Before he was acting in Blade movies, Kris Kristofferson worked with some of the best directors of American Cinema. There's not an actor out there who wouldn't love to have worked with the same people. But acting was Kristofferson's second career, and it almost ended in 1980. The man's life will be the subject of an interesting movie someday.
Kristofferson got his master's degree in English literature from Oxford University. Then he joined the army and became a helicopter pilot. After all that, he decided to enter the music business. He made his big break by landing a helicopter in Johnny Cash's yard and personally handing the singer some of his tapes. He later lost his helicopter license for passing out drunk at the controls. He quit drinking in 1976.
His career as a recording artist never lived up to its potential. Other people made hits recording his songs, from Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson to Janis Joplin, but Kristofferson's own recordings never sold as well as others'.
In 1971, he appeared in The Last Movie, a Dennis Hopper disaster that was supposed to be the sequel to Easy Rider. From there he worked with Paul Mazursky in Blume in Love, Martin Scorsese in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, in the Frank Pierson scripted 2nd remake of A Star Is Born, in Michael Richie's Semi Tough, and with Sam Peckinpah three times in Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, and Convoy. Upon the massive financial debacle that was 1980's Heaven's Gate, director Michael Camino and Kristofferson bore the stigma of failure and came close to ending their careers completely. In 1996, Kristofferson finally shook the reputation with a chilling performance as the sheriff in John Sayles' Lone Star.
Kristofferson turns 70 this June, and has taken to smaller roles in major productions, most notably the Blade series, Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes, and Brian Helgeland's Payback.
The Pick of the Week:
This week's pick is Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. There is a warning to this: Sam Peckinpah's violence is unforgiving and ruthless. In many other Westerns, killing is heroic, if not a way of life; in a Peckinpah film killing is portrayed as the brutal act of violence it is.
That being said, this is an overly sentimental Western of two old friends, one hunting for the other. The West is changing at the turn of the century, and the lawless are giving way to the landowners and the ranchers. Pat Garrett is an outlaw turned lawman, and he is assigned to bring in Billy the Kid, who is determined not to give up his lifestyle.
About halfway through the film, Poe, Garrett's deputy makes his statement on the state of The Old West: "Country's gotta make a choice. Time's over for drifters and outlaws and those who got no backbone."
To which Garrett responds: "I'm gonna tell you this once: I don't want to have to say it again. This country's getting old. I aim to get old with it. Now, the Kid don't want it that way. He might be a better man for it. I ain't judging. But I don't want you explaining nothing to me. And I don't want you saying nothing about the Kid and nobody else in my damn county."
Coburn, who turned up also in this week's Hard Times, plays Pat Garrett, in what was perhaps is best role. Kristofferson shines as Billy the Kid, and Peckinpah even manages to find use for Bob Dylan. The scene with Dylan's "Knocking at Heaven's Door' is one of Peckinpah's best.
I watched another 11 DVDs this week. 108 DVDs in 92 days gets me to only 428 for the year. I have 273 days left to watch 392 DVDs. 10.05 per week, and I'll get it. Still not under that 10 per week that I would like to achieve.
Some of the followers of this project have suggested films to me. l've added them to my queue, while dumping other films. You're also welcome to email me with ideas for what to dump.
Stephen Brophy suggested two films. The first, You Can Count On Me, I had rated "not interested" on my list. Brophy exclaimed, "Dude, you HAVE to see this. You are crazy! It's a great movie." Of The Last Picture Show he says "If you haven't seen it, you must should oughta do it now." Gone is Trancers and Undeclared's Bonus Disc.
Chris McVicker suggested two movies to me. The first one was Rockers, which he said was based on my review of The Harder They Come. He says it's "grittier." The second one was Pat Garett and Billy the Kid, based on my numerous western reviews, and which turned out to be my pick of the week. I removed The Wild Bunch: Special Edition, which I thought I had already watched, and Bat Whispers, a film from 1930.
Stephen Virgilo suggested Kung Fu Hustle. He didn't say why. I assume he just liked it a lot. I've liked a lot of martial arts films, so I added it in. I took out the Leni Riefenstahl starred S.O.S. Iceberg.
As it turns out, I hadn't seen The Wild Bunch: Special Edition. I watched The Magnificent Seven. I guess this whole thing is rotting my brain. So I put it back in, and dumped a horror movie that I forgot what it was. Yes, my brain is rotten.