Sunday, April 16, 2017

Auteur Watch - Wendell Franklin

Alas, this auteur has since moved on to the big director's chair in the Sky.  Incidentally, what's the deal with those cheap-ass folding chairs with the cloth back?  You're an American film director!  More powerful than God!  GET A CHAIR THAT REFLECTS THAT.  If you're really pissed off, get someone ELSE to throw it FOR you!  Man!  Anyway, you take a look at Wendell Franklin's body of work, and you see a happier time, the swinging 1960s, and some of the best parts of it reflected in the culture at large.  An episode (or two) of "McHale's Navy," for God's sake!  Television doesn't get more classic!  Now, check out this poster that says "She's all out for kicks... and every inch of her spells EXCITEMENT!"  Just think about that for a second.  The title?  Kitten with a Whip.  Take another second to soak that in.  I know, it's asking a lot in this era of SmartPhones.  Head down, thumb at work... who's got time for anything anymore, really?  ...what was I talking about?  Oh, right.  Kitten with a Whip.  And who's the star?  Oh, just Ann-Margret.  You know, controversial for the '60s.  You'd never see a poster like that today, that's for sure.  And the latest incarnation of Ghost in the Shell probably qualifies!
Then we got How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days... I mean, How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life.  Then there's Big Daddy... no, not the delightful Adam Sandler one.  One even better!  For those of you who were watching "Feud," either religiously or semi- so, and subsequently became a new fan of Victor Buono, it's a vehicle built around him, just for him, with Tennessee Williams-type themes to it.  Maybe not as controversial for the '50s and '60s, mind you.
Now, you and I hate to generalize, but let's take what we've got so far.  You might say it's kind of light, whimsical fare, right?  So why did it all change?  And I think it's fair to say that it did change, right?  I mean, take a look at Wendell's full-on directorial debut.  A single effort, unfortunately.  It's called The Bus is ComingNow, sure, I'm just going by its poster, but a film's poster is kind of the window into its soul, right?  Take Madea's Big Happy Family, for example.  You've got nods to 2010 entries like Black Swan and True Grit, and of course a nod to classics like "The Brady Bunch" and The Godfather.  What an icon whore.  Well, the poster for The Bus is Coming is a black dude with a gun to his head.  A long way from Ann-Margret fun time happy hour.  Then we got 1975's Deliver Us from Evil, where Wendell finally said to himself, screw directing, I want to produce for a change.  So what happened?  Was it the culture in general, or was it some personal experience that shook Wendell to his core, where he finally understood why everyone in Hollywood "hates this town"?  Well, personally, and mind you, I'm no professional psychologist, just the usual regular amateur one that used the internet at a Holiday Inn Express last night... just spitballing here... I'm thinking it was the year that Wendell spent on a little something called "The Bill Cosby Show."  This mouth is rated X, indeed... okay, let's move on.

No comments: