Monday, November 03, 2008
Lusty Men & Cockfighter
Was it mere chance or some higher intuitive cosmic thing that my Monday double bill is Cockfighter and The Lusty Men, the latter because it was on TCM today, Cock cause I finally bought it at the soon-to-move Kim's ($7). I could go on for paragraphs about the self destructive but poetic and essential male traits of competition, animal languages, gambling, booze, womanizing, slouchiness, and adrenalin addiction. But no, I'd rather talk about how LAME it is that neither of these have been restored for beautiful DVD releases. I'm glad Alpha Video put out Cock, and the print aint too bad. But I imagine it would look extra pretty shined up. The Lusty Men aint been out since some old VHS tape you can get on Amazon for $40. What the hell is up with that? Both these films should be taught in men's therapy groups and shown before fight club competitions, at the same time, what the hell's the difference?
How much do you want to bet that it's because the overpaid and therefore cowardly executives at some of these big labels want to shy away from "controversy" with the sexually connotative names? Can you hear them saying "Uh, we're not comfortable being associated with titles that have words like lusty and cock in them?" In that question mark at the end of every statement sort of way? Like they're paid to not take any chances? None? Not one chance that their label might be guilty by association?
And of course there's cruelty to animal issues. Those cocks are really fighting. And those bulls are really chasing and the broncos are really bucking. Ray is deep up in the nostrils of those bulls, and Hellman's colorful cocks look beautiful fighting in slow motion.
The result of all this big league timidity is that two classics of iconoclastic male cinema by two of the great iconoclastic male artists of their day, Nicholas Ray and Monte Hellman, are coasting around the dusty shelves while the parent companies play it safe with tepid tripe. Why isn't there a Nicholas Ray boxed set? What are they afraid of? Are they afraid that men in America might reclaim the poetic warrior beauty and love that is theirs by right and not let it continue to be sluiced into blandness by lowest common denominator CGI patronizing? Or is it just that they prefer to polish films that suck rather than having to listen to jokes about cocks and lusty men? At any rate, Lusty Men would have been perfect to piggy back on Brokeback awhile back and would look extra fine with a Criterion imprint tomorrow, and ditto for Cock, on all counts.