Thursday, April 23, 2009
cinema obscura: Ted Brenner's "Run Home Slow" (1965)
A grindhouse original, but where to start?
First, an admission: I saw this film only once, when I was a kid. "Run Home Slow," the first and only film directed by Ted Brenner, had the distinction of playing on The Late, Late Show on a Philadelphia TV station at the exact same time as its opening in a Philly grindhouse.
That has to be a first.
I remember it - vaguely - as being either truly awful or truly visionary, in an Alejandro Jodorowsky sort of way. What I do recall clearly is the outlandish, quite insane lead performance of Mercedes McCambridge, doing her patented Mercedes McCambridge thing (read: a retread of her performances from Nicholas Ray's "Johnny Guitar" and George Stevens' "Giant") as a tough cow-woman bent on revenge. She plays Nell Hagan, the scary matriarch in a family of dim-witted men who are on a mindless quest to avenge the hanging death of their ruthless father. mcCambridge stumbles around here in a Method Actor daze, mouthing monologues of mysticism and in a way that's equally deranged and entertaining - and that prompts one to want to re-evaluate her admired performances as Emma Small (in "Guitar") and the curiously named Luz Benedict (in "Giant").
Linda Gaye Scott, a young starlet at the time and reportedly an heiress to the Scott Paper Company, is on hand as a Hagan cousin who gets cozy with Nell's two brothers (even though they are blood relatives) but is largely on hand to take Nell's driving abuse.
This is a midnight movie that never found its niche.
Shot in black and white in a truly creepy, shadowy style by Lewis Guinn and scored by Frank Zappa - yes, that Frank Zappa - "Run Home Slow" may not be good but, once seen, it is not easily forgotten.
I offer myself as testament of that. In fact, I'd like to see it again.
Posted by joe baltake at 1:25 PM