Today Bruce Lee is a cinematic icon. When he died unexpectedly at the age of 32 with only four completed movies it left a void in The Industry. And an opportunity.
The subgenre of films known as Bruceploitation begins even before the man himself is laid to rest, as producers capitalized on his death and started making dozens of martial arts movies with lookalike actors who had sound alike names.
Bruce Li, Bruce Le, Dragon Lee are just three of the men that The Industry would try to mold into the next Bruce Lee. Sequels to Lee’s films, both official and unofficial, were churned off the assembly line and in theaters at a quick rate. But the truly crazy thing about Bruceplotation is that it wasn’t hated, but rather accepted.
In this episode of The Industry we take a look at the subgenre of Bruceploitation. Michael Worth is, like Bruce Lee, an actor, director, and writer of action movies. He’s also a Bruceploitation expert working on a documentary and book on the subject. He, along with French YouTuber, Bruce No, help guide the way as we take a look at this oddly effecting subgenre of film.
Actress Tippi Hedren and her husband, producer Noel Marshall, while in Africa, see a house that’s been taken over by a pride of lions. This sparks the idea to make a movie. A movie about a pride of lions that taken over a house, but with a family still inside. And they decided to make this movie using their own family.
The movie, Roar, becomes a lengthy odyssey that costs them nearly everything including their lives. Using over 100 untrained animals (mainly lions) causes lots of on set problems. Tippi breaks a leg, her daughter (actress Melanie Griffith) needs facial reconstruction surgery, and many cast and crew members are bitten and injured along the way.
This episode of The Industry looks at the crazy but true history of Roar, with help from John Marshall, Robert Primes, and Drafthouse Films founder Tim League.
Wealder, David. Courtney Goodin Part One: The Analog Years. 695 Quarterly, Vol. 3, Issue 3. Summer 2011.
The career of Nicholas Ray is almost as complex as the man himself. He worked with legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, producer John Houseman, and director Elia Kazan all before he made his own first picture, They Live By Night (1948).
Ray’s film were focused on loners, rebels, outcasts. They were tragic and violent. And always seemed to push against… something.
Ray was the man behind the iconic Rebel Without A Cause and Bogart’s most searing turn on film with In A Lonely Place.
He was also an alcoholic, gambler, and drug addict. He was married four times, most notoriously to actress Gloria Grahame. Ray claimed to have come home to find Grahame in bed with his son (from a previous marriage) Tony.
Grahame and Nicholas Ray divorced in 1952.
Grahame and Tony Ray married in 1960.
He became the 2nd highest paid director in the world (after Hitchcock) and but just a few years later he would be out of work. Too many bridges burned, Ray struggled to get a movie off the ground. That’s when the opportunity to teach came around. Which brought with it the opportunity to make one more picture.
This episode of The Industry looks at what happened when legendary director Nicholas Ray went to Harpur College to teach film and turned his classes into one big film unit.
Former students Tom Farrell, Richard Bock, Leslie Levenson, as well as Nick’s daughter and author Nicca Ray, filmmaker Myron Meisel, and Harpur College’s then head of film department (and experimental filmmaker) Larry Gottheim all help tell the story of Professor Nicholas Ray and his unconventional teaching style.
In 1970 Warner Brothers had a surprise hit on their hands when they released the documentary/concert film Woodstock. Having spent less than a million dollars on it, the film would eventually gross 50 million at the box office. The question for the suits at the WB was, how do we make lightning strike twice?
That’s where the Medicine Ball Caravan comes in. A tour across America in tie dye buses stuffed with hippies, bands, counterculture clown Wavy Gravy, and more drugs than a Walgreen’s warehouse. Free concerts staged with major acts like Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Hot Tuna, and Alice Cooper! Hippies in middle America freaking out those squares who just don’t get it! Add in Academy Award winning documentarian Francois Reichenbach to film it all and it’s gold right?
Of course not. Reichenbach’s French film crew ended up just as high as any hippie on the trip resulting is terrible footage, the caravan was labelled a sellout by the exact audience it was trying to cultivate, and the squares in middle America turned out to be mostly nice people.
In this episode of The Industry we explore what went wrong for this forgotten movie by talking to the people who know what went down and who were there when it happened.
When I first met Aigul Kaparova, the woman whom I would eventually marry, she told me she was from Kazakhstan. And of course there was basically one thing I knew about Kazakhstan: Borat.
I remember asking her how she felt about Borat, because I remembered the reaction to that film in Kazakhstan. She told me the whole controversy didn’t really bother her much and that the country had seemingly accepted that Borat would always be associated with her home. And that was about it.
Until this week. That’s when Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat unexpectedly turned back up in everyone’s world with Borat Second Moviefilm, now streaming on Amazon Prime. To my surprise, Aigul told me two things: She had never seen Borat before, and she was really excited to see this new movie.
So with that in mind there was only one thing for me to do: Turn on my recorder and document the experience of Borat with someone from Kazakhstan. You can listen on Apple or Spotify or here:
In 1978 Superman made Christopher Reeve a star. Two sequels later, Reeve was publicly saying he was done with the role. And he was. That’s when Cannon Films came calling. The upstart would be studio was looking to jump from the B pictures onto the A list. And the one thing they thought would get them there was Christopher Reeve.
In 1985, Baltimore infomercial star Santo Victor Rigatuso, aka Santo Gold, produced an extravaganza with something for everyone: It promised horror, wrestling, rock, and even a “three-headed Munga Magoon.” It was all supposed to be filmed and turned into a feature film more exciting than the recent Rocky III.
The spectacle, called Blood Circus, was also supposed to introduce some exciting new technology called a “scream bag.” Attendees were promised a Thundervision sound system, atomic fleas, and a “new type of movie unlike anything you will ever experience.”
They received none of these things. But the failure of Blood Circus is a remarkable story that brings together The Wire creator David Simon, indie music star Santigold, and Mark H. Weingartner, who would later work on Inception, Dunkirk and The Hunger Games Saga.
The American Cinematheque Podcast, hosted by Grant Moninger.
John Barry is a deeply respected set designer, responsible for the Korova Milk Bar in A Clockwork Orange, the cantina in Star Wars, and the Fortress of Solitude in Superman, among other starkly original film locales. But when it came time to make his own film, Saturn 3, things fell apart.
The setup for Saturn 3 is fine: Farrah Fawcett and Kirk Douglas are a May-December Adam and Eve in space. Then Harvey Keitel arrives. With a clumsy robot.
John Barry escaped from Saturn 3 just in time to work on the sequel to Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back. But from there, his story took a tragic turn.
Film Design Terence St. John Marner, Michael Stringer Tantivy Press, 1974
British Film Culture in the 1970s By Sue Harper, Justin Smith · 2013
The Man from Krypton: A Closer Look at Superman by Glenn Yeffeth
Brosnan, John (July 1980). “Saturn 3”. Starbust Magazine. No. 23. p. 12.
Brender, Alan (April 1980). “Saturn 3”. Starlog. p. 17.
Crawley, Tony (March 1980). “Saturn 3”. Starburst. p. 28-33.
In 1971 actor Elliott Gould was on top of world. Then he started A Glimpse of Tiger, a new movie that he was starring and producing. What followed was a tumultuous five day production that would see Gould fire his director, terrify his co-star, and have armed guards be called to the set.
When Israeli filmmaker Menahem Golan wanted to break into Hollywood, he went all in on an over the top disco musical. Unfortunately by 1980, when his movie was released, disco was dead, and the reaction to his flashy new film didn’t go according to plan.