does anyone care to discuss the work of robert aldrich? where does he place among the hollywood greats?
i just realized i know next to nothing about his career. for years and years the only film of his i’ve seen is “kiss me deadly”, which is a masterpiece of classic noir. one of the absolute best. but i just finished watching “the dirty dozen”. i thought it didnt date too well. a lot of the comedy was weak and so was the acting. in fact, too much comedy in the opening half, for me. the tone was off. the movie also took way too long to get to the climactic scene. i dont know much about the “men on a mission” subgenre of the war film, but i have to say this film didn’t live up to its reputation for me.
Well, when you say ’Aldrich’’, you have to say “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.” He certainly knew Gothic, and got some killer performances from Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. That was a good piece of work.
“The Dirty Dozen” I recall with some fondness, but for that kind of ‘WW2-action’ genre, I will still pick “Where Eagles Dare” as the best example where logic is never allowed to interfere with a good story.
E.M. Nathanson’s novel “The Dirty Dozen” is actually quite a good read.
Also, Aldrich’s “Flight of the Phoenix” was quite memorable and, in places, very suspenseful. A good rousing tale of survival, if you haven’t seen it.
I agree, someone like him should be brought up more. It’s as if his films are just taken for granted.
You might want to take a look at Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? A strange and interesting trip.
Also check out The Longest Yard-much better than the remake and Emperor of the North Pole.
There is nothing quite like his “Kiss Me Deadly” a wonderful and utterly weird film. I also highly recommend “Attack”, “The Longest Yard” and “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane”. “The Killing of Sister George” is also very interesting.
You might also wish to take a look at THE BIG KNIFE with Jack Palance, he was good here. (Made the same year as KISS.)
THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE was a good movie.
But I don’t believe he did anything else quite like KISS ME DEADLY. No one did.
he certainly had a much longer career than i realized. and it seems to be varied with regards to genre and style. the nouvelle vague folks considered him an auteur of the highest order. probably just off the strength of “kiss me deadly”. but other than that, he really has been taken for granted. or has he? is his collective body of work something to be prized?
Thanks for bringing up Robert Aldrich – one whose prolific work shouldn’t be overlooked esp. by the younger generation.
He’s such a brilliant director and storyteller. I thought his films are quite engaging, usually filled with desperate characters just trying to make it through offbeat situations. All the films mentioned above are all essentials. I would like to add “HUSH…HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE” for another dose of southern gothic. Other notables include “TOO LATE THE HERO” -an action-packed flick set in a remote Pacific island with Cliff Robertson, Michael Caine and a host of familiar British actors of the era like Harry Andrews and Denholm Elliot, as well as “ULZANA’S RAID”, a gritty, brutal portrayal of the wild west, with Burt Lancaster as a veteran scout helping the army hunt down renegade Apaches. Unfortunately, it’s not available on dvd in the U.S. (I’ve got a pricey Aussie import, but it’s uncut and widescreen so I thought it was really worth it). The film was said to be an allegory of America’s disaster in Nam, as well as our current involvements overseas. I agree.
“Emperor of the North Pole” is also teriffic.
Aldrich worked as an assistant director for a number of important filmmakers inlcuding Chaplin and Abraham Polonsky.
wow. i knew he assisted polonsky, but didn’t know about chaplin.
Among the best American auteurs. Check out his first films, too: Apache, Vera Cruz.
And he works as assistant director for many others amazing directors: the forgotten Rossen, Milestone, and for some films by Losey.
Why aren’t any of Aldrich’s films on this site?
Kiss me deadly would have to be my favorite. Hush, hush sweet charlotte is also pretty good, it’s the one he did right after baby jane.
I’m not sure if it’s in print but if you can find it check out The Last Sunset, I saw it in a theater, pretty interesting.
I have yet to see Dirty Dozen
Aldrich seems to get passed over in favor of other directors who are known for their melodramas: Curtiz, Sirk, Borzage. At his best, Aldrich could be stranger and more adventurous than any of them. That’s not to say that all his risks paid off. But his roll-up-the-shirtsleeves gusto elevates pictures like Autumn Leaves and Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte into more than B-films. Autumn Leaves is incredibly violent, closer to Fuller than to Sirk, and its May-December love story makes All That Heaven Allows look like a Sunday tea party. Hush Hush… displays a nice feeling for the ostracized older woman. It’s sort of a softer version of Tennessee Williams. But his feeling for old women turned nasty in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Still, it’s his insistence on nasty behavior that makes so many of his films interesting, and I think they’ll age well.
A complete bad ass, a real rebel in the hollywood system. No one was making anything remotely close to The Killing of Sister George under the watchful eye of the moneymen as Aldrich was.
Vera Cruz may be my personal favorite for Aldrich. But I believe his master achievement to be Kiss Me Deadly.
Autumn Leaves is terribly underrated. Its a film that should not be forgotten.
Ulzana’s Raid is quite good
i havent even heard of a lot of these films. it seems like his career completely slipped under the radar for me.
Aldrich. Hardboiled. Master of insolence.
I really like The Grissom Gang, and I don’t understand why it isn’t better known. There are plenty of films that show gangsters as impressive guys keeping ahead of the game, with good suits, nice houses, attractive wives/girlfriends, etc, until they get their comuppance towards the end (eg The Godfather), so I quite welcome films that depict them as simply mad and bad, like The Grissom Gang does. Even as I write this I can think of other ‘mad and bad’ gangsters, such as those in Ferrara’s The Funeral, or those in Peckinpah’s Ride The High Country, or Richard Conte in The Big Combo, but, Aldrich being Aldrich, the idea is pushed as far as it will go, and having them led by their mad mother is a nice touch.
the longest yard is one of the best football movies ever made. but it’s very good even if you don’t like football.
they played kiss me deadly the ONE day i missed film noir class!
you can get “kiss me deadly” on a good dvd copy. its a masterpiece. for some, its the summit of film noir. its certianly one of the most influential films of all-time, for a lot of people.
Aldrich is all over the map as far as choice of subject matter goes. I think this may be one reason why so many people don’t think of him as an auteur: they’re just not familiar with all his films. I haven’t seen any of his “military action” films (for lack of a better word) and really have very little desire to. I am familiar with the dramas such as AUTUMN LEAVES and SISTER GEORGE, the Southern Gothics, BANBY JANE and SWEET CHARLOTTE and at least one of his noirs, KISS ME DEADLY. The devil will be selling snowcones before I watch THE LONGEST YARD. There is a certain robustness (I want to say masculinity, but that’s probably sexist) to his approach that marks all his films. There’s a bluntness, even a brutality to them – even in the editing. Softer moments – such as the final, wordless exchange between Bette Davis and Cecil Kellaway at the end of CHARLOTTE – are rare. And it ought to be noted that within the same film, the sequence where Bruce Dern has his hand and head chopped off was just about the most brutal and graphic such scene in any US film up to that time.
KISS ME DEADLY is one of my all time favorites. Robert Aldrich has a wonderful body of work..I just recently saw THE LEGEND OF LAYLAH CLARE starring Kim Novak , Ernest Borgnine and Peter Finch…a strange film about the reincarnation of a 30’s movie starlet that was never released on video.