Little, Big and Angry Men
This week in Blu Releases: Three classic films from directors who have made their own unique impacts on the world of cinema. One is a 90s trippy crime caper-comedy, the second, a 70s revisionist Western-adventure, the third, a 50s court potboiler. Although their content is entirely unrelated, what they do share is cinematic storytelling at its finest.
This Coen Brothers film was a sleeper that went on to become a world famous cult classic about an ex-surfer/hippie dropout whose main interests in life are drinking White Russians (he calls em “Caucasians”) smoking pot and bowling…
The Big Lebowski (1998) His birth name is Jeffrey Lebowski but he goes by the mellow moniker “The Dude”. Star Jeff Bridges seemed to be born to play this role with his easygoing personality and that’s a big reason why people love it so much. The Dude could be be best described a mixture of Phillip Marlowe (the film is loosely based on Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep) and Cheech and Chong. After his beloved rug is peed upon, The Dude finds himself involuntarily used as a pawn in a money scheme set in motion by the other Jeffrey Lebowski (David Huddleston) a rich philanthropist who despises deadbeats like El Duderino. The Coens’ eccentric characters and memorable dialogue have made this movie a treasure for fans of their work. Out of their special passion for the movie, devotees have even started a yearly Lebowski Fest. Co-starring John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore, Sam Elliot and John Turturro. NOTE: This is the second Blu Ray edition of the film, there’s a standard BluRay and a limited edition.
Little Big Man (1970) Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde) directed this humourous revisionist western epic about an man named Jack Crabb (Dustin Hoffman) who tells the story of his unique life (in a Forrest Gump type fashion) to a reporter. Crabb recounts stories about how he came to meet several famous people on his adventures including “Wild Bill”; Hickock (Jeff Corey) and General George Custer (Richard Mulligan). Although the comedy is ever present, the film also takes a serious look at the treatment of the American Indians during the Civil War. This film, along with others such as Ralph Nelson’s Soldier Blue were largely anti-establishment works that portrayed the US military in a negative light and were used as a commentary on The Vietnam War which was raging at the time. Little Big Man is a gem of early 70s Hollywood filmmaking and features another memorable performance from acting chameleon Dustin Hoffman who holds the record for portraying such an extensive age span onscreen. He plays Crabb from 17 y/o to 121! Co-starring Faye Dunaway, Chief Dan George, Martin Balsam.
12 Angry Men (1957). The late great Sidney Lumet’s directorial debut was a furiously intense court drama set in one room where 12 jurors must figure out if a young boy accused of murdering his father is guilty or innocent. The direction is taut, the performances sharp as switchblades and features several great character actors you’ll certainly recognize if you love classic movies. The story is really about these men and how their prejudices and backgrounds direct the outcome of the judicial procedure. Starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam. This film stands up so well because of its timeless quality which people from any generation can watch and get into the story.