We start off with this edition of SIDE ORDERS with a fascinating, mysterious, graphically boisterous trailer for one of the world's perfect drive-in movies: Monte Hellman's 1971 masterpiece Two-Lane Blacktop.
Despite his steady inprovement (there's not a movie I'm looking forward to more than his Lincoln bio-pic in 2009), Steven Spielberg has never helmed a better scene than this transportative one from 1977's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Though there are no stars present here, no effects utilized (except for the Oscar-winning sound and cinematography), and none of John Williams' landmark score as background, this harried segment set inside an air traffic control station is THE scene that captured every CE3K viewer's strict attention. Following The Godfather and Jaws, Close Encounters instantly became a pair with that year's other monster hit Star Wars as the two 1977 movies that truly ushered in the blockbuster era of moviemaking.
John Cameron Mitchell followed his 2001 on- and off-screen debut with 2006's controversial Shortbus (which graphically follows the sex lives of a variety of NYC denizens). But his performance and direction of Hedwig and the Angry Inch is still his to best. No wonder, since he performed the role off-Broadway hundreds of times. Still, given that, his envisioning of the piece's premiere song, "The Origin of Love," written by immanently talented Stephen Trask, is nothing less than a revelation. He uses the animation of Emily Hubley (the daughter of renowned animators John and Faith Hubley) to add punch to the company's already electric performance of this unforgettable song. Watch and learn...
Here we have Psycho and the greatest trailer ever filmed. Unintentional star (yeah, right...) Alfred Hitchcock was still producing the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series when he had the idea to adapt Robert Bloch's stunning Ed Gein-inspired novel into a big-screen event (Hitch's TV photographer John L. Russell and art director Robert Clatworthy were both justifyably nominated for Oscars, along with Hitchcock as director and Janet Leigh as supporting actress). So funny, creative, with such a ham at its center, the Psycho trailer is a great little film unto itself. Imagine a contemporary filmmaker doing a trailer like this these days! It's an impossibility, though I'd love to see it happen.
And then imagine Hitch doing it again ten years later!!!! Here's his darker, mostly on-location trailer for his first British movie in 50 years, 1971's Frenzy (which I consider one of the most personal and perverse films of the great director's career).
Hitch was and is definitely the most identifiable film director ever. Only Charlie Chaplin comes close.