HARDCORE
1979, Sony Repertory, 109 min, USA, Dir: Paul Schrader

This underrated drama from writer-director Paul Schrader is anchored by one of George C. Scott’s greatest performances. He plays Jake Van Dorn, a conservative Midwestern businessman whose daughter disappears during a church-sponsored trip to California. Horrified to learn she may now be working in the L.A. porn industry, Van Dorn enlists a sleazy private investigator (Peter Boyle) and a wary streetwalker (Season Hubley) to find the girl.


DILLINGER
1973, Park Circus/MGM, 107 min, USA, Dir: John Milius

For his feature directorial debut, high-powered screenwriter John Milius crafted an action-packed biopic about Depression-era criminal John Dillinger, because “of all the outlaws, he was the most marvelous.” Warren Oates is marvelous himself in the title role, with Harry Dean Stanton and Richard Dreyfuss as members of his gang, Ben Johnson as the FBI agent on Dillinger’s trail and Cloris Leachman as “the Lady in Red” who led the notorious gangster to his bloody end at a Chicago movie theater.


FIRST BLOOD
1982, Rialto, 93 min, Dir: Ted Kotcheff

“It wasn't my war! You asked me, I didn't ask you! And I did what I had to do to win!” Sylvester Stallone created another screen icon in John Rambo, a Vietnam vet driven to violence in this box office hit. His bravura performance is balanced by that of Brian Dennehy as the small-town sheriff who doesn’t know what he’s dealing with, and Richard Crenna as the Special Forces colonel who does. Though the film doesn’t skimp on action, Kotcheff’s equal emphasis on character makes FIRST BLOOD the best of the Rambo series.


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