RIP Peter “Easy Rider” Fonda (1940 – 2019)

Peter Fonda was American actor.

The Hired Hand (1971)

Everyone knows Peter Fonda from the film Easy Rider (1969) a cult film which is so well-known that it is actually a mainstream film.

I saw the film somewhere in the 1990s but hardly remember anything about it. Given the choice — knowing what I know now — between watching Easy Rider and its predecessor The Wild Angels (1966) I’d watch the latter, being that it is as hilarious as it is historiographical (in the sense that Wild Angels tells us more about the sixties zeitgeist than Easy Rider, I refer specifically to the speech featuring “We wanna be free to ride our machines without being hassled by The Man!”)

But now Fonda is dead and despite the dictum “de mortuis nisi nihil bonum“, a few things need to be said before the praise can begin:

“[Peter Fonda] had nowhere near the talent of his father Henry Fonda or sister Jane Fonda, but he was popular with young audiences from the early sixties to early seventies because he was good-looking, knew how to ride a motorcycle, made “hip” pictures with drug-related themes, and, to hide his acting limitations, smartly played characters who were tight-lipped, unemotional, and often wore shades.” —Cult Movie Stars (1991) by Danny Peary

Now for the praise.

Upon the death of an actor or director, I check YouTube for films featuring the corpse in question. And so it happened that I stumbled upon The Hired Hand (1971). Never heard of it before. Started reading about it. Appeared to be a revisionist western. Interesting category. Started watching. Liked the music. The story is that of a man who is tired of drifting the Wild West and returns home to the wife and child he left seven years earlier. She accepts him, not as a husband, but as a hired hand.

That same Danny Peary who called Fonda not a good actor calls The Hired Hand a “feminist western”.

Why?

Because the film pays lots of attention to the abandoned woman and her sexual needs during the departure of her husband. A sort of Penelope vs. Odysseus.

On two occasions Hannah (the abandoned wife) ruminates about her lust for sex. These dialogues are extremely interesting and the second scene, in which Oates touches the ankle of Bloom, is actually quite sexy.

The first conversation of her sex life is with returned husband (Fonda) who has heard rumors in town of her sexual escapades [47:00]:

“You hired men to sleep with,” says he.

She responds:

“Sometimes I’d have him or he’d have me whatever suits you.”

And in a second scene she says to Arch Harris (Oates) [54:00]:

“You probably think I’m pretty hot … Well I am … don’t wannabe but I am … I don’t know how many nights I set on the porch … watching the shed … hoping whoever was in there would come out … hoping and terrified in case he did … wouldn’t really matter whether it was you or him tonight.”

Anyway, above is the complete film.

I loved it.

RIP Henri Belolo (1936 – 2019)

Henri Belolo was a French music producer and songwriter active during the disco era.

He co-created The Ritchie Family, the Village People.

In the course of my research following his death, I found that Belolo was co-responsible for a horrifying version of “Aquarela do Brasil” by the Ritchie Family, and for the kitsch classics “Y.M.C.A.”, “In the Navy”, and “Go West” by the Village People.

However, it is Break Machine’s record “Street Dance” (1983) which I want to bring your attention here. A personal favorite, of however questionable taste it may appear to be.

RIP Toni Morrison (1931 – 2019)

Toni Morrison was a American writer perhaps best-known for her novel Beloved (1987).

Beloved has been banned from five U.S. schools since 2007. Common reasons for censorship include bestialityinfanticidesex, and violence.

Perhaps an offending passage is this one, in which Sethe pays the tombstone engraver with sex:

“You got ten minutes I’ll do it for free.

Ten minutes for seven letters. With another ten could she have gotten “Dearly” too? She had not thought to ask him and it bothered her still that it might have been possible–that for twenty minutes, a half hour, say, she could have had the whole thing, every word she heard the preacher say at the funeral (and all there was to say, surely) engraved on her baby’s headstone: Dearly Beloved.”

Margaret Atwood in Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose: 1983-2005 (2009) remarks:”Sethe wanted “Dearly Beloved [on the tombstone],” from the funeral service, but had only enough strength to pay for one word. Payment was ten minutes of sex with the tombstone engraver.”

‘Beloved’ film trailer

RIP D. A. “direct cinema” Pennebaker (1925 – 2019)

D. A. Pennebaker was an American documentary filmmaker and one of the pioneers of direct cinema. Documentaries about performing artists and politics were his primary subjects. He was known for his hand-held camera aesthetic.

Pennebaker was an important chronicler of sixties counterculture.

To the general audience, he is probably best-known for the film clip to “Subterranean Homesick Blues“, in which Dylan displays and discards a series of cue cards bearing selected words and phrases from the lyrics of the song.

RIP Bryan Magee (1930–2019)

Bryan Magee was a British philosopher noted for bringing philosophy to television in the programs Men of Ideas (1978) and The Great Philosophers (1987).

A quick check found some really boring television (I love boring television if it’s extremely boring, regular television is just plain boring).

In the beginning of this bit two men in suits are sitting on a sofa facing each other as well as the camera. They are John Passmore and Bryan Magee and they discuss David Hume in 1987:

And then there is this bit of 1977 when Magee interviews Herbert Marcuse:

RIP Rutger Hauer (1944 – 2019)

Rutger Hauer was a Dutch actor best known for his role as Roy Batty, the renegade replicant in the cult film Blade Runner (1982).

Especially famous is Hauer’s death soliloquy:

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

In 1986, The Hitcher came out in which Hauer plays a homicidal and suicidal psychopath who ends up killing the beautiful Nash (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh who was 26 at the time) in the most cruel fashion.

Luck has it that the full film of The Hitcher is on YouTube:

Jennifer Jason Leigh from 23:46 onward

The film encyclopedia Cult Movie Stars mentions Hauer’s “semipornographic lovemaking scenes with Monique van de Ven in Turkish Delight, Theresa Russell in Eureka, Sylvia Kristel in Mysteries and Jennifer Jason Leigh in Flesh + Blood.”

RIP Paul “The Realist” Krassner (1932 – 2019)

Paul Krassner February 1967 interview by Joe Pyne

Paul Krassner was an American author, satirist and political activist, founder of the freethought magazine The Realist (1958-2001) and a key figure in the counterculture of the 1960s.

He is famous for writing “The Parts That Were Left Out of the Kennedy Book” (1967), “My Acid Trip with Groucho” (1981) and for designing/and/or/distributing the FUCK COMMUNISM! (1963) and Disneyland Memorial Orgy (1967) poster.

He was severely criticized by Robin Morgan in 1970 in “Goodbye to All That“:

“Goodbye to lovely “pro-Women’s Liberationist” Paul Krassner, with all his astonished anger that women have lost their sense of humor”on this issue” and don’t laugh any more at little funnies that degrade and hurt them: farewell to the memory of his “Instant Pussy” aerosol-can poster[1], to his column for the woman-hating men’s magazine Cavalier, to his dream of a Rape-In against legislators’ wives, to his Scapegoats and Realist Nuns and cute anecdotes about the little daughter he sees as often as any properly divorced Scarsdale middle-aged father; goodbye forever to the notion that a man is my brother who, like Paul, buys a prostitute for the night as a birthday gift for a male friend, or who, like Paul, reels off the names in alphabetical order of people in the women’s movement he has fucked, reels off names in the best locker-room tradition—as proof that he’s no sexist oppressor.”– “Goodbye to All That” (1970) by Robin Morgan

The entire issue where he is depicted with a spray can of “instant pussy” referred to, can be read here[2].

RIP Rip Torn (1931 – 2019)

Rip Torn was an American actor. To an international audience he is remembered for his roles in Coming Apart (1969), Maidstone (1970), Tropic of Cancer (1970) and The Man Who Fell to Earth (1974).

Excerpt of Coming Apart
Famous hammer hitting scene of Maidstone
Tropic of Cancer, full Italian dubbed version
The Man Who Fell to Earth trailer

The book Cult Movie Stars describes his integrity and says that he “took parts only in films that he considered artistic and/or politically correct.”

He was also known for his on-set conflicts. While filming Maidstone for example, Torn struck director and star Norman Mailer in the head with a hammer. With the camera rolling, Mailer bit Torn’s ear and they wrestled to the ground. The fight continued until it was broken up by cast and crew members. The fight is featured in the film.