This is a film I’ve heard about for many years and now finally it can be seen, thanks to Netflix streaming. Written by the great Terrence Malick a couple years before he directed his masterpiece Badlands, Deadhead Miles is a paean to the open road, a picaresque tale of two and eventually one traveler. That one traveler is played by Alan Arkin, a terrific performance and one of the weirdest Southern accents ever. Arkin is the driver of the big rig of destiny. Beautiful cinematography, 35mm, rich color,awe inspiring landscapes, 1971 locations make this movie a kind of low ball visual feast. And a cool country music score, by Tom T. Hall. A great supporting cast, including some real gems.
But the reason I knew about this movie is that a friend of mine worked on it. Bud Smith, great editor of such films as The Exorcist, Putney Swope, Cat People, Zoot Suit, Sorcerer, Personal Best and many other films, told me about his time on Deadhead Miles. Bud was hired to edit the film, he stayed in Los Angeles while the crew shot on location and sent the film back. Bud cut the film as it came in. At the end of the shoot the director took a few weeks off to recuperate from the rigors of a road movie. When he came into the editing room Bud was ready with his first cut of the movie. They screened it. The director said,” Can you take that all apart and put it back in dailies?” Bud said, ” You mean there’s nothing in there that you like?” ” Yes, that’s exactly what I mean.” “Well, I guess you got the wrong guy to work on your film.” And with that Bud left. Tony Bill , the producer, wisely duped Bud’s cut before having it disassembled and after a little while Mr. Bill fired the director. The new editor used Bud’s original cut for a lot of the film which then languished in obscurity until now. So check it out, a unique film.
Mike Kaplan, flanked by Two Giants Of Film, Abraham Polonsky on the left, Mike Hodges on the right
Mike Kaplan , a very cool film executive, filmmaker and all around maven reminisces about his days working with Stanley Kubrick : HERE
I am fortunate in having met Mr. Kaplan a few years ago through a mutual friend, Robert Downey Sr. Mike took Bob and me to a screening of Robert Altman’s excellent film The Player. Altman was there and was very gracious, Mike was working with him on the marketing of The Player. Mike also was instrumental in getting the wonderful Croupier released here in the US, an excellent film by the supercool Mike Hodges. It launched the career of Clive Owen. So check out Mike’s Tales of Kubrick, they’re great stories, insights into one of the 20th Century’s great Film Artists.
There was a great article in the New York Times this weekend about restoring Penn Staion Manhattan to it’s former glory. The original was razed in 1963, a horrible crime against the people of NYC, driven by greedy real estate interests.
I used to commute through that station and one evening while waiting for a train to arrive, I sat in the depressing waiting room and someone stole my hat from right next to me as I dozed off. I used to watch hookers steal slices of pizza from the little pizzeria in that same subterranean waiting area. Anyway it was an incredible work of Art, all girders and glass with a delicate filigree feel and I’m sure the people of the greater metropolitan NY area would benefit from it being restored. So I started thinking what films feature the station in it’s original state. Off the top of my head I came up with a couple. First Stanley Kubrick’s Killer’s Kiss, the film opens in Penn Station. And you can watch it in HD on Netflix streaming. Another great movie that used the location, The 10th Victim, the opening of this film is shot outside the recently demolished station, Ursula Andress runs by the rubble.
Ursula in front of another magnificent structure, an interesting contrast, in Rome they preserve the great edifices of the past, in the USA nothing is safe from the wrecking ball of Greed.
I will try to find some more examples of this magnificent structure captured in the celluloid time machine.