Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Only now does it occur to me... BREWSTER'S MILLIONS

Only now does it occur to me... that despite the trappings of a mainstream, non-Walter Hillish 80s comedy, Walter Hill manages occasionally to put his stamp on BREWSTER'S MILLIONS.

Based on a 1902 novel, BREWSTER'S MILLIONS has been adapted to film on ten occasions, and though it's verily brimming with socio-political ideas for a zany 80s comedy and I did indeed enjoy it, it's far from being a "great" movie.  It doesn't have any buddy cops, Western gunslingers, street gangs, or Carradines; there's no Brion James, no James Remar, and not even a hint of David Patrick Kelly (aka DPK, aka "War-eh-orrs, come out and play-yee-yay!").  Nonetheless, here are four things about the film which are extremely "Walter Hillish":

#1.  Ry Cooder soundtrack.  Though much of his oeuvre sounds exactly the twangy-same, Cooder (probably best known for his work on PARIS, TEXAS and alongside greats like Clapton, Captain Beefheart, Van Morrison, and the Doobie Brothers) generally puts together solid soundtracks for Walter Hill.  Other Hill works include: THE LONG RIDERS, SOUTHERN COMFORT, STREETS OF FIRE, CROSSROADS, JOHNNY HANDSOME, "The Man Who Was Death" episode of TALES FROM THE CRYPT, TRESPASS, GERONIMO, and LAST MAN STANDING.

#2.  Ric Waite cinematography.  I've sung his praises before, but he often lenses evocatively smoggy, neon-soaked city-scapes and crisp daylight shots with a warm color palette and an indescribably "80s" feel.  I'd compare him certainly to Gary Kibbe, the latter-day John Carpenter cinematographer (from PRINCE OF DARKNESS in 1987 to GHOSTS OF MARS in 2001).  Other Hill works include:  48 HRS., THE LONG RIDERS, and the Hill-produced BLUE CITY.

#3.  Peter Jason!  Also a favorite of John Carpenter, Peter Jason's often pompous supporting parts are a staple of the 1980s.  Here he plays a pompous newscaster.  Other Hill works include:  DEADWOOD, the bartender in 48 HRS., UNDISPUTED, RED HEAT, STREETS OF FIRE, WILD BILL, JOHNNY HANDSOME, and the PERVERSIONS OF SCIENCE episode, "Dream of Doom."

 #4.  Torchy's.  The spectacular dive bar which recurs in so many Walter Hill movies (THE DRIVER, STREETS OF FIRE, 48 HRS., etc., etc.) is back! 
At this point, it's like seeing an old friend.  We've seen Eddie Murphy cause a ruckus there, Diane Lane perform there, Bruce Dern interrogate Ryan O' Neal there...  ah, you've got to love it.

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