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Monte Hellman (Read 32256 times)
Gashade
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Monte Hellman
08/01/11 at 11:03am
 
Although their films are quite different, I thought a topic about Monte Hellman wouldnīt be out of place in this blog, as Hellman was supposed to shoot Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and served as an editor on The Killer Elite. Peckinpah acted in his China 9, Liberty 37. Hellman was also a good friend of Warren Oates whom he cast in most of his films until Oatesī death in 1982.

Main filmography - DVDs
Beast from haunted cave - 1959
Roger Corman hired Monte Hellman after seeing his production of Waiting for Godot (which, once again, shows Cormanīs good taste). It was shot back to back (as was Cormanīs frequent policy) with Ski troop attack.
By no means a great film, it has some odd, interesting moments - it has often been noted that it could have called Beast from Platoīs cave...
It has been issued by various cheap companies dealing with public domain films, often in rather bad quality. The DVD I have is this one :
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Flight to fury - 1964
Another Roger Corman production. Hellman shot this with Jack Nicholson, back to back with Back door to hell, in the Phillipines, this one being the more interesting of the two. It has nice dialogues about death and a storyline which hints towards Hellmanīs later masterpieces.
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Back door to hell - 1964
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Ride in the whirlwind - 1965
Still another Roger Corman production. Hellman and Nicholson wanted Corman to produce a film they wrote called Epitaph which dealt with abortion. Corman found the script too "European" and offered to produce two westerns instead. Hellman shot this back to back with The Shooting. Both are, in my view, absolute masterpieces.
Tarantino called this one the five best westerns ever made. But I'm not sure I apreciate it for the same reasons as he does...
The DVD I have is part of a French box with The Shooting and Cockfighter, which also includes a wonderfull documentary called Plunging on alone, probably the best on Hellman, with a lot to say on filmmaking in general. I understand there are some american releases which could include Hellman's audio commentary. That would be interesting. Some advice, anyone?
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The Shooting - 1965
Hellman's first collaboration with Warren Oates. Absolutely great.

Two-Lane Blacktop - 1971
Another masterpiece. This one was shot for Universal as part of their project of five semi-independent small budget films, after the success of Easy Rider (the other films were The Last Movie, Taking Off, American Graffiti and Silent Running).
It has waited a long time for a home release because it has various songs for which Universal had not bought the video rights (Rolling Stones, Chris Kristofferson...). The first release was made by Anchor Bay:
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Itīs a great release with an interesting audio commentary, among other things (I have the limited edition in a tin box with a miniature car key chain).

Then came the definitive Criterion release:
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It has various interviews, including one with Chris Kristofferson, a new, different audio commentary, the original screen tests shot with Laurie Bird and James Taylor, the complete original script by Rudy Wurlitzer and other things.

In zone 2, there's a nice French release, whith several bonus material from the previous ones:
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Cockfighter - 1974
Another Roger Corman production. Warren Oates is playing the lead (same year as Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia). Not as good as the previous three pictures - Corman did not allow Hellman all the rewrites he wanted, and it shows : the best scenes are precisely the ones that have been rewritten, involving the main characterīs girlfriend.
The Anchor Bay release is probably the best, as, beside a nice audio commentary, it also includes the Across the border documentary on Warren Oates:
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China 9, Liberty 37 - 1978
An Italian production shot in Spain. Again, not as great as it could have been, but still a very interesting film. I'm not writing this because we're on a Peckinpah forum, but the whole film is actually given meaning by the caracter played by Peckinpah. It's the last film Hellman could make with Oates before his death. Hellman's next film is dedicated to him.
Itīs the only one I donīt have on DVD. Every release Iīve stumbled upon seemed of rather bad quality. Some advice anyone?

Iguana - 1988
There had been more overtly erotic scenes in Cockfighter and China 9, Liberty 37, which already hinted to Hellmanīs interest in a more open way of dealing with that kind of issues, as seen here. Also: Hellman's previous great films' strength often comes from the fact that they are elliptical, with rather few dialogues (in Cockfighter, Warren Oates' caracter has even made a vow of silence). We are shown things, instead of being told what to see. Here, there's suddenly a lot of dialogue. The film certainly did not benefit from the difficulties of shooting on an foreign island and on boats, and the budget could have been bigger, I guess...
Anchor Bayīs release is great with an interesting audio commentary:
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Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! - 1989
A direct to video film. The Silent Night, Deadly Night franchise is not a good one, and despite several nice touches, itīs rather sad to watch.
I have this release:
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Stanley's Girlfriend - 2006
Shot as part of the episode film Traped Ashes (with films by Sean Cunningham, Ken Russell and John Gaeta, and a wrapparound shot by Joe Dante). The fact that this is the best episode of the whole film doesnīt save it from its many problems. But itīs good to see Hellman dericting again.
The DVD I have includes Hellmanīs cut of Stanleyīs girlfriend, which is a little bit more interesting (it has a nice dialogue about Hiroshima and Nagasaki), but doesnīt solve the filmīs main problems:
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Road to Nowhere - 2010
Another masterpiece. I hope itīs not his last...
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« Last Edit: 08/03/11 at 12:08am by Gashade »  
 
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Gashade
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Re: Monte Hellman
Reply #1 - 08/01/11 at 11:41am
 
Other credits

Director
The Intruder - 1961
Hellman directed several nude scenes for this famous Roger Corman film

Beast from haunted cave - 1962
Several more scenes for the extended TV version

Ski troop attack - 1962
Several additional scenes for the extended TV version of this film shot by Roger Corman in 1960

Creature from the haunted sea - 1963
Several additional scenes for the extended TV version of this film shot by Roger Corman in 1961

Last Woman on Earth - 1963
Several additional scenes for the extended TV version of this film shot by Roger Corman in 1960

The Terror - 1963
Bits and pieces for this film with Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson shot by Roger Corman and F. F. Coppola, Jack Hill and Jack Nicholson, using the same sets as The Raven.

Dementia 13 - 1963
Hellman shot the prologue to this film by F. F. Coppola

A fistfull of dollars - 1964
A short prologue with Harry Dean Stanton shot for ABC TV, to give some motivation to the violence of the film.

The St. Valentine day's massacre - 1967
Hellman was dialogue director on this one

Shatter - 1975
A Hammer/Shaw Brothers coproduction which could have been quite interesting in Hellman hands, but which was finished by Michael Carreras

Baretta, episode A bite of the apple - 1975
Hellman was replaced by Robert Douglas on this one

The Greatest - 1977
Hellman replaced Tom Gries who died while filming

Avalanche Express - 1979
Hellman finished the film after Mark Robsonīs death

Inside the Coppola personality - 1981


Producer
Reservoir dogs - 1992 (which he was supposed to direct)


Editor
Medic - 1954-56
Tv series with Richard Boone, but I don't know on which episodes did Hellman work

The Wild Ride - 1960
With Jack Nicholson

The Wild Angels - 1966
Shot by Roger Corman

The long ride home aka A time for killing - 1967

Head - 1968
Shot by Bob Rafelson, Hellman edited the musical sequences

Target Harry - 1969
Another film by Roger Corman

The Killer Elite - 1975

Fighting mad - 1976
By Jonathan Demme

Harry and Walter go to New York - 1976

Sudden Death - 1977

Fade to black - 1980

The Awakening - 1980

Code of silence - 1985

Grey Knight - 1993
By George Hickenlooper (who also directed a short documentary about Hellman, included in the Two-Lane Blacktop Anchor bay release)

Love, cheat and steal - 1993

The westing game - 1997


Second unit director or assistant director
Bus Rileyīs back in town - 1965

Beach ball - 1965

The Big red One - 1980
By Samuel Fuller

Robocop - 1987


Hellman appears in the following documentaries or films:
The Christian licorice store - 1970

An almost perfect affair - 1979
This was shot at the Cannes festival and Hellman appears briefly in it

Chambre 666 - 1982
By Wim Wenders

Plunging on alone: Monte Hellman's life in a day - 1986
By Paul Joyce

Out of the blue and into the black - 1987

Someone to love - 1987

Hellman Rider - 1989
If I remember correctly, this is a film where Hellman goes on the road with some of his students to follow the trail taken during the shooting of Two-lane Blacktop

Sam Peckinpah: Man of iron - 1991

Warren Oates: Across the border - 1992

Quentin Tarantino: Hollywood's boy wonder - 1994

Close-up - 1995
Hellman appeared in two episodes of this BBC series, discussing scenes from Spirit of the beehive, The third man and A place in the sun

Monte Hellman: American auteur - 1997
By George Hickenlooper

L.A. without a map - 1998
By Mika Kaurismaki, not a documentary, but with various cameos (Julie Delpy, Joe Dallesandro, Vincent Gallo, Anouk Aimée, Johnny Depp, Matti Pellonpaa...)

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls - 2003

A Decade under the influence - 2003

Reservoir dogs revisited - 2005

There is no direction - 2005

Wanderlust - 2006

Goddard made in USA - 2010

Cormanīs world - 2011


Hellman is thanked in the credits of Vincent Gallo's Buffalo 66 which he was originally supposed to direct
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« Last Edit: 08/02/11 at 9:49pm by Gashade »  
 
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Gashade
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Re: Monte Hellman
Reply #2 - 08/01/11 at 11:50am
 
Books

Monte Hellman
By Charles Tatum, 1988
In French. Very good. Includes the script by Hellman and Jack Nicholson for the film Epitath.
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Bergamo Film Meeting 1990
A special issue with various pieces on Hellman. Quite good.
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Monte Hellman: His Life and Films
By Brad Stevens, 2003
Film by film analysis, including projects that didnīt get made. A bit scholarly, but with a lot of information the author got directly from Hellman.
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American stranger. Il cinema di Monte Hellman
Edited by Michele Fadda. In Italian. Very good.
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Sympathy for the Devil
By Emmanuel Burdeau. This is a long interview with Hellman, in French. Very good.
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Then, there's Nestor Almendros' nice book A man with a camera, where he has one chapter on his working on Cockfighter:
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There's Charles Willeford's book on the shooting of Cockfighter:
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And the Esquire isue with Two-Lane Blacktop's script, and calling it the best film of the year:
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« Last Edit: 08/03/11 at 12:17am by Gashade »  
 
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Mike S.
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Re: Monte Hellman
Reply #3 - 08/01/11 at 3:00pm
 
I guess the French were always the nicest to him.
But Paris was always THE city in the world when
it comes to appreciating film art.

TWO-LANE is among my Top 15 films.
'watch it every year.
Unfortunately I decided to collect on the title just
a few years ago, that (memorabilia) stuff of that title
is really expensive (for a 70s title).

Great list there Gashade!
Almost complete Smiley

He is also the narrator in yours truly
PASSION & POETRY - THE BALLAD OF SAM PECKINPAH.
Which he became somehow by accident:
I was with Vadim Glowna at the Berlin Festival to meet
Peter Fonda. He told me nice stories about Sam from
the time Sam lived in Livingston / MO where Fonda lives
for 35 years now. Fonda said there are still housewalls
in town where you see the bulletholes - witnesses of
Sam's target shooting at night.
Anyway, I couldn't film Fonda (bloody Festival politics)
and went with Vadim to the bar to have a drink. There stood
Monte Hellman! When talking to him I remembered how much
I always loved his special voice and asked him to do the
PASSION & POETRY narration.

Weeks later I had to cancel my flight to LA due to a burn-out
so we worked with a phone connection. It worked out quite well..

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Gashade
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Re: Monte Hellman
Reply #4 - 08/02/11 at 12:59am
 
Great photos!
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Gashade
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Re: Monte Hellman
Reply #5 - 08/02/11 at 10:19pm
 
You were right Mike, my lists were incomplete. I made them all from what I could remember and checking the years on imdb. I have completed them with more serious documentation, especially the detailed filmography included in Brad Stevens' book.
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