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Ennio Morricone: Farewell To ‘The Maestro’

When it comes to film-making, it’s usually the actors and directors who get most of the credit and acclaim. The composers of the music rarely get a mention, yet their work is often just as, if not more important. These composers have to tell a story, convey emotions and even further plots without using words, for the most part. Take the infamous shower scene from Hitchcock’s Psycho as example, do you think it would’ve been as effective without that screeching, nerve shattering music from Bernard Herrmann? Or would’ve Superman: The Movie been as effective without John Williams’ theme tune that screams ‘Sup-er-man!’ without even using words?

Some of the greatest films ever feature some of the finest and most memorable music, often from unsung or overlooked composers. Recently, the world of cinema lost one of its greats with the passing of Ennio Morricone and I’m taking the opportunity to remember the man known as ‘The Maestro’. Even if you don’t recognise the name, I guarantee you know at least one of his pieces of music, one in particular, a piece that is often whistled and referenced in many, many films.

ENNIO MORRICONE YOUNG

Ennio Morricone was born on the 10th of November, 1928 in Rome, Italy.  At the age of six, Ennio composed his first ever piece of music and learned how to play the trumpet. From then on, he fell in love with music and began writing more and more. In 1953 when he was twenty-five years old, Ennio landed a job writing tunes for radio shows which soon gave him the opportunity to write for TV and movies. In 1954, Ennio began composing music for films, though he was uncredited or often used the pseudonyms Dan Savio and Leo Nichols. 1961 saw his first credited film score with Il Federale (The Fascist). The early sixties was also when Ennio Morricone found fame with the film genre for which he would become most synonymous, the western, with 1963’s Duello nel Texas (Gunfight at Red Sands). But it was the following year in 1964 when he teamed up with director Sergio Leone when Ennio’s western score a really got noticed.

Due to budget constraints, Ennio Morricone couldn’t have a full orchestra for his music, so he had to improvise. Using a mix of whistles, whip cracks, the Jewish harp, various other sound effects and voices plus a few more conventional musical instruments, he created the score to Per un pugno di dollari, or to give it it’s English title, A Fistful of Dollars. This kick-started a hugely successful partner and friendship between Ennio Morricone and director Sergio Leone. Ennio’s music for the film was otherworldly, almost abstract it is structure, yet wonderfully melodic at the same time. A film score that would go down in history as one of the most influential ever made.

Two more films followed and they soon collectively became known as The Dollars Trilogy. 1965’s For a Few Dollars More saw Ennio Morricone’s experimentation with sound effects help cement his unorthodox and almost trademark style to creating music. But it was the third and final film of the three where Ennio’s music became immortal, and it is one tune in particular that is forever embedded into my brain. You know how I said everyone knows at least one Ennio Morricone piece of music? Well, this is that piece…

That one piece of music, that two minutes and fifty-five seconds of pure perfection from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is THE western score. Whenever I watch a film and there’s a stand-off between the good guys and the bad guys, I always instinctively hear that piece of music in my head. Some films have even used it, or a variation of it for similar good/bad guy scenes. It has become synonymous with stand-offs, a musical cue to let you know that some bad shit is about to go down. This is easily Ennio Morricone’s most famous piece and it has had a long lasting legacy through cinema and beyond.

Through the sixties and seventies, Ennio’s music could be found in plenty of westerns. But his music also appeared in dramas, thrillers, horror and all sorts of flicks. Exorcist II: The Heretic is the very, very bad sequel to one of the greatest horror films ever made. The film is universally hated by anyone with an ounce of film-taste, yet its music is often praised, music by Ennio Morricone. In 1979, Ennio was finally nominated for his first Oscar for his music from the romantic period flick, Days of Heaven. Alas, he didn’t win, losing out to John Williams for his amazing ‘Sup-er-man!’ theme.

Ennio Morricone’s music can be found in many films through the eighties and nineties, he just never stopped working. Sword and sorcery box-office bomb, Red Sonja. The amazing, The Untouchables. The Mel Gibson starring Hamlet and the taught thriller, In the Line of Fire all featured an Ennio score, just to name a few of his flicks. But of course, I can’t talk about Ennio Morricone’s scores and not mention one horror film in particular…

THE THING

Yes, the John Carpenter classic The Thing also has some of that Ennio music magic. One of the first horror flicks I remember seeing as a kid and one that has left a very lasting impression on me. That dog scene, man, that scene is the one single scene that got me so interested in horror films. I loved the gore, the effects, the fact it scared the shit out of me as a kid. But now when I watch The Thing, what hits me harder than the gore effects is the music. There’s this sense of hopelessness with the score, a feeling of dread and despair. Seeing as John Carpenter has always said that this film is an apocalyptic one, the music really works well to convey that foreboding feeling.

Ennio Morricone’s career never seemed to die down, he was popular and very much in demand as a composer for decades, even right up to today. One of his biggest fans was the writer and director Quentin Tarantino. Quentin had always wanted to work with Ennio many times over the years, but one obstacle or another always got in the way, usually a conflict of work patterns. Still, Quentin did use some of Ennio’s music for his films. Kill Bill (both parts), Death Proof and Inglourious Basterds all feature Ennio Morricone music. They were not original recordings though, just music taken from other films. Ennio did eventually write an original song, Ancora Qui, for a Quentin’s flick, Django Unchained. The film also featured three pre-existing pieces from Ennio Morricone’s extensive back catalogue. Their relationship blossomed and Ennio even presented Quentin with a Life Achievement Award at the International Rome Film Festival in 2013.

ENNIO MORRICONE QUENTIN

Then for his next flick, Quentin Tarantino finally realised his dream of having Ennio Morricone score an entire film. 2015’s The Hateful Eight saw Ennio provide music for the picture. Despite a stunning career spanning seven decades (at the time), Ennio Morricone never won an Oscar for his film scores. A total of five nominations between 1979 to 2001, but not a single win… until The Hateful Eight. Yes, finally in 2016, Ennio Morricone was nominated for and won the Oscar for Best Original Score, he was eighty-seven years old too. Ennio was the oldest person to win an Oscar at the time.

ENNIO MORRICONE OSCAR

What’s also amazing is that Ennio Morricone continued composing music into his nineties. In fact, the animated, The Canterville Ghost (based on the Oscar Wilde short story) to be released later this year features the last of his original scores.

Ennio Morricone died on the 6th of July, 2020 aged ninety-one due to complications after suffering a fall.

ENNIO MORRICONE B&W

“If you scroll through all the movies I’ve worked on, you can understand how I was a specialist in westerns, love stories, political movies, action thrillers, horror movies, and so on. So in other words, I’m no specialist, because I’ve done everything. I’m a specialist in music.”

– Ennio Morricone

Honor Blackman

Yes I know I’m a little bit late on this, but I’ve been busy with other writing projects. Still, I had to make time to remember Honor Blackman.

Honor Blackman was born on the 22nd of August, 1925. When Honor turned 15, her parents paid for acting lessons for her at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. While holding down a clerical assistant job and following her graduation from acting school, Honor appeared in a few stage plays in small roles. Hungry for more, she began seeking out a career in acting.

Her film acting career started when she appeared as Emma in the 1947 film, Fame Is the Spur, in a minor, non-speaking uncredited role. But it was the 60s when Honor’s film career really took off. A very memorable performance as the Greek goddess of women, Hera in the classic Jason and the Argonauts from 1963 got her noticed and she began to land more roles in both TV and the movies. In 1968, she starred in the western flick Shalako, alongside Sean Connery… not for the first time.

Honor also went on to find TV fame with The Avengers. Bowler hat and umbrella used as a sword The Avengers not Iron Man punching Thanos in the face The Avengers. A show where Honor played Cathy Gale, the first female partner of slick British spy, John Steed. Of course one can’t talk about Honor and The Avengers without mentioning…

Honor also appeared in the greatest TV show of all time Columbo, alongside the legend that was Peter Falk in the Dagger of the Mind episode. Other TV roles include Dr Who, Minder on the Orient Express, a spin-off from the British TV show Minder, Casualty and perhaps her most famous TV role (that wasn’t The Avengers), The Upper Hand. The British version of the popular US sit-com, Who’s the Boss?

Honor Blackman’s acting career continued through the 80s and 90s and even into the 2000s. 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary featured Honor Blackman and she also appeared in the comedy/zombie flick Cockneys vs Zombies in 2012. Her screen acting career spanned eight decades.

Of course, I’ve saved the best for last. Honor Blackman was my all time favourite Bond girl in the quintessential James Bond flick, Goldfinger (1964). There’s just something(s) about this particular Bond film that make it a classic.

Pussy Galore

You have the best actor playing James Bond with Sean Connery, then you have Bond iconography such as the Aston Martin DB5 with all it’s gadgets which has gone down in cinematic history. There’s the greatest Bond song of all time sung by Shirley Bassey and then there’s the bad guy, Goldfinger himself with that immortal comeback line…

“No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die.”

–  Auric Goldfinger

Finally, we have Honor Blackman herself as the greatest Bond girl ever, Pussy Galore. She was sexy, straight talking and tough. Her introduction to the film is stuff of legend, the greatest Bond girl moment ever.

That sultry smile as Bond wakes up, those deep blue eyes and of course, that raspy voice. Honor was amazing in Goldfinger and more than held her own against Sean Connery.

Honor died of natural causes aged 94 in Lewes, East Sussex on the 5th of April, 2020.

Honor Blackman 2

“I’m told leather drives men up the wall. I like wearing it because it because it feels nice.”

– Honor Blackman

Spam, Spam, Spam, Terry Jones, Spam, Spam And Spam

I really don’t think I can write anything that hasn’t already been said about Monty Python. A pioneering group of comedians who changed British, and indeed, the world of comedy forever. I could sit here and talk about things like the parrot sketch, the lumberjack song, silly walks, spam and all that… but it’s been done hundreds of times over already

The sad news of Terry Jones’ death, while upsetting, was hardly a shock. He’d been suffering from dementia for a while now. He was diagnosed with the awful disease back in 2015, or as he put it…

“I’ve got dementia, you know. My frontal brain lobe has absconded.”

–  Terry Jones

Yet even while on limited time and slowly loosing his humanity, his mind, his very person, he still remained active. According to Terry’s very close friend and fellow Python, Michael Palin, Terry loved to go for long walks, enjoyed a beer, loved watching classic movies and would talk as much as he could, right up to the point where the dementia eventually took over. Having lost family members to dementia myself, I know just how soul destroying it is.

Terry Jones

I can’t really remember how or when my love of Monty Python began, but I do remember my older brother having a copy of Monty Python and the Holy Grail on VHS and us watching and re-watching it, almost to the point of it becoming religious. It was probably the first film that I recall that I could watch and watch, yet never get bored of it. I knew all of the dialogue by heart and would quote the film in every day life. I could re-enact scenes with pinpoint accuracy. Knew the lyrics to all the songs (“I have to push the pram a lot.”). I loved and still love the absurd silliness of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Of course, there were more Python films. The epicly funny and hugely controversial Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the bizarre Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. They did several live shows over the years including a reunion with all the remaining Python members in 2014, Monty Python Live (Mostly). This was where his fellow cast first noticed something was not right with Terry. He was known among his colleges to be fantastic at remembering lines. But during this live show, he had to rely on cleverly hidden cue-cards and a teleprompter to deliver his dialogue correctly and on time. If you have ever seen the show, then you can really tell Terry was struggling at times, yet he still did it for the fans and for himself.

Terry co-wrote and directed all of the main Python films, but his talents went way beyond just being part of one of the most famous and influential comedy troupes ever. He had a very successful TV and movie career outside of all the Monty Python stuff as a writer, director and actor. He wrote the screenplay for one of my all time favourite childhood films…

Labyrinth

Labyrinth, a wonderful melding of Jim Henson’s puppets, fantasy story telling and David Bowie’s codpiece. Loved this film as a child and still adore it today. You can really tell Terry wrote this one, the humour is there, it has that distinct Jones flavour and style. Terry also wrote and directed the overlooked Absolutely Anything. A fun comedy about a man (Simon Pegg) who is given the power to have/do anything he wants by some aliens… who are all played by the other surviving Pythons. It’s also the final film of Robin Williams.

Terry also loved history and wrote many books covering medieval history for children and adults. Terry Jones’s War on the War on Terror was a collection of articles and editorials published as a paperback condemning the Iraq War. He also wrote several poems that were featured in the long running Poetry Review magazine. In 2016, Terry Jones received a Lifetime Achievement award for his outstanding contribution to television and film.

There is just way too much to cover that this man was responsible for. His talent never seemed to end. He was funny, articulate, charming, clever and sadly, now gone.

I guess there is only really one way to bring this article to an end…

Life of Brian

Terry Jones 2

“I don’t think people who have children are acting selfishly or unselfishly. Having a child who’ll be loved, to parents who love each other, is the important thing.”

–  Terry Jones

The Film That (Probably) Killed John Wayne And Several Others

Hey folks. So first off and for my regular readers. I know I didn’t publish much on this blog last year. I was busy concentrating on other writing projects and that’s pretty much how things will be this year too. I made some great connections in 2019 and got my foot in a few doors, wrote a lot, published 2 books and almost finished a 3rd too, which I’ll be publishing in the next couple of months. Then I also have a few other big writing projects simmering away for 2020. So I won’t have the time to dedicate to this blog as I have in the past, but I’ll still be publishing a few articles through the year as and when I can.

And for my first article of 2020, I take a look at the film that most probably caused the death of one of Hollywood’s greatest acting legends, as well as other connected deaths and some interesting tit-bits about the film as a whole…

The Man

Marion Mitchell Morrison, a.k.a John Wayne, a.k.a The Duke. One of the all time Hollywood greats, a true tough guy known for playing heroic cowboys, cops, soldiers and much more. A multi-award winning/nominated actor, including winning the Oscar for Best Actor in 1963 for the film True Grit. A man with a worldwide fanbase that included my granddad. As a child growing up, I remember whenever we’d go round to visit my grandparents, granddad would always have his films on and 9 times out of 10, it would be a John Wayne flick.

John Wayne 2

It was the 11th of June, 1979 when John Wayne died of stomach cancer… but the fact he died of cancer is not that unusual. He was a heavy smoker and had a 6 pack a day habit. It’s the fact that more than 90 other people who all worked on the same film as John had developed some form of cancer and by 1980, 46 of those had died from the disease. That film was 1956’s The Conqueror.

The Film

I guess that today, some would call the film “racist” or “culturally inappropriate” due to the fact that white American actor John Wayne plays the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan, complete with some questionable make-up to make him darker and appear more Mongolian. But even if we ignore the slight racism by today’s standards… it’s just not a very good film at all. It was critically panned when released and has gone down in cinematic history as one of those “so bad it’s good” flicks.

The Conqueror poster

Directed by Dick Powell, produced by Howard Hughes (yes THE Howard Hughes) and starring John Wayne along with Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead and Pedro Armendáriz. The Conqueror is a hot mess of a film. From terrible miscasting to a nonsensical and boring plot, with some of the worst dialogue you’ll hear in a movie…

“I feel this Tartar woman is for me.”

– John Wayne

The Conqueror tells the story of Genghis Khan (John Wayne) falling in love with, Bortai (Susan Hayward). When Genghis Khan kidnaps Bortai, he kick-starts a war. Long story short, there’s some fighting, betrayal and Bortai ends up falling for the Mongol chief and they live happily ever after. As stupid as the plot is… it is loosely based on fact… very, very loosely.

As I said before, The Conqueror is a terrible film and is considered one of the worst films ever made and definitely one of John Wayne’s poorest flicks. It’s terribleness and being slated by critics at the time led to the closure of legendary production studio RKO Radio Pictures due to losing so much money. And if killing off a world renowned film studio was not enough, it could be argued it also killed off a lot of it’s cast and crew too.

The Cancer Controversy

And so we get to the meat of this article, just how can a film give more than 90 people cancer? Well it all boils down to where they chose to shoot the film… in the vicinity of a nuclear weapon testing site. Pretty much all exterior shots were filmed at St. George, Utah which was several miles downwind of the United States government’s Nevada National Security Site. The same location with a good chunk of nuclear fallout from testing during Operation Upshot–Knothole in 1953. And if that was not bad enough, then Howard Hughes paid to have 60 tons of the dirt from the site shipped back to Hollywood so any filming done at the studio there would match up with the location.

Operation Upshot–Knothole

The deaths include, but not limited to the film’s director, Dick Powell, who died of cancer in 1963. Co-star Pedro Armendáriz took his own life in 1963 after he was diagnosed with cancer in 1960 and learned it became terminal later. Other actors like Agnes Moorehead died of uterine cancer in 1974. Leading lady, Susan Hayward was diagnosed with brain cancer in 1974 and died after suffering a seizure in 1975. Then of course, there was John Wayne himself who died of stomach cancer in 1979.

And that was just the main cast and crew as many others also died from various forms of cancer by 1980 that worked on the film. Then there were cancer scares of people not even in the film at all. Both of John Wanye’s sons, Michael and Patrick visited the location where the film was being  shot and both of them developed cancer related conditions. Michael with skin cancer and Patrick had a tumour removed from his breast. Even Susan Hayward’s son, Tim had to have a benign tumour removed from his mouth. Plus other visitors had to be treated for cancer related illnesses.

Howard Huges

Then we get to eccentric business magnate Howard Hughes who was the main producer on the film. Well if you know anything about Howard, then you know he went a bit off the rails in his latter years… and that’s putting it mildly. He went completely bat-shit crazy. Becoming a recluse, living in a Las Vegas hotel for years and storing his urine in bottles were some of his more tame endeavours. While hiding away from public life, he bought the rights to The Conqueror outright and every single print of the film for around $12 million. He reportedly would watch the film on a loop day and night during his final years before dying of kidney failure in 1976.

Around 220 people worked on the film, an estimated 91 of them developed some form of cancer and a total of 46 of them died due to the disease. And those numbers don’t include visitors to the set or the Native American Paiute extras who also worked on the film but were not credited. So the cancer deaths could very well be higher.

I once read a review of a film where the critic made the jokey comment that the film was so bad that it gave them cancer. Well in the case of The Conqueror that claim could very well be true.

John Wayne 3

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”

– John Wayne

Rutger Hauer: Like Tears In The Rain…

Very few actors are distinctive and really stand out against the sea of Hollywood pretty boys. Very few actors posses that ‘something’ that you can’t quite explain what it is, but you know it’s there when you see it. Very few actors can play a villain and yet, you enjoy them for it. The great Alan Rickman was one of those very few who we sadly lost a handful of years back. And more recently, we lost another one of those very few.

Rutger Hauer sadly died a few days ago, though his passing was only made public recently. It’s pretty hard to know where to start when remembering an actor as diverse and varied as Hauer, but I do know I want to save the best for last. I guess the best thing to do is start with a brief profile.

Rutger Hauer Gif

Rutger Oelsen Hauer was born on the 23rd of January, 1944 in Breukelen, Netherlands during World War II. In fact, the Netherlands was under German occupation at the time of his birth. Aged 15, Hauer left school and joined the the Dutch Merchant Navy where he spent a year travelling the world. He returned home and signed up at the Academy for Theatre and Dance in Amsterdam for acting classes but soon left to join the Royal Netherlands Army where he trained as a combat medic. Hauer decided to give the whole acting thing another go and and graduated from acting school in 1967.

Rutger Hauer landed a few small roles in his early acting career, but it was in the Paul Verhoeven directed flick, Turkish Delight from 1973 where he really got noticed. He began to take on more roles in his homeland but struggled to breakthrough in America. His American film debut was in 1981 where Hauer acted alongside Hollywood heavyweight Sylvester Stallone in the flick Nighthawks. It’s a rather bland and dull action/thriller but I have to say that Rutger Hauer’s performance is brilliant as the main villain, but most of his scenes were cut out of the released film because (supposedly) Stallone felt he was being upstaged and so requested that Hauer’s part be cut. There’s said to be two versions of the film shown to test audiences at the time. The one with all of Hauer’s scenes, which test audiences loved. Then there is the one with a lot of his scenes removed that was not as popular… yet it was the latter one that was released to the public.

Nighthawks.jpg

Then the following year in 1983, Hauer appeared in a film that many people consider his very best performance, Blade Runner. Here, Hauer played Roy Batty a replicant (kind of an android thing created by man) who was in search of his creator to ask for more life before he dies. Out hunting these replicants is Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) who has been ordered to ‘retire’ any replicants he comes across. Well there’s a lot more to the film than that, but if I were to go into detail, I’d be here all day attempting to explain it. Basically, just go watch Blade Runner (any of the numerous versions), it’s amazing.

Philip K. Dick who wrote the novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? on which the film is based had this to say about Hauer’s performance in the flick:

“The perfect Batty, cold, Aryan, flawless”

– Philip K. Dick

The man himself had this to say in a 2001 interview:

“Blade Runner needs no explanation. It just is. All of the best. There is nothing like it. To be part of a real masterpiece which changed the world’s thinking. It’s awesome.”

– Rutger Hauer

The infamous “Tears in the rain” speech delivered by Hauer’s Batty at the end of the flick was rewritten from the original by Hauer. He then presented it to director Ridley Scott who loved it and included it in the final cut of the film.

Rutger Hauer Blade Runner

After Blade Runner, Hauer finally began to be noticed in Hollywood as the roles started to flood in and he had a steady and respected career through the 80s in flicks such as Flesh & Blood, Eureka and Ladyhawke to name a few. In 1987 he starred in the action picture Wanted: Dead or Alive which is a strange reboot/remake/sequel of the T.V. series of the same name. In this one, Hauer plays Nick Randall an ex-CIA operative turned bounty hunter. Anyway, the character he plays is said to be a descendant of Josh Randall who was played by Steve McQueen in the 1958 T.V. show… which itself was a spin-off of another T.V. show called Trackdown.

Rutger Hauer Blind Fury

Oh and there was the still brilliantly entertaining Blind Fury from 1989 where Hauer plays a blind Vietnam War veteran who is highly skilled with a sword. He sets out to find one of his missing ex-veteran friends. Blind Fury is actually a remake of a Japanese flick called Zatoichi Challenged from 1967. I love this film, it’s a bit silly but it’s meant to be. Blind Fury is an action/comedy/samurai film that’s a lot of fun.

The 90s is where Rutger Hauer’s career really took off as he began to appear in more and more films. Wedlock, Nostradamus, Surviving the Game (love this one), Split Second and of course the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer before the T.V. show even existed. Through the 90s, Hauer was hugely prolific and did a lot of sci-fi  and action flicks. But for me, the main thing from the 90s I’ll always remember him for was the Guinness (Pure Genius) ads here in the U.K. The ads were bizarre, strange, obscure and yet they just worked, they were very ‘Rutgery’. You can check them out here.

 

As the 2000s began, Hauer’s career began to dry up a little, he was still working but you didn’t see him all that often until the awesome 2005 comic book bought to life flick Sin City where he played Cardinal Roark. After Sin City, Rutger’s career took off once more and he continued with his very successful career all though the 2000s. He appeared in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy with Batman Begins. But my favourite film of his from the 2000s was the overlooked, black comedy, exploitation flick Hobo with a Shotgun. This one is so ridiculously over the top and stupid that it’s genius. The title tells you the whole plot, Hauer plays a hobo who get a shotgun and cleans up the neighbourhood. It’s a stylised, 70s exploitation flick and it’s glorious.

As well as film work, Hauer had a successful T.V. career too appearing in shows like Alias, Smallville, True Blood, Porters and many more. He even featured in a couple of video games with Observer and Kingdom Hearts III.

Of course Rutger Hauer fans reading this would’ve noticed a glaring omission from his acting credits I’ve not yet covered. As I said earlier, I’ve saved the best for last…

Rutger Hauer The Hitcher

Many people including Hauer himself say that Blade Runner’s Roy Batty was his best performance. But for me it was John Ryder from the 1986 psychological horror picture The Hitcher. This is Rutger at his most ‘Rutgerist’. He’s cold, manipulative, dark, murderous, twisted… and yet utterly charming and endearing too. This is that ‘something’ I alluded to before when an actor had that thing that just works and is perfect casting. There is a great mystery surrounding the character, one that film fans have theorised over for years and I aim to offer my own view soon-ish.

The Hitcher is a tense and suspenseful horror flick that really lacks things like blood and gore. It’s more about cerebral horror. The film was pretty much a commercial flop when released and  slated by many respected critic at the time.

“This movie is diseased and corrupt. I would have admired it more if it had found the courage to acknowledge the real relationship it was portraying between Howell and Rutger, but no: It prefers to disguise itself as a violent thriller, and on that level it is reprehensible.”

– Roger Ebert

It’s really quite hard to find a positive review of the film at the time. But all that proves to me is that these critics have no idea what they are talking about. The Hitcher is perhaps too subtle for some people to grasp. It’s not an out and out gore-fest, it’s not overtly violent compared to other horror films of the day. It’s just more indirect with it’s message and has a lot more layers to it than you first realise. As I say, I aim on doing a a much deeper look at Hauer’s John Ryder at some point to highlight what I mean. But The Hitcher is brilliant and by far my favourite Rutger Hauer performance.

As of writing and even though he is now gone, Hauer still has a handful of films currently going through post-production to be released later down the line. So we’ve still not seen the last of the great actor yet.

Rutger Hauer died on the 19th of July, 2019 following an as of yet unspecified illness. He was 75 years old.

“I hate guns, I think they’re the worst thing ever invented.”

– Rutger Hauer