferno. I am quite sure it looked something like this.

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Although his final two films, The Hunter and Tom Horn were not all that memorable I did hop onto a city bus and see them both at the theater and for that I am thankful as I wish I could say that about many other stars from the past.

“If you really knew how dirty and raggedy-assed the Old West was, you wouldn’t want any part of it.”

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McQueen: It’s out of control, and it’s coming your way. You got about fifteen minutes. Now, they wanna try somethin’. They wanna blow those water tanks two floors above you. They think it might kill the fire.

Newman:  [surveys room] How’re they gonna get the explosives up here?

McQueen : [after already having been given the task] Oh, they’ll find some dumb son of a bitch to bring it up.

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” I told you to cut that out! This isn’t a game! ”

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The only Oscar nomination in a film I watched repeatedly while growing up. “Holman come down!”

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“Listen, Christian, after the game, I’ll be The Man. I’ll be the best there is. People will sit down at the table with you, just so they can say they played with The Man. And that’s what I’m gonna be, Christian. ”

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“You got no business up here. When the Krauts come, they’ll capture you and pull your fingernails. Then you’ll tell them everything they want to know.”

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Now that I am getting older I realize just how young McQueen was when the world said goodbye.

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The Curse of the Werewolf (1961) Oliver Reed Fest Day 5.

It seems fitting to end my week of Oliver Reed flicks where it really all began for the notorious hell raiser. At Hammer studios where he was cast in the title role of the famed studios updating on the Universal Lon Chaney series helmed by their ace director Terence Fisher.

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Hammer departed from the legend of Lawrence Talbot and adapted the novel from Guy Endore titled The Werewolf of Paris then promptly relocated the story to Spain. The film kind of seems like two films in one and doesn’t follow the traditional bitten by a werewolf logic . It relies more on the superstitions of the “old country” and what leads to the birth of a child destined for evil things.

Playing very much like the flashback explaining the curse of Sir Henry Baskerville we are treated to the story of a beggar who happens upon the wedding day of a cruel Marquis played with a decided perverseness by Anthony Dawson. In the end the beggar winds up a prisoner in the castle dungeon. The jailer who oversees him eventually dies and his tiny mute daughter grows into the knockout figure of Yvonne Romain.

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The beggar is now a raving lunatic and with his overgrown hair looks something like a werewolf himself.

Worse yet is the aged Dawson as the Marquis. He’s decrepit looking and even at his advanced age has one thing on his mind. The busty figure of Romain. When she flees from his grasp she is thrown into the cell with the now lunatic beggar. With censorship what it was we are left to assume she’s been raped. Brought once more before Dawson she murders him in glorious bloody color and flees.

Rescued in the forests nearby she is taken in by Clifford Evans and his wife. She’s with child and we begin to hear the superstitious tales from Evans’ wife. The child has no father and is about to be born on Christmas day. It’s deemed as an insult to heaven which is why, “The girls stay away from the men in March and April.” Evans will have none of it. He’s soon to become a surrogate father when Romain dies in childbirth.

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Jumping ahead the boy is about 6 years old and Evans begins to realize he is a werewolf. Sheep are being killed and the boy catches a bullet that isn’t silver so he’ll recover. The local priest says it is love that will keep the beast dormant.

Enter Oliver Reed at the forty seven minute mark. The boy has grown into a young sturdy man.

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Hiring on at a winery (seems fitting if you know Ollie) he quickly falls in love with the Landlord’s daughter played by Catherine Feller. All is good till he has trouble securing her hand in marriage. The wolf is about to get nasty. In one night of bloodshed there are three corpses torn and mangled.

I’ll stop there as I hate giving away the endings and have probably given away too much already for the uninitiated.

As Reed was getting started here it’s notable that this was produced before the facial scars surfaced on his cheeks. He secured them in a drunken state when having a broken bottle thrust into his face. This role almost defined the brooding roles ahead. It was the time of the angry young man in British films and taking that and a bit of the Brando anger, Reed gave the role his best shot.

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Of all the Hammer “reboots” of the Universal films I have always felt this one proved the weakest. Perhaps the set up is just too long. It’s certainly not the make up design from Roy Ashton. Ashton worked on many of the Hammer creatures including the lesser known but great looking The Reptile and the dead in The Plague of the Zombies. He would also go on to do some of the Amicus horrors as well.

Plenty of the Hammer film regulars are here. Fisher directed all the “reboots” and of course company character actor Michael Ripper is in here as well. It always seemed as if he were playing a drunk or the bar keeper. Either way he usually ends up issuing a warning of the evil deeds that lay ahead.

Reed would hang around the studio for a number of films over the next few years before running off with Michael Winner and Ken Russell to do more “arty” titles. He appeared with beautiful Romain the following year in Night Creatures and again in The Brigand of Kandahar for Hammer. Years later he would serve as the narrator for the television series The World of Hammer which recapped the glory years of the legendary studio with legions of fans (Count me among them).

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Like the Lee-Cushing remakes, Werewolf freely splashed a healthy dose of blood in vivid red color across the screen. The British studio continued to push the limits and had to side step the sensors on a few issues once again with both the blood and the story line. It seems the Catholic Legion of Decency were threatening to ban the film. Doesn’t that usually cause a surge in box office?

As a champion of Hammer Horrors this is must see but of the initial remakes it’s the least interesting for me. But then there’s the cinematic birth for Reed which adds to it’s significance. The role has also given Reed a degree of fame through the world of fandom and magazines focusing on the horror history of film.

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Head on over to Speakeasy where Kristina has added to the Reed week once again with a Hammer title that she has always championed. It’s Ollie in one of the studios Hitchcock influenced thrillers and well worth a look as I am sure Kristina is going to do her best to convince you off.

Thanks for joining me all week as I looked back at a small handful of Oliver Reed titles. Hopefully I inspired you to go out and find more films from this one of a kind personality whose career ended on the set of Gladiator in 1999 thus having that Oscar winning film dedicated to him.

Castaway (1986) Oliver Reed Fest Day 4

I settled on revisiting this Reed film for a variety of reasons. I wanted to include something from the eighties that wasn’t necessarily from his years of low budget fodder. Also because this isn’t a role where he is relegated to playing a villain in some far off country. Lastly because I remember when this film was released it carried with it a bit of fanfare focusing on Reed returning to form in a serious minded movie from respected film maker Nicolas Roeg. I even recall the original novel the script was based on being re released with Reed and his costar Amanda Donohoe on the cover.

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In the opening scenes Oliver sporting a red beard with curly hair to match decides to post an add looking for a young woman to spend a year with him on a deserted isle off the coast of Australia. He’s looking for a 20 to 30 year old and like many middle aged men might do he scratches off his age of 45 and goes with 35 plus in reference to himself. As Amanda points out, “It’s the ultimate blind date.”

The courageous Donohoe answers the call and Ollie thinks he’s won a lottery when he gets a look at his partner in this life altering adventure. From their opening discussions over dinner the sexual innuendos and flirtations begin with a playfulness and in Oliver’s mind a hint of whats to come.

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Once they begin their journey they find they must be married due to immigration laws which doesn’t sit well with Amanda. After giving in they arrive on their island paradise. She will soon come to realize that Reed is totally unprepared for his dream vacation. Not only is he a poor provider but would much prefer lazing about as opposed to seeking or constructing proper shelter and searching for food and or fishing. The fact is it won’t be long before the two of them become malnourished. They soon find their bodies covered in open sores and through some rather bizarre trickery with body doubles, director Roeg gives us the impression at various points that they see themselves growing skinny with plenty of hanging flesh and wrinkled bellies.

In fact Reed begins to both physically resemble and act like a lost sailor stranded by himself on a desert island waiting for a pirate ship to come along and rescue the crazed refugee. The once romantic notions they both had of an ideal paradise quickly loses it’s luster as they fall out of wedded bliss and become more argumentative as the plot moves along. She attacks his lack of drive while he just isn’t “getting any.”

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The island does receive a few visitors including a couple of young men on a sailboat which creates some jealous moments and some missionaries who help bring our two island dwellers back to better health. Raining season and typhoons add to the drama of having mainly two stars carrying an entire film with some outstanding photography to add to it’s beauty.

Having seen this movie not long after it surfaced on VHS I admit to being disappointed at the time. I did see it a young age and was hoping I might appreciate it better since I am closer to Ollie’s age in the film. Ultimately I can’t say I liked it any better. I would be lying though if I didn’t admit to liking the central idea of Reed’s island fantasy. A beautiful young woman accompanying me to a secluded island where there is no need for clothing. And yes Amanda is topless most of the time and on more than one occasion is doing the full frontal. For those wondering if Reed gets to recall his nude wrestling scene from Women in Love, not quite the full monty this time.

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Director Roeg had worked with Reed previously in 1964 on The System where he served as cinematographer for Michael Winner. Castaway didn’t put Oliver back onto the A list of actors. Probably due more to his off screen antics as he showed here he was still capable of doing more than just scowl and look mean. Looking mean is pretty much what he would be doing in product far beneath him in the ensuing years other than a few bright turns in bigger films though in smaller roles. Baron Munchausen, Treasure Island opposite old friends Charlton Heston and Christopher Lee. Then of course a return to form in Gladiator.

Interestingly Donohoe would turn up in a Ken Russell film who was of course closely associated with Reed for their controversial films together. Most notably The Devils. Donohoe played the vampire queen for Russell in the outrageous Lair of the White Worm. If your not familiar with Amanda then you may recall her from the Jim Carrey hit Liar, Liar where she played his boss and apparently wasn’t all that good in the sack when he was forced to be honest about their night of passion.

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I guess I can’t fully endorse this one but for fans of Reed it should be added to your playlist to see him at a time when the roles were becoming one dimensional and rather stale. This role as Gerald Kingsland gave him something with range to play upon.

 

 

Crossed Swords (1977) Oliver Reed Fest Day 3.

If ever a film springs to life when Oliver Reed is on the screen it just might be this Richard Fleischer directed version of The Prince and the Pauper. For despite having a cast of top flight actors, it comes off somewhat flat when Ollie isn’t wielding a sword or barking at our supposed pauper Mark Lester. Then there is the dueling with the likes of baddies Ernest Borgnine and David Hemmings that puts Ollie right in his element calling to mind his previous successes with the Musketeer films.

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The Mark Twain story had been previously done with Errol Flynn in 1937 and this time out Reed is reunited with his Oliver! costar Mark Lester in the dual role. From the outset the plot is set with our Pauper a thief and the son of nasty Borgnine. Our other Lester is the heir to the throne and with Charlton Heston’s King Henry nearing his death it won’t be long before a new King is crowned. When our two Lester’s cross paths they switch places so that the true heir can go to a masquerade ball as a filthy pauper. It backfires and kindly member of the court Rex Harrison has him escorted and gently removed from the palace.

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Enter Oliver Reed as a guardian to the young street urchin who claims to be the true Prince and soon to be King. Reed thinks the boy a lunatic but refuses to let any harm come to him. Their adventures take them from crossing paths with Borgnine who wrongly claims the royal Lester as his own to George C. Scott who commands a group of poor derelicts in the bowels of the city.

When Heston dies the real Prince demands he be taken back to London to stop the “other Lester” from being mistakenly crowned. This leads to learning of Reed’s past and the wrongs done to him by his evil brother Hemmings and his longing for his lost love Raquel Welch. In fact Reed’s plight comes to mirror that of the displaced Prince.

Can they get to the coronation in time and stop Harry Andrews from placing the crown on the wrong Lester?

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With all the talent both on screen and off it’s Reed that breathes life into this often told tale. The film tries hard to duplicate the feel of the Richard Lester Musketeer films which featured not only Reed but Heston and Welch as well. Truly it doesn’t come close. Hard to swallow when you look at not only Fleischer directing but Jack Cardiff as the photographer and the script from George MacDonald Fraser. Fraser had also done the Musketeer scripts and the Flashman novels that resulted in the hilarious tongue and cheek Royal Flash that had also featured Ollie.

Borgnine, Scott and Heston had all worked prior to this swashbuckler with director Fleischer and Borgnine points out in his autobiography he’d have done anything for the director. He had already worked on both Barabbas and The Vikings with Fleischer.

Reed’s the whole show here but don’t expect too much from him in the first hour as it’s the last half of the film where his character takes over. Lastly it should be pointed out that when it comes to a “puffy shirt”, Jerry Seinfeld has got nothing on Oliver Reed.

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Please head over to Speakeasy where Kristina is joining me and featuring a rare “winner” of a comedy from the Reed catalogue in one of his collaborations with director Michael Winner.

Sitting Target (1972) Oliver Reed Fest Day 2

This so so gangland flick gives us something of a “what if.” To see Oliver Reed as a modern gangster in seventies London is a perfect bit of casting. He’s vengeful and dangerous to those around him as he seeks his justice. The “what if” comes from wishing the film was more memorable. Can you imagine him taking on a character like Harold Shand in The Long Good Friday? Looking back it’s too bad Reed never received a call to play a British gangster in the quality of the Bob Hoskins classic.

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With gangland thug Reed doing a fifteen year stretch for murder he’s told by wife Jill St. John that she won’t be back. She’s divorcing him and has a new man in her life. Topping that she’s also pregnant. Ollie promptly puts his hand through the glass pane separating them as his temper overtakes him. He swears he’ll get out and kill both her and her lover. So sets the stage for this violent Douglas Hickox directed film released through MGM studios.

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Reed teams with fellow inmates and syndicate men Ian McShane and Freddie Jones to stage a daring escape from their prison home. It’s well executed and has a couple harrowing clips as they encounter dogs and swinging ropes.

Once over the wall Reed and McShane go their own way allowing the screenwriter to omit Jones from the balance of the film. First up is Reed getting his hands on a high powered gun to take out the former love of his life.

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Assigned to the case of putting our thugs back behind bars is Edward Woodward. He’s sticking to Jill St. John as he awaits the inevitable force of Reed. On the first encounter things don’t quite go Ollie’s way and he’s off with McShane to get monies owed to him from fellow Musketeer Frank Finlay. This gives the producers the opportunity to squeeze in attractive Jill Townsend as Frank’s mistress. It also allows McShane’s slimy mobster an opportunity to take what he wants.

Reed’s run of bad luck continues when the Finlay episode concludes but with some choppy story telling both he and McShane are off to do one last deed before they flee the country. Reed has to kill St. John and her lover. Let’s just say Ollie’s character is mostly brawn with little brains. You’ll have to tune in to figure it all out.

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Director Hickox had a short run of films in the seventies that are worth noting. Brannigan, Zulu Dawn and the must see Vincent Price black comedy Theater of Blood. Serving as editor was John Glen who would go from the editing room on to becoming a director of Bond films including Octopussy and The Living Daylights.

Aside from Reed there is a solid cast here with Bond girl Jill St. John and Ian McShane who still commands respect on screen to this day. Both Finlay and Freddie Jones are character actors that add a little extra something to the films we’ve encountered them in over the years. So it’s a plus having them here brief as it might be. Then there is Woodward who would very soon have a date with The Wickerman.

While McShane smiles his way through Sitting Target it’s Reed whose presence commands your attention whenever he’s on screen. From the opening shots in his cell to the very last at the fadeout. It should also be noted that the infamous scars on Reed’s face suit the gangland character he’s bringing to us in this forceful portrait of a vengeful mobster.

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While no classic or Get Carter it’s still Reed in an intimidating role that he was so good at. This one is out there through the Warner Archive line and therefore has found a spot on my shelf.

The Brood (1979) Oliver Reed Fest. Day 1

David Cronenberg meets the ferocious whispering of Oliver Reed.

To start my mini fest of Oliver Reed films I thought it best to start with a film he made right here in my native homeland. It was produced in the Toronto area of Canada with one of our countries most acclaimed film makers.

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Ollie stars here as a rather self serving psychiatrist of sorts who is dabbling in what is termed as psycho plasmics. He is utilizing people with severe mental hangups for his own gain in developing and proving his theories. When talking to his patients he takes on the being of those that have brought issues and conflicts into his patients past. It could be an abusive Father or lost lover. The results are that the patients experience physical defects of some sort as their distress or anger comes forward emotionally. Hence the book “The Shape of Rage” which is prominently displayed throughout the film.

In his care is Samantha Eggar who is married to Art Hindle. They have a small daughter and are separated while she lives at a retreat in Oliver’s care. While there we begin to learn that she had a tormented childhood with an abusive Mother and an alcoholic Father who turned a blind eye to the beatings. While these “therapy” sessions are going on both her parents are brutally murdered by  a small disfigured childlike creature.

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The police are not sure what to make of it and hubby Art Hindle believes that Reed is no good and hiding something. He then begins to seek out past patients and doesn’t like what he finds. When another bloody slaying takes place, Hindle is convinced that Eggar and Reed are somehow connected. To make matters worse his daughter has been abducted by two of these strange beings.

Following his instincts he heads right to Reed’s clinic where he confronts the good doctor. Oliver seems distressed himself and we the audience along with Hindle are about to discover why Eggar is Ollie’s star pupil. It’s all headed towards a gross out finale with a terrifying scene involving the little girl that Reed and Hindle are trying to save.

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While I have never been a huge fan of Cronenberg films in general I have seen most of them. This is probably the first of his efforts I did see  back in the VHS era. The reason at the time was it had Ollie leading the cast.

By this time Oliver was no stranger to being cast in films made in Canada. Just the year previously he had starred opposite Raymond Burr and John Ireland in Tomorrow Never Comes that had been filmed in Quebec. Both of those gentleman were of course born in Canada as well. He’d also appeared in the 1966 effort The Trap which had been filmed in B.C. He would once more return to the Toronto area to film a low budget shocker with Peter Fonda titled Spasms released in 1983.

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This thriller represents a good look at a horror film from the era of it’s production and a definite departure from the typical plots of the day . It’s different therefore imaginative. Eerie and with the solid presence of Reed involved it’s well worth seeking out for not only the Cronenberg fans but horror fans in general who like the style that isn’t an upscale Hollywood slasher film. It has that George A. Romero feel to it at times if I can use that as a parallel. Slashers were about to invade the theaters in droves after the recent success of Carpenter’s classic Halloween. Along came Jason and the rest shortly there after.

The Brood, Cronenberg and Reed take us in a totally new direction in horror at the time. Give it a look if you already haven’t.

 

 

 

Oliver Reed Interviews

With my focus on Oliver Reed films beginning shortly I went in search of some interesting appearances.

While there are plenty of Oliver Reed interviews available where he is well in his cups it is refreshing to see him discuss his career and how he goes about his craft while coherent and sober. I much prefer watching these snippets of Dear Ollie as opposed to the rather embarrassing drunken clips that seem to flood the internet. He’s very engaging and displays a wonderful sense of humor in these clips. Take the time to enjoy.

Here is one where he takes the stage and pokes a bit of fun at Richard Attenborough seated next to him.

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How about a trailer to Reed’s 1974 film The Three Musketeers. Check out the cast and know that Oliver was top billed. This one is a must see for those that haven’t had the chance or taken the time.