This is a good companion piece to Hellman's Two Lane Blacktop and also the performance of Warren Oates career. It is a damn shame that Hellman didn't get the chance to make more films and that Oates didn't play the lead more often. Every time he was the lead he knocked it out of the park. Who knew a movie about chicken fighting could be so good.
Existential cinema at it's finest. The movie's profound reflection on the American dream and masculinity, conveyed by a mute Warren Oates in what is probably his best performance, is combined with a raw insight on a sub-culture that's illegal and cruel but still popular all over America (with some more than striking images by the master Almendros), making Cockfighter the definitive American movie of the 70's.
I liked it but I didn't love it. I'd say that statement applies to every element of this film accept Oats's performance. It manages to establish a fascinating world of colorful southern eccentrics but squanders potentially powerful themes through its docile tone. Not the grizzly 70's beast I was hoping for but good none the less. 3/5
En la Norteamerica mas profunda y crepúscular posible, Warren Oates y Harry Dean Stanton enfrentan a sus gallos a muerte. Cada batalla pone en juego mas cosas de las que en realidad se dicen (y eso que Oates no dice casi nada) y el honor de ambos, sin quién gane o pierda, jamas se doblega. En el medio aparecen algunas mujeres que van y vienen. No parece suceder mucho mas. ¿Otra obra maestra minimalista de Hellman? Si
What could so easily have been a tale of despicable characters and a repellant trade is transformed into a celebration of Americana via Hellman's astute direction and -above all- Oates' masterful rendition of sang-froid, silent outsiderness. It is really Oates that adds emphasis to the film's core, and very Hawksian, theme that professionalism reinforces and elevates manliness in even the seediest trades.
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 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.