Friday, June 26, 2015

Auteur Watch - William Crain

Ah, iconic '70s TV.  Is there anything better?  You know, people forget that these shows had directors, too!  Sure, they weren't as celebrated as today's TV directors are... they are, aren't they?  But wow!  To be associated with Starsky and Hutch and The Mod Squad... the TV shows, not the botched movie versions... I know, the Starsky and Hutch movie was quite good.  I'd be very surprised if someone wants to come along and defend the Mod Squad movie.  Frankly, with the proliferation of all these online services, I'd be surprised if anyone responds to anything I write ever again.  Everyone's too busy with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest... Mumblr?  Tumblr.  That's it.  I don't want to leave a single billionaire out here.  I'll give LinkedIn an honorable mention, of course, but only because they make it easy to post your résumé... somewhere.  The online equivalent of the circular file.
But leave us curve this incessant scope creep at once.  Alas, when you're a TV director, you've got to be fast, you've got to compromise, but most of all... you've got to be fast.  I guess directing took its toll on William Crain.  He never took off like Richard Donner or Steven Spielberg, who both started in TV.  On the other hand, Crain can hold his head up high, unlike Rod Daniel or Brian Levant.  And even though Crain worked on the aforementioned future-iconic TV shows, he knew that this still wasn't enough.  How about some iconic films in the ol' résumé as well?  Well, how about 1972's iconic Blacula?  Iconic enough for you?  Oh, it's off the Tarantinometer in terms of iconicity.  However, Crain didn't believe in sequels, so Scream Blacula Scream was off the menu for him.  Incidentally, I don't like the implication of the title Scream Blacula Scream.  See, Blacula is supposed to be the one causing people to scream.  But that was the entrenched power of white America in the '70s for you.  White British Dracula was allowed to make dozens of movies, but black Dracula had to be killed off.  Figures.  Crain did however direct the icon-ish Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde.  Not funky enough to become a regularly referenced '70s icon, I guess. 
Of course, to become a true auteur, you have to have a film or two that film critics and historians can point to as their obscure film.  For the Coens, apparently it's The Hudsucker Proxy.  There was this one dude online who was saying that it's now his life's work to let people know that this film exist.  Well, whatever he did, it worked, because I still remember.  For David Fincher, it's 1997's The Game, which everyone sidesteps when mentioning Seven and Fight Club.  Understandably so.  For William Crain, there's a film on his C.V. called The Kid from Not-So-Big.  Here's the problem... where is it?  Maybe on YouTube, maybe.  But in a pinch, you can see Hudsucker and The Game.  How do you go about procuring a copy of The Kid from Not-So-Big?  I tried Scarecrow Video, and they don't have it.  Now, if Scarecrow doesn't have something, well... first of all, their database search must be getting a whole lot better.  It used to be that if you searched for a title like The Kid from Not-So-Big, you'd get about a thousand hits for "kid" and for "big"... you get the idea.  Now, it's like trying to find out something about Wesley Gibson!  Not going to happen!  Same goes for Lifetime Contract.  Weird.  I mean, you'd think that the Lifetime Network would be all over that.  Must be too old or something.  Now, Midnight Fear.  Scarecrow's got that!  Alas, Scarecrow's falling on hard times.  But they're keeping their chin up about it, getting a little boastful on their website.  I mean... really?  You're telling me that no one in L.A. or New York's got a bigger video collection than this upstart in Seattle?  Harumph!  I guess L.A.'s more focused on movie memorabilia rather than the movies themselves.
I was going to mention The Dukes of Hazzard, but... meh.  Unknown episodes?  How can this be?  All of a sudden, everyone wants to be a paid expert on the Dukes of Hazzard TV show?  Let's get this clarified, people!  I will say this about John Schneider.  Total method actor.  I think I saw him once on Bill Maher's show on ABC, and his big thing was protecting the U.S. flag from... whatever.  Oh, right, he wanted a Constitutional amendment to prevent people from burning the flag.  Well, he's true to the character, all right!  Wonder how he feels about the ol' Stars and Bars now!

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