Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the New Year's Links

Thousand Pieces of Gold
Happy New Year to all the contributors and all you readers of these reviews and citations of (mostly) overlooked examples of audio/visual (or in some cases audio or visual) presentation, ranging from convention (and active sculpture) to the most common citations of films and television drama. As with most such lists of links, even on a non-holiday, there might be additions over the course of the day...and, as always, if I've overlooked yours or someone else's post, please let me know in comments. Thanks. (*and a late addition gives us a third go at The Late Show, with Art Carney.)
The Couch

Bill Crider: The Big Country [trailer] opening theme

Brian Arnold: "Gift of Ages"

B V Lawson: Media Murder

Dan Stumpf: The Couch

David Ehrlich: The 10 Most Overrated Films, 2012

Ed Gorman and Greg Ferrara: The Late Show*

Elizabeth Foxwell: The Limping Man

Evan Lewis: Suspense: "Pearls are a Nuisance" (radio adaptation of the Chandler story)

George Kelley: 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief

Frederik Pohl: ChicagoScope: Frederik Pohl at WindyCon

Iba Dawson: 2012 in Review

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Don Winslow of the Navy
Remember the Night
Jack Seabrook: John Collier on TV: "De Mortuis" (Alfred Hitchcock Presents:)

Jackie Kashian: The LA Auto Show

James Reasoner: Frequency

Jeff Flugel: The Late Show*

Jerry House: New Year's 1955, The Jack Benny Program (tv); Officer 13

John Charles: Morirai a mezzanotte (aka You Will Die at Midnight)
The Maverick Queen

Kate Laity: Hogmanay Song

Laura: Stalag 17

Lawrence Person: Gojira Tannenbaum

Lucy Brown: Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

Marty McKee: Most Wanted (1976 tv series)

Max Allan Collins: Most Favored/Least Favored Films 2012

Patti Abbott: Remember the Night

Prashant Trikannad: Bollywood remakes

Randy Johnson: The Maverick Queen

Rick: Top 10 Posts: 2012

River of No Return
Rod Lott: Goke, Body-Snatcher from Hell

Ron Scheer: River of No Return

Scott Cupp, Joe Lansdale, et al.: Weird Westerns

Sergio Angelini: 2013 Book to Movie Challenge

Stacia Jones: January Movies to Watch For

Stephen Bowie: Dorothy (1979 tv); Rod Serling's Carol for Another Christmas and more

Steve Lewis: Swordfish
The Snow Walker
Todd Mason: The Snow Walker; Thousand Pieces of Gold (please see below)

Walter Albert: Nevada (1927) (Ron Scheer on the remake)

Yvette Banek: Five Favorite Mission: Impossible Episodes

Thousand Pieces of Gold

The Snow Walker is in several ways a follow-up to Never Cry Wolf.  Like the latter film, this is based on the writing of Canadian naturalist, activist and fictioneer Farley Mowat, in this case a short story rather than a memoir; both films involve survival on the tundra/taiga in the Northwest Territories (before Nunavut was carved out of that vast expanse to the east of Yukon and to the north of the western to central provinces, including British Columbia's eastern portions, Saskatchewan and Alberta), this one was directed by Charles Martin Smith (rather than starring him), and both deal with culture clashes and willful blindness on the part of people, in government and otherwise, who find it a bit troublesome to live up to their responsibilities. In 1953, a rakehell Canadian WW2 veteran pilot (played by Barry Pepper) is working for a puddle-jumper airline in Yellowknife, the largest city (or large town) in NWT, when on a routine flight to deliver oildrums and with the intention of trying to barter some Coca-Cola for ivory in a sidetrip, changes plans when an Inuit family offers him some ivory to take their apparently tubercular, if not yet bedridden, adult daughter (Annabella Piugattuk) back to Yellowknife for treatment. Unfortunately, particularly since he doesn't radio ahead his change in flightplan, the engine in his little seaplane fails catastrophically, and they crash, not fatally except to the plane, which seems beyond repair. While the film intermittently documents the efforts of the pilot's colleagues and the federal search and rescue teams to find him--as his boss (James Cromwell) notes ruefully to his most local womanfriend (Kiersten Warren), the search teams have a perfect record--they never find anyone, most of the action details the stranded duo's attempts to survive and find some way out of the middle of nowhere they've landed in...while they have to cope with her worsening illness (as the pilot early on notes to himself more than asking her, she has good and bad days) and his ignorance of survival tactics in this environment...though he's an improving student as the days turn into months, and they have to make their best effort to reach other people before the approaching winter kills them. The film doesn't shrug off the dire nature of their situation, but is not the utter tragedy that it could easily be. I caught it on the pay-cable station Flix, a subsidiary of CBS/Showtime.
Lalu Nathoy/Polly Bemis 
(1853-1933) in later years

Thousand Piece of Gold is a film I need to see again, having not seen it since it was broadcast on PBS as part of American Playhouse, the often impressive series that offered both co-productions of films which got some arthouse play (such as this one) before broadcast, and other items that were seen solely as part of the series (entirely too many of them are not currently available, but this one seems to be accessible from iTunes, Netflix streaming, and a no-name subscription service that Verizon was unable to connect me to tonight, even if I was willing to blithely jump in with it...Verizon FIOS has a lot of kludgey aspects; home video release otherwise seems to have been limited to the VHS offer).  The story is of a young Chinese woman (played in the film pretty brilliantly by Rosalind Chao), sold into sexual servitude by her destitute father and brought to the US during the California gold rush as something less than a mail-order bride, and eventually finding herself in the company of a sympathetic Caucasian man, Charlie Bemis (Chris Cooper), who eventually becomes her husband.  Based on the life story of Lalu Nathoy (who eventually went by Polly Bemis), though as Ron Scheer notes in his comment, Nathoy had it (even) tougher in her life than the film suggests. Director Nancy Kelly notes her experiences with the film briefly here, and it's based on the biographical/historical novel written by Ruthanne Lum McCunn. Apparently this one has appeared on cable from time to time, as well...I'm going to have to spring for it in one format or another, but suspect my memory of its qualities is pretty solid.


Ron Scheer said...

I like both THE SNOW WALKER and 1000 PIECES OF GOLD. The real life story of the Chinese woman in the 2nd film is a good deal different from the movie. But the film version is grim enough.

Jerry House said...

I actually got one up for today: OFFICER THIRTEEN from 1932.

Thanks for continuing to compile these weekly gems, Todd.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks for so consistently contributing, Jerry...sorry I managed to miss yours just after 9a.

Thanks, Ron...one of the things I wanted to do, but haven't yet managed, was to read a good account of the protagonist's life in GOLD, to learn how closely the film hewed to the known facts, but it's an impressive film as I remember it (I've been looking around for it a bit...iTunes, I gather). THE SNOW WALKER is on recent rotation on pay cable in the US, but I managed to miss it entirely when it was released, even as I caught up with the Chao film when it was broadcast as an AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE.

Todd Mason said...

The films I saw in theaters in 2012, ranked in quality:


My top and bottom five. I didn't hate GAMES and didn't absolutely love SAFETY, but it was close in the latter case...a very amusing film. HUNTSMAN was pretty good, if a bit stiff, around Kristen Stewart, and this might be her best film after ADVENTURELAND that I've seen (it's not as though I've watched more than a few minutes of any TWILIGHT film on tv, though).

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Todd, I appreciate the inclusion of a previous post on films. Thanks very much and here's wishing you a wonderful new year again.

Todd Mason said...

Not at all, Prashant, and thank you, and happy new year, indeed, to us all.

Jeff Flugel said...

Got another one for you, Todd:


Happy New Year! By the way, I've passed on a Blogger of the Year Award 2012 to you...see my post at:


Gerard said...

I had not heard of Thousand or Snow Walker before.

Farley Mowat has been fascinating to me since I heard the audio of And No Birds Sang.

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, Jeff...I'll add yours in next week, and thanks also for the benison...

Gerard, yeah, Mowat's WOLF and THE DOG WHO WOULDN'T BE were easy to find when I was a kid...finding Mowat in the eventually anarchist journal OUR GENERATION (which started out as OUR GENERATION AGAINST NUCLEAR WAR) wasn't too surprising, later on...

Todd Mason said...

Hm. I'd forgotten what was probably the sixth film...

CELESTE AND JESSE FOREVER. Not too shabby, but easy to let slip from memory. Probably a bit better than SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS...and a little less impressive than KILLER JOE.

Rod Lott said...

Happy new year to you, too! And I don't thank you enough for continuing to link to select reviews. It is much appreciated, and I enjoy coming here for finds as well.

Todd Mason said...

No thanks necessary, really...thanks for contributing! (Well, linking to this weekly exercise never hurts...)