Friday, January 12, 2007

Camera Obscura - Bruce Campbell, Horace McCoy, Idiocracy

A Nashville native who went from fighter pilot to famous writer to bum to screenwriter gets introduced to you this week, and also in this whirlwind edition of movie news, the dumped-on and controversial comedy "Idiocracy" arrives on DVD and to start it all off, the legendary chin of actor Bruce Campbell.

Bruce continues his unique exploits in cinema and stardom with the following commercial for Old Spice. Look quick at the beginning and you can see a mighty chainsaw by the fireplace - wherever Bruce goes, Ash is close by. Groovy, baby.


The comedy/satire "Idiocracy" by filmmaker Mike Judge got shelved for two years by Fox, then they barely released the movie last August, pulled it out of theatres after a week or so, and now they have released it on DVD this week - with no commentaries or extras other than a few deleted scenes. Even the original poster for the movie has already become a collector's item.

Judge has been most patient with Fox's gross mishandling. They chopped the movie up some, added some unneeded narration, but all around the country, the movie is getting the praise it deserves. The story follows Army private Joe Bowers (Luke Wilson) who is placed in an experimental hibernation pod, along with a prostitute (Maya Rudolph) and an accident puts them out in an America 500 years from now - where Stupid is King and Joe stands out as the smartest man in the nation. The Washington Post writes:

Things go awry, and the two guinea pigs don't wake up for 500 years, by which time the country has become populated by porn-addicted rednecks and Uzi-toting gangstas; the English language has been replaced by a patois of "hillbilly, Valley Girl and inner-city slang." A trashed-out landscape that's part zombie film and part broken-down "Blade Runner," the America of "Idiocracy" has become one vast junk food-entertainment complex, where bread and circuses take the form of super-size burritos and monster truck rallies."

As with his previous film, "Office Space", expect a massive cult following to lift this movie out of obscurity.


As long as I've been writing about movies, I can always learn something new - even if the movie was one I thought I knew much about.

Such is the case with the brillant drama. "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" Set in a grim and brutal dance marathon in the 1930s, this 1969 movie by Sydney Pollack has always been a favorite of mine. Watching it again the other night on TCM, the movie has lost none of its visceral punches so I thought I should take advantage of this here internets deal and check on the writer - novelist/screenwriter Horace McCoy.

McCoy was born in Pegram, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville and deserves quite a bit of celebration as a writer of distinction. McCoy's novel of the dance marathon of death was based on his own script, but there were no takers. He published it as a novel in 1935 and Charlie Chaplin took the option to film the work - an effort that never saw completion. The book sold poorly in the U.S., but was hailed in Europe as a masterpiece and McCoy was ranked with writers like Hemingway and Faulkner.

McCoy had an amazing life and career. He left home at 16, became a bombardier and when his pilot was killed in mid-flight in 1918 took the controls, shot down an enemy plane and landed safely, despite his own wounds. Flying now as a pilot, he was wounded several more times by the time his military career ended, logging over 400 hours in the air.

Back in the U.S., he started writing for newspapers in Texas, and acting with the Dallas Little Theatre, running in the highest circles of society. He lost his fame and wealth, ending up as a hobo and odd-jobber (which led to his time as a bouncer for dance marathon in California and gave backgorund to his later novel). He was a pulp writer for Black Mask magazine, crafted dozens of action films in Hollywood (incudling some uncredited work on the original "King Kong") and penned the novel "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" which became one of Jimmy Cagney's favorite roles.

There is much more to his life and you can read a fine biography of McCoy here, and his Hollywood career is noted here. I know I'm reading his books as soon as I am able to track down a few copies.


  1. I love love love that we both posted about "Idiocracy" today. Hubby and I watched last night and I nearly pissed myself laughing.

  2. I'm so very excited about Bubba Nosferatu!

  3. Tits - great minds, ya know, always in synch!

    MtnGirl - just watched Bubba Hotep again the other nite and it is a seriously under-appreciated film, Campbell just amazing as Old Elvis. I keep hearing rumors of Bubba Nosferatu being made and then not being made ... as long as the get a story from Joe Lansdale and Bruce is back, i am all in!

  4. Cinemonkey4:33 AM

    Saw the Old Spice commercial yesterday, & was dumbfounded (Is anyone ever smartfounded?). I love the 20 ft long painting!
    If Bubba Nosferatu comes to pass, I will be first in line. I also think that would be an excellent opportunity for a "Cup of.." convention.
    What's with the temerity surrounding Idiocracy? Are they afraid we'll discover they actually think we ARE idiots? I agree that this will be a cult classic.
    And, just to concur, "Groovy, baby!"