I was tempted to title this story 'Blame Meryl Streep' as it was with Meryl the post was birthed. Having struggled to get through a few of Streep's last few movies, I have been wondering why she is picking certain projects. I cannot be the only one who gave up before Hope Springs actually sprung to life??? I decided to go back and watch some of her early movies. Some like Kramer Vs Kramer, I knew and loved, but surprisingly, there were several I had not seen. I started with The Seduction of Joe Tynan, then Manhattan and then, the Streep movie that led me here, 1978's The Deer Hunter.
I loved The Deer Hunter, I loved the 70's vibe, the focus on character and acting and the story. Streep was breathtakingly beautiful in this film and her acting, perfect as usual. The movie was difficult to watch at times, especially during the scenes in Vietnam, but Streep, Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken (looking pretty hot himself) put in such strong performances that I was riveted from beginning to end.
It was in the beginning of the film that I first saw his face. The Deer Hunter begins with A Wedding. The wedding was a lavish one, filmed over five days in the St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. The face that caught my attention was that of Steven, the groom. The face not only had an impact here, I knew I it had previously made an impact in another film, but I couldn't quite put it all together. It bugged me until I got online and headed to IMDB.
The face belongs to actor John Savage, and The Deer Hunter is but one of 174 acting credits John has to his name. Most I had not seen, but in going over John's IMDB page, I had seen a few, including Hair, the movie I remembered John from. I didn't connect at first, as John has such sexy, shaggy long hair, but in Hair, it was shaved short for his role as Claude Hooper Bukowski. John had many memorable moments in Hair, including his nude scene during the White Boys/Black Boys song.
Between The Deer Hunter and Hair, I was hooked, besides his talent, and his raw sex appeal, John Savage became someone I had to learn, and see more of. I am not sure it is possible to write about John without questioning why he isn't a much bigger star. To answer would be to assume the question has validity, but really it doesn't. John Savage has 174 paid acting credits, 3 producer credits and has worked steadily on film an don television since 1969. John Savage also has a no less than 14 projects in production or due for release over the next 12-24 months. Not sure about star, but those stats speak to him being one of Hollywood's longest, hardest working and most of all, successful working actors.
Below: 1970- With Judy Gibson Off Broadway in Sensations
Later films include Oliver Stone's Salvador (1986) and Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather: Part III (1990) in place of Robert Duvall (who refused to appear due to a salary dispute). During the late 80s, Savage threw his star power behind the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. He continues to work despite his activism, including guest appearances in "The X Files" (1993), "Star Trek: Voyager" (1995), "Dark Angel" (2000) and various "Law & Order" episodes. He first collaborated with director Spike Lee as the bike-riding gentrifier in Do the Right Thing (1989), and then shifted to the camera's other side for Malcolm X (1992) and Summer of Sam (1999). He also had a brief, but powerful, role in Terrence Malick's war epic, The Thin Red Line (1998).
So.... I had of course, go go on the hunt to see more John. I started with an Amazon order with some titles that stood out, The Onion Field, Maria's Lover's and The Killing Kind, a film, whose premise both intrigued me and turned me off. See more of The Killing Kind in a follow-up post below.
Young Terry Lambert returns home from serving a prison term for a gang-rape he was forced to participate in.
He seeks revenge on his lawyer and the girl who framed him. But his real problem is his overbearing mother, whose boarding house he resides in and who keeps bringing him glasses of chocolate milk.
One of her boarders, Lori, becomes attracted to him. However, while he was serving his prison sentence, Terry developed an interest in rough, violent sex, and gory death. Now, one by one, some of the town's women pop up dead.
I hate violent movies. I also hate movies that use rape as entertainment, but I cut this film some slack as it was 1973. After watching a few minutes on Youtube (where the film exists in it's entirety), I placed an order with Amazon! I loved The Killing Kind! It was silly, scary, violent and full of 70's camp. So bad it was good. A mix of Baby Jane, Showgirls and every other cult movie that you groan and enjoy all at the same time.
I was not familiar with Ann Sothern's work, but as Terry's overbearing, enabling and incestuously inclined mother, she is a hoot to watch. John Savage is manages to be creepy, scary and yet wildly sexy, just ask the woman next door....
Directer Curtis Harrington is considered one of the forerunners of New Queer Cinema, and his list of films begs checking out! Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, Queen of Blood, How Awful About Allan, What's the Matter with Helen?, The Dead Don't Die and especially Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? are all titles that have peaked my interest!