Frank, played by Warren Oates, is an obsessive participant in cockfights, “a player playing for the sake of the game, an idealist challenging fate even though he knows he will never win and never be able to change his destiny.” (Olaf Möller) The screenplay was written by Charles Willeford – a literary master of Americana – and Nestor Almendros was responsible for the picture composition. Hellman once called this work “an authentic transatlantic endeavor.” Cockfighter was also released under the titles Gamblin’ Man, Wild Drifter and Born to Kill. The cockfighting scenes depict improvised yet strongly ritualized gatherings. This documentary-ethnographic aspect was pivotal for Monte Hellman’s adaptation of the story. (Ralph Eue) —Arsenal
Monte Hellman (born July 12, 1932, in New York City, New York) is an American film director, producer, and film editor.
Hellman is among a group of directing talent mentored by Roger Corman, who produced several of the director’s early films. Hellman’s most critically acclaimed film to date has been Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), a road movie that was a box office failure at the time of its initial release but has subsequently turned into a perennial cult favorite.1 Hellman’s two acid westerns starring Jack Nicholson, Ride in the Whirlwind and The Shooting, both shot in 1965 and released directly to television in 1968, have also developed cult followings, particularly the latter. A third western, China 9, Liberty 37 (1978), was far less successful critically, although it too has its admirers, as do Cockfighter (1974) (aka Born to Kill) and Iguana (1988). In 1989 he directed the straight-to-video slasher film Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch… read more
A strange look at a strange American subculture. Cockfighter isn't exactly gripping cinema, but there is something powerful and hypnotic about it. It captures a slice of life and succeeds in really making you taste the dirt and sweat of country life. Anchored by a great performance by the always great Warren Oates and some evocative visuals this is quite the unique film.
I guess I expected something more... it's not a bad film, but falls short to "Two-lane Blacktop" in my opinion.
Really torn on this one: Some great performances, and an interesting take on the world of cockfighting, but I couldn't get past the chicken-on-chicken violence
I think Hellman was sorta asleep at the wheel on this one, but lucky for him (and us!) it's got: Warren Oates killing it in every scene, a script by Charles Willeford, authentic rural Georgia locations, awesome supporting actors Stanton, Bird, Willeford, Jones (James Earl's brother), Bagley jr(his first role-playing an inbred moron), the sleaziest Steve Railsback ever, and Almendros shooting the whole thing. Gold.