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Monday, July 18, 2011

Payday


Here is a true underrated 70's sleeper hit if there ever was one. Everything I am about to say about it could simply be put in two words: SEE IT. Unless of course you are one of the following:
                                                                   
                                    A) Boring
                                    B) Don't like road movies
                                    C) All of the above

Its the only film I have seen that I can think of that has Rip Torn in a STARRING role and not a schlocky supporting character instead. Its not (overly) comedic either (sure he's hilarious, but he's more versatile that that folks) which shows the true range of his acting ability. Oh, and Shel Silverstein wrote the lyrics for some of the songs in the movie too! Watch the trailer, but ignore the note before it that says something about a bad trip down memory lane because the douche bag who uploaded it obviously never bothered to watch it or would have picked choice C on my anti road movie lover test:


Yes! See what you're in for!? What this trailer does not touch on is how Rip Torn's character Maury Dan is an alcoholic and a drug addict and frankly a fucking asshole. He uses abuses and throws away anyone who is either no longer useful to him or is useful to get him out of a scrape with the cops. What a piece of shit! This is what I love about road movies, living on the road the way he does (and any main character in a road movie for that matter) requires a very strange/disconnected/or seedy person. It also means there's obviously quite a of driving which means questionable things happening in the confines of an automobile (usually while its still driving).

Basically this film shows us the tail end and ultimate decline of Maury Dan's rather pitiful career. It all takes place over a span of three days and if you stop to think about it you realize that this characters life has been this way probably since the beginning. He's constantly driving from one gig to the next in search of a pay out that will keep him going just one more day. His shortsightedness and desperation is beyond tragic but he has been going on a downward spiral for too long to ever escape the event horizon and he knows it- and you the viewer know it too. There is no pretty sugar coating here, no fairy tale ending. You are seeing the man smolder from the opening until he bursts into flames by the time the credits roll. Just look at how he dumps his girlfriend:


Yikes! If that isn't cold blooded as hell I don't know what is. So I don't run the risk of giving the whole movie away in a fit of enthusiasm lets talk about the box art. The Thorn EMI version I used for this review has the best cover art for this release. If a bottle of whiskey, a guitar, a bunch of pills and piles of money don't sum the movie up to a tee then I will eat my shoe. The 1999 vhs and later dvd release is markedly inferior. Have a look/see:


See what I mean? Even the tag line is off (The Thorne EMI tape on the other hand has the proper theatrical release tagline intact!). There is no sign of Maury Dan being a mad man like the dvd cover says. From what I can tell he's just a boozer/junkie/alcoholic/womanizing/loser. But no matter what the cover looks like, the contents are pure cinematic gold make no mistake about that dear readers. This is a good case study for the lack of imagination that often accompanies dvd case artwork when compared to older vhs releases don't you agree? If you're half as smart and film savvy as I think all of you are you'll seek this one out post haste.

How did I come across such a diamond in the rough you ask? I found out about it because my older brother found it on DVD at a Big Lots and immediately told me I needed to see it. Considering we're basically the same person with five and a half years difference between us I knew I would like it no questions asked. When I see a film this good, I can only liken it to the difference between playing checkers and Russian roulette. I'm not going to explain what that means as those already in the know will find its meanings obvious if you are in tune with my way of thinking. Now that you are armed with the scant information you require, do yourself a favor and take in this mostly (and unfortunately) forgotten masterpiece.

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