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Walter Hill, an appreciation

While I’ll fully admit a healthy diet of VH-1 Classic’s “Metal Mania” videos this morning put me in a perfect 80s mood, a time when rock & roll and action movies didn’t take themselves so seriously, Bullet to the Head maintained that mood with a perfect combo of unapologetically senseless violence and usually corny one-liners humor. Like the Expendables movies, a cool throwback to when popcorn movies delivered these escapist themes. Also a sad reminder Walter Hill, a director who helmed a good chunk of personal favorites through the years, hasn’t been behind the camera for anything besides an episode of “Deadwood” and the “Broken Trail” mini-series in more than a decade. I say, damn shame. Threedonia, what say you?

Classics
Hard Times — Charles Bronson as a Depression-era streetfighter and James Coburn. Do I honestly need an explanation for Hill’s directorial debut? Wellllll, OK.
48 HoursThe buddy-cop action/comedy by which I still judge all others. Even Lethal Weapon a thisclose second in my book.
Streets of Fire — Michael Pare, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, Willem Defoe and others having a campy good time. Also features the above song, an all-time fave.
The Warriors — 1970s New York minus the above-mentioned Bronson as a vigilante. Cue the baseball bats …
Crossroads — In this category for the music — the glorious, glorious music — only. Memories of my high school crush on Jami Gertz probably doesn’t hurt, either.
Brewster’s Millions — Under-appreciated Pryor and Candy performances. Will always stop flipping channels and watch this to the end whenever on TV. Come to think of it, I really need to get this movie off my Amazon wish-list.

Not-quite classic (but close)
Last Man Standing — Liked it so-so when it came out, but has gotten much, much better with age.
Trespass — There are better things than assembling Ices T and Cube with William Sadler and Bill Paxton, with a script from Bobs Gale and Zemeckis. See above classics. Still a damn fine li’l popcorn movie, though. Even better being part of an audience opening weekend, the Porvaznik brothers the only honkeys in the theatre.
Bullet to the Head

Meh
Red Heat — Ummmm, I remember liking Jim Belushi, and that’s about it.
Geronimo: An American Legend and Undisupted — Like the other movie in this category, decent concepts with not-so-memorable deliveries.

Craptastic
Another 48 Hours — Not even the mighty Brion James could rescue Murphy and Nolte going through the motions almost as badly as Ghostbuster 2 ‘s returning cast.

Haven’t seen
The Driver
Southern Comfort

Wild Bill — Wait, this has James Gammon in the supporting cast??? Need to get this on the “to-watch” list.
The Long Riders — Keaches and Carradines and Quaids and Guests? Oh, my, another for the “to watch” list.
Extreme Prejudice
Supernova

Screenplay/Writer Love
The Getaway — So maybe he shouldn’t have had his name attached to the re-make, but the McQueen/MacGraw original’s a classic.
Aliens — This movie’s awesome rep well-deserved, but no offense to James Cameron, really curious how Hill would have directed instead.

12 comments to Walter Hill, an appreciation

  • David Stein

    The clashes between Walter Hill and David Giler on one hand, and Dan O’Bannon on the other, during the filming of “Alien” are legendary. The blood was so bad between the two sides that, when O’Bannon helmed “Return of the Living Dead” in 1984, he had the crematorium inscribed as the “Hill and Giler Oven,” which can totally be seen if you freeze-frame the shot.

  • JimmyC

    Dude, you really need to check out Red Heat again, it seriously rocks.

    Wild Bill had its moments, but it was oddly dull and pointless. Avoid Supernova at all costs- it’s so bad that Hill actually took his name off of it.

  • David Stein

    I just re-read the list. You haven’t seen Southern Comfort??? And you call yourself a Brion James fan? He KILLS in that film as a one-armed Cajun. The scene where he reloads his gun one-armed style is classic. It’s a really, really good movie, with one of the most skillfully-crafted endings I’ve seen, in which life-and-death tension is played out against a backdrop of a wild Cajun party filled with insanely catchy singing and music. You gotta see that one, Eric!

    • Duly noted and consider Southern Comfort on the top of the “to watch” list. Also noted re. Red Heat, JC. Saw it during my ambivalent to action movies phase in high school. Not sure how my now knowing Russian will factor in, but will re-watch nonetheless.

  • Matt Helm

    Southern Comfort and The Long Riders are Hill’s best. Hill’s mentor was Sam Peckinpah, and it shows in these two gems.

  • You must MUST see The Long Riders… come for the brothers and stay for the kick-ass Ry Cooder soundtrack…

    Southern Comfort… Deliverance with National Guardsmen and without the anal rape… it’s about Vietnam dontchaknow… but it’s at core a celebration of the need to carry live ammo.

  • Extreme Prejudice is also good. Kind of a mix between The Border (the Jack Nicholson Border patrol movie) and Last Man Standing

  • El Gordo

    Extreme Prejudice oozes so much testosterone, I blame it for my back hair.

  • Texacalirose

    Y’all know I love me some Long Riders.

    [Cole Younger and Sam Starr are about to fight over Belle]
    Cole Younger: What does the winner get?
    Belle Starr: Nothin’ both of you ain’t already had.
    Cole Younger: Don’t hardly seem worth it.
    Belle Starr: It ain’t. You’re both crazy, but you do keep me amused. I am having a real good time.

  • Scott M.

    Powers Boothe in Southern Comfort too!

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