Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald / The Other Side of Bonnie Clyde |
Actors: George Russell, George Edgley, Arthur Nations, Charles Mazyrack, Joreta C. Cherry
Director: Larry Buchanan
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Image Entertainment Release Date: 02/10/2009 Run time: 173 minutes Rating: Nr
Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald
Steven Hellerstedt | 06/18/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This dvd offers a weird set of films from exploitation/schlockmeister Larry Buchanan, the low rent director of such cult favorites as Mars Needs Women and Common Law Wife.
*** - THE TRIAL OF LEE HARVEY OSWALD (1964) is a black-and-white preenactment of the trial of John F. Kennedy's assassin had Oswald not been shot and killed by Jack Ruby a few days after his arrest. The movie places the audience in the jury box and keeps it there. Everything takes place in the courtroom, the drama consisting solely of whatever heat is generated by lawyers cross-examining witnesses, with a stray objection being tossed and sustained or overruled by the judge. It's an interesting piece of speculation that's severely hobbled by the dearth of facts as known at the time. The movie presumes that Oswald acted alone, so conspiracy buffs might find this one borders on the outrageous. The action is static and the scope of inquiry is limited, but to the best of my knowledge this is film to deal with the Kennedy assassination. Its fascination, for me, at least, derives from the fact that it's a first response to a national tragedy before the Warren Report, Jim Garrison, and suchlike made the scene and muddied up things.
*** - Burl Ives narrates THE OTHER SIDE OF BONNIE AND CLYDE (1968), a documentary that assumes a strong pro-law enforcement attitude and concentrates most of its attention on the man who brought Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow down, Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. THE OTHER SIDE OF BONNIE AND CLYDE was released the year after the mega-hit (but now kind of forgotten) BONNIE AND CLYDE, with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. If you aren't familiar with the Beatty-Dunaway movie this one's going to look like it's shadow boxing. The first movie made Robin Hood-like heroes out of the outlaws, combined comedy with violence, and made light of the number of law enforcement officials the duo killed. BONNIE AND CLYDE embraced the bad guys, while THE OTHER SIDE OF... recoils in horror. This one is valuable mainly because it interviews witnesses and participants, including Hamer's widow and son, a woman who had been kidnapped by the pair, and Floyd Hamilton, brother of Bonnie and Clyde gang member Raymond Hamilton and, for a while in the `30s, himself an FBI public enemy #1.
I'm not familiar with any of Buchanan's cheese and sleaze movies, but after watching these two, I have to admire his opportunism. Neither of these movies are great, or even very good, but they followed hard on the heels and addressed controversial events and movies. Both are worth a look.
A "true crime" double-bill from director Larry Buchanan from
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 11/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Director Larry Buchanan might be best remembered for either "Mars Needs Women," and other science fiction monster films like "Zontar: Thing From Venus/The Eye Creatures," or sexploitation films like "Common Law Wife / Jennie Wife-Child." However, this DVD from the folks at Something Weird Video has a couple of "true crime" dramas from Buchanan. The thought of doing a faux trial for Oswald in Dallas in 1964 is certainly an intriguing idea, but whatever your expectations are, "The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald" will not meet it. Prosecuting Attorney Atkins (Arthur Nations) goes up against Defense Attorney Tyler (George R. Russell), with Charles Mazyrack as the silent Defendant (although we do hear Oswald himself on a radio interview explaining how he returned from the Soviet Union after defecting). This ia a good faith effort to put what was in the public record into a courtroom setting, but the results are simply not engaging. For me the scenario jumps the rails when Tyler insists that not only did Oswald not do it, if he did do it he was insane (a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too argument that works a lot better in high school debates than real world court rooms). By the time we learn that Oswald will not testify and the judge stares into the camera and asks us to come to our verdict, there is no need to even think about ever watching this movie ever again.
There was a 1977 made-for-television movie called "The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald," with John Pleshette in the title role and Lorne Green facing off against Ben Gazarra as the lawyers. My memory is that I watched it and when we got to the big finale and Oswald was going to testify he got shot (maybe my memory is hazy, but it is reinforced by a clear memory of the title character getting on the stand and mumbling so that nobody could hear him another TV movie about a trial that never happened, 1977's "The Court-Martial of George Armstrong Custer; put them together and they all share a lamentable unwillingness to get to what everybody would be interested in, the defendant on the witness stand). In 1986 SHOWTIME did "On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald" with prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi and defense attorney Gerry Spence, which avoided the whole question of Oswald testifying in reconsidering the evidence from the assassination (3 stars).
"The Other Side of Bonnie & Clyde" (1968) is clearly an attempt to capitalize on the success of "Bonnie and Clyde," and is more of a straightforward documentary, combining reenactments (Jo Enterentree as Bonnie Parker and Lucky Mosley as Clyde Barrow) with interviews and actual footage from 1934 when the wanted criminals were killed in a hail of gunfire on a road to market in Louisiana. The main interview is with the widow of Frank Hamer, the Texas lawman who set the trap for Bonnie and Clyde. The proceedings are given a nice veneer of respectability by having Burl Ives as the narrator. There are some disparaging references in the documentary to the violent nature of the Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway film, which ring hollow when we get to see one of the most disturbing images I have ever seen: a topless photograph of Bonnie's corpse. There is even a gratuitous close-up in which the camera zooms slowly to the bloody face, but not before it brings her naked breast into prominent display. But this is an exploitation film, so you have to expect stuff that goes over the line from time to time (4 stars).
The extra features on this DVD are not stellar, but in keeping with the Something Weird Video approach, specific to the double-bill. There are trailers from a whole bunch of Buchanan's films with not only "The Other Side of Bonnie & Clyde," but "A Bullet for Pretty Boy," "Common Law Wife," "Free, White and 21," and "High Yellow." "Hughes and Harlow: Angels in Hell" and "The Loch Ness Horror" are also included, to show that Buchanan had range beyond crime exploitation films. Then there are "More Crime-Crazed Trailers," with "Blast of Silence," "The Bloody Broad," "The Boss," "Cops Haters," "Four for the Morgue," the double-bill "Kiss the Blood off my Hand" and "Johnny Stool Pigeon," "Revolt in the Big House," "Shakedown," and "When Gangland Strikes." You will see the likes of Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, and Peter Falk in some of these trailers for movies where the key commonality seems to be you cannot see them anymore. The trio of shorts are decent enough, with "You Can't Beat the Rap" and not only "The March of Crime," but "The March of Crime 2nd Edition," where the true crime stories we get to hear about (a family in San Diego that commits suicide after their two daughters were raped in Tijuana) will make you forget all of the tawdry crime trailers. The extras are also 4 stars, which is how I split the difference and justify rounding up here."
Even stink would say this stinks...
S. DeGrilla | Orlando FL | 06/12/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald: Horrible! I'm actually dumber having seen this..."