Tag Archives: Verna Bloom

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988, Martin Scorsese)

The Last Temptation of Christ opens with a passage presumably from the introduction to the novel, as it’s the novel’s writer talking about his own feelings. It’s an odd choice, since it somehow removes the drive for the picture from the filmmakers and puts it on someone else.

It’s a very intentional move from Scorsese; Last Temptation is full of very intentional moves. While the film did have a relatively low budget, it still has an amazing crew–Michael Ballhaus’s photography is masterful and Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing is sublime (particularly for the first half).

Scorsese and Ballhaus open with muted colors. Willem Dafoe’s narration has to carry the fantastical elements until the journey of self-discovery picks up and color finally leaks in. The supporting cast–Harvey Keitel in particular–also lend to the mundane feeling. Keitel might be playing Judas, but he’s also the stand-in for the viewer. The approach works.

The film has two major transitions. First is when Dafoe and company get to Jerusalem the first time. Instead of journeying about, Last Temptation becomes all about getting to the crucifixion. That change probably isn’t anyone’s fault… at some point it has to be about getting to the cross. Still, Scorsese could have paced it better.

Then the cross itself, when Scorsese respectfully apes 2001. The end does save the picture, but there’s definite rough road.

Great music from Peter Gabriel, excellent lead performance from Dafoe, strong supporting turns.

Even with its problems, Last Temptation’s mostly magnificent.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Martin Scorsese; screenplay by Paul Schrader, based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis; director of photography, Michael Ballhaus; edited by Thelma Schoonmaker; music by Peter Gabriel; production designer, John Beard; produced by Barbara De Fina; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Willem Dafoe (Jesus), Harvey Keitel (Judas), Barbara Hershey (Mary Magdalene), Verna Bloom (Mary, Mother of Jesus), Andre Gregory (John The Baptist), Gary Basaraba (Andrew, Apostle), Victor Argo (Peter, Apostle), Michael Been (John, Apostle), Paul Herman (Phillip, Apostle), John Lurie (James, Apostle), Alan Rosenberg (Thomas, Apostle), Leo Burmester (Nathaniel, Apostle), Peggy Gormley (Martha, Sister of Lazarus), Randy Danson (Mary, Sister of Lazarus), Tomas Arana (Lazarus), Roberts Blossom (Aged Master), Barry Miller (Jeroboam), Harry Dean Stanton (Saul), David Bowie (Pontius Pilate) and Juliette Caton (The Angel).

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Badge 373 (1973, Howard W. Koch)

Badge 373 sounded good because it’s seventies Robert Duvall (before he was eighties and nineties Robert Duvall). My high hopes were quickly dashed. It’s poorly written, with lousy direction.

It’s amateurish, far beneath Duvall’s abilities.

I thought Howard W. Koch was somebody–I thought it was because of the New York mayor (Ed Koch), but it’s really Howard non-W. Koch (co-screenwriter of Casablanca). It’s rather confused why I thought he was a good director. He’s not.

It doesn’t feel much like a post-Dirty Harry cop film. It’s just another one of those seventies, bigot cop movies. There’s only so much time one has for that genre.

It’s certainly the worst performance I’ve seen from Duvall in the 1970s. Though not as ludicrous as some of his nineties work.

Trying to come up with anything else to say about the film is difficult, but it’s boring and long with unlikable characters. It’s based on the life of a real cop, who achieved some notoriety as the inspiration for The French Connection. He appears in the film and is a terrible actor.

It doesn’t compare to that film in the filmmaking or the script.

Verna Bloom is in it, who I like from–not High Plains DrifterAfter Hours. It’s After Hours I’m thinking of, the film where I really like Verna Bloom.

If you were full of crap and promoting the film, you could say it was 1970s American cinéma vérité.

It’s not; it’s just really poorly made.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Howard W. Koch; screenplay by Pete Hamill, inspired by Eddie Egan; director of photography, Arthur J. Ornitz; edited by John Woodcock; music by J.J. Jackson; production designer, Philip Rosenberg; produced by Koch and Jim Di Gangi; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Robert Duvall (Eddie Ryan), Verna Bloom (Maureen), Henry Darrow (Sweet William), Eddie Egan (Lt. Scanlon), Felipe Luciano (Ruben Garcia), Tina Cristiani (Mrs. Caputo), Marina Durell (Rita Garcia), Chico Martínez (Frankie Diaz), Jose Duvall (Ferrer), Louis Cosentino (Gigi Caputo) and Luis Avalos (Chico).