Glows Tribute to Warren Oates

22 01 2008

So, I mentioned in an earlier post that I was writing an extended piece based around some classic films starring the stellar Warren Oates.

Well, the work is getting closer to being finished, and we will be premiering it at our next show, which is this Sunday, January 27 at Commercial Taphouse in RVA. Basically what I’ve done is take our song “Warren Oates” and extended it by adding new songs in between sections of the older composition. The new tunes are based on three films where Mr. Oates was allowed to step to the front line, and assume a lead role. They are: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Two-Lane Blacktop, and Cockfighter.

I first got into Oates as a result of a summer film class I took at NYU in 2000. My teacher, Kelly Reichardt, a great filmmaker in her own right, introduced the class to the great director Monte Hellman and to his favorite actor Warren Oates. I got into it in a very juvenile way, where I basically just believed everything the teacher told me. It helped a lot that this was the first time she had ever taught, so she was not bringing the typical film nerd vibe to the class, but instead she brought a unique perspective that helped us appreciate many films that were pretty far under the radar, in a genuine way.

When I came home from the 6-week course, I had 5 short films under my belt and I was dying to watch the Monte Hellman and Warren Oates films that the Mrs. Reichardt suggested. I straight up bought Two-Lane Blacktop, and really tried to like it, but it just didn’t take. I then rented Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia from the amazing Video Fan in Richmond, and liked it, but just didn’t get it. I didn’t bother watching Cockfighter at the time, as I couldn’t find it anywhere.

In the past year having re-watched Two-Lane Blacktop, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, and watching Cockfighter twice I have finally been able to appreciate these great films and Warren Oates contribution to them. He just brings a level of intelligence and unassuming complexity that can literally go unnoticed if your not paying attention (like me 7 years ago). It’s amazing what he can get away with, and in Cockfighter he doesn’t even have to say anything and you know exactly what he means, just by watching his face.

I highly recommend all three of these films now, and hope that the songs I’m writing can do any of them justice. The songs are:
Bennie (for Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia)
GTO (for Two-Lane Blacktop)
Mr. Mansfield (for Cockfighter)

Once again, the show is this Sunday at Commercial Taphouse, and we start at 9:30pm. It’s also ALL AGES and FREE, so theres that too!




10 responses

22 01 2008

Dude, Cockfighter was upstairs in the Cult section of Video Fan the entire time. On VHS. In one of those clamshell boxes or whatever that Anchor Bay was using in the late 90s/early 00s.

27 01 2008

Just posted about it, check it out.

29 01 2008

Thank you for celebrating the Greatest Character Actor in American Film with your music. Might I recommend a viewing (or three) of “The Shooting,” which was also directed by Monte Hellman — the visionary responsible for “Two Lane Blacktop” and “Cockfighter.” It’s one of Oates’ greatest and most subtle performances — and the film is an existential western that manages to take in everything from the work of Jung to the Kennedy Assassination. (Plus it has a very young and quite villainous Jack Nicholson in a supporting role).

Kudos again!

30 01 2008

Thanks so much for the kind words. I actually really want to see “The Shooting.” I got it from Netflix one time, and it ended up being part of a double feature and was very low quality. You couldn’t understand what people were saying, and the video quality made it really hard to follow. If I can find a decent copy of it, I’d definitely check it out. I had a similar experience with “China 9 Liberty 37.” I got through it and really enjoyed it, and then found out that it had been heavily edited. I wish they would re-release both of those through Criterion one day.

30 01 2008

There is a reasonably good print of “The Shooting” available on a budget DVD made by a company called Madacy. Kind of easy to find. I believe “The Shooting” might be in the public domain so, yeah, watch out for those bad prints.

I agree. It would be INCREDIBLE if a company like Criterion restored and reissued “The Shooting” along with Hellman’s “Ride in the Whirlwind.” Both of those Roger Corman-produced westerns were filmed on location one after the other, and both have Jack Nicholson (who also wrote “Ride”) and Millie Perkins in the cast. Oates, alas, is not in “Ride in the Whirlwind.” But Harry Dean Stanton is — and that’s a damn good consolation prize.

I have yet to see “China 9, Liberty 37” – mainly because I want to see it in its original version and not all cut up. It’s the one Hellman/Oates collaboration I haven’t seen so I await a future DVD release. It has Sam Peckinpah in the cast as a “dime novelist” and how can you beat that?

30 01 2008

Thanks for the heads up, I’ll track that other version of “The Shooting”. As far as “China 9, Liberty 37” I really wish I could find an uncut version. That movie is SO unassumingly complicated and amazing to watch unfold. And yes, Peckinpah is awesome in it. Like I said in the post, my old film teacher Kelly Reichardt first got me into Oates and Hellman. She made a great film recently called “Old Joy” that really channels a lot of what was great about Hellman’s films. Nothing really happens in it on the surface, but there’s a lot going on underneath in a non-cheesy way. It’s good stuff.

13 09 2008
A Killing Spree In The Badlands | involuntary fury

[…] baton routine. She’s also a lost soul, having moved from Texas to South Dakota with her dad (Warren Oates) after her mom died. The two loners immediately bond, but Holly’s father wants his daughter […]

19 06 2010

Nice piece, its strange to think that I came to love Mr Oates, Mr Hellman and Miss Reichardt all separately, it restrenghtens my view of the connective power of art!

You should definitely check out the Hired Hand, the first of three films Oates made with Peter Fonda (they were very good friends)

21 06 2010

Thanks for the kind words! I’ll definitely check that film out. I like you’re blog too…BADLANDS!

21 06 2010

Hopefully more Oates films to come!

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