Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Dusty Dustin


Of all of Dustin Hoffman’s storied performances, the one least known may be his fiercely modulated portrait of ex-con Max Dembo in 1978’s Straight Time (Warner, $20). Hoffman’s greasy, low-key lead is an unsavory but memorable concoction-- sympathetic, forlorn and frightening, while the supporting class is beyond cool (Harry Dean Stanton, Gary Busey, Theresa Russell, Kathy Bates and M. Emmet Walsh at his sleazeball best as scummy parole officer). The movie, long a cult fave, gains more cult cache by boasting contributions from acclaimed theatre director Ulu Grosbard doing one of his infrequent turns as a movie maker (True Confessions ’81, Georgia ’95) and screenwriter/novelist/bit actor Edward Bunker (who also penned Runaway Train ’85 and Animal Factory ’00, two other con flicks) adapting his own book. Straight Time is another of those wonderfully unsentimental 70’s American films, where the hard-boiled rubs against the mundane amidst the dreariest of settings, resulting in a unique dynamic that manages to be both spirited and understated, ardent yet low-key; the kind of 70’s American cinema that (for a little while) so successfully passed off the representational for the real with a unique cinematic frisson.

3 comments:

Christopher said...

Scott-OFF SUBJECT BUT I DON'T HAVE ANY OTHER WAY TO CONTACT YE...thanks for the note. Kenne Highland plays out in Boston on occasion with whatever new band he has formed by this time (otherwise keeping under cover), while Eddie Flowers makes recordings with Crawlspace and sells records/CDs etc. on his Slippytown.com site which is probably the best way to get in touch with him. Hey, I like your blog...will link it up with all the rest, which certainly is an honor considering all the blogs I will NOT link up!-Chris at BLOG TO COMM

lambgiuse said...

To this day there are two scenes that I always remember from that film. I get pure joy out of when he overpowers his asshole parole officer (yes Walsh stays true to form) and leaves him stranded (pants down around ankles) and handcuffed to a guardrail. And then there is the pure con sociopathic offing of loyal (but stupid) pal played wonderfully by a then relativly unknown Busey

lambgiuse said...
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