Aug 13, 2018

Cop




Undoubtedly, it is a sick yet rather fitting irony that mainstream Hollywood movie like, say, John Wick (2014), are oftentimes advertised with the line “From the Producers of…,” as if producers are the true auteurs and were not oftentimes behind destroying films and/or taking them away from their directors.  As cinema history has demonstrated, producers are rarely artistic people.  Sure, there are important historical film figures like D.W. Griffith, Alexander Korda and Stanley Kubrick that both produced and directed, but they typically did this as a means to maintain artistic control of their films and not simply because they were opportunistic producers that used their clout as a means to later establish a film directing career. Indeed, it is no coincidence that very few producers would go onto to become directors, though many have surely tried, including figures ranging from Bernd Eichinger to Richard D. Zanuck’s widow Lili Fini Zanuck to Denise Di Novi, but probably none of these individuals are quite as interesting and neglected as Kubrick’s early career producer James B. Harris. Indeed, as been mentioned by many people writing about the producer turned director, Kubrick once remarked to Harris, who collaborated with him on such classics as Paths of Glory (1957) and Lolita (1962), in late 1962 that, “You’ll never know complete satisfaction until you’ve tried your hand at directing,” which he ultimately accomplished only a couple years later with his little-seen Anglo-American Melvillian Cold War thriller The Bedford Incident (1965) starring Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier. While Harris arguably achieved his greatest and certainly his most idiosyncratic artistic success with his second feature Some Call It Loving (1973) aka Sleeping Beauty—a sort of similarly esoteric counterpart to his former partner Kubrick’s somewhat uneven swansong Eyes Wide Shut (1999)—Harris’ fourth feature Cop (1988) probably best epitomizes his talents and signature traits as a filmmaker that perfected pulp during an era when the true grit of such tasteful trash had certainly fallen out of vogue. 


 Based on the dark crime novel Blood on the Moon (1984) by James Ellroy—the first book in the writer's Lloyd Hopkins Trilogy—the film is a gleefully politically incorrect 1980s noir-ish crime-drama that acts as a sort of wonderfully venomous antidote to the fun, sun, and flashy neon multiculturalism of Miami Vice. Grittier and all-around superior to Curtis Hanson’s much better known Ellroy adaptation L.A. Confidential (1997), the film also arguably has a secondary auteur in the form of James Woods, who not only played the eponymous lead but also acted as its co-producer (notably, the actor also starred in Harris’ previous film Fast-Walking (1982) in a vaguely similar role). Of course, considering Woods’ relatively recent virtual blacklisting from Hollywood due to his right-wing political views and battles with liberals, communists, and antifa losers on Twitter, Cop—a film with a titular LAPD detective that is among the most radically ‘reactionary’ and culturally pessimistic police officers in cinema history—features, in many ways, the actor in what is arguably the most fitting and fully realized role of his entire rather singular career.  In short, it feels like Woods was born to play the lead.  Indeed, as much as I love William Friedkin’s To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), it seems like Michael Bay’s Bad Boys (1995) when compared to the uncompromising cynicism and misanthropy of Harris’ film. Like an all the more morally dubious thinking man’s Death Wish (1974) featuring an 1980s West Coast take on the completely cracked cop-driven cultural cynicism of The French Connection (1971), albeit with more respect for cops, the film makes nods to various crime sub-genres while also subtly commenting on said sub-genres without seeming even remotely pretentious or overly intellectual.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that Cop is a cop's cop film, so long as the cop is not an uptight by-the-book type.


Notably, at the very beginning of his 3 out of 4 star review of the film, Roger Ebert—a man whose girth was only transcended by his tendency to get preposterously offended by films like some uppity queen—argued, “Anyone without a history of watching James Woods in the movies might easily misread COP. They might think this is simply a violent, sick, contrived exploitation picture, and that would certainly be an accurate description of its surfaces. But Woods operates in this movie almost as if he were writing his own footnotes. He uses his personality, his voice and his quirky sense of humor to undermine the material and comment on it, until COP becomes an essay on this whole genre of movie. And then, with the movie’s startling last shot, Woods slams shut the book.” Luckily for viewers, especially of the less than intellectually gifted sort, the film is certainly no academic study, let alone any sort of serious art film, yet it does bring a certain unrivaled refinement to cultural pessimism and social decay; ingredients that any real-life cop is all too familiar with. Probably unlike a large majority of viewers, I have a certain personal familiarity with police officers to distinguish the difference between tawdry Tinseltown buffoonery and a certain psychological realism and nuance of character that makes the film believable enough to those familiar with real-life men in blue. While films based on the works of real-life cop turned novelist Joseph Wambaugh like The New Centurions (1972) and The Onion Field (1979) also starring Woods, demonstrate a certain matter-of-fact respect for the law enforcement trade, Cop almost achieves a sort of almost metaphysical understanding of the sort of dispirited spirit that comes with spending many years cavorting with coke-addled hookers and dodging bullets from crack-addled renegade negro thugs. Indeed, in its no-holds-barred approach to depicting a Hollywood inhabited by corrupt cocksucking cops, quasi-autistic artsy fartsy serial killers, and low-rent crooks, the film is as anti-Hollywood as 1980s films come and in the tradition of the great nihilistic works of classic film noir. 



 Although it might seem like a peculiar theme for a neo-noir featuring a policeman as an antihero, one of the most potent central themes of Cop is that it takes a rather brutal approach to depicting the perils of Princess Syndrome (PS) and female entitlement and how these things have created a world of exceedingly unhappy women that sometimes grow up to be hookers or, even worse, feminists, due to the high expectations that society instilled in them as impressionable little girls. Indeed, the titular propagandist is so disgusted with the way that society lies to children about the reality of the world that, to the chagrin of his wife, he excitedly tells his daughter brutal police stories each night before bed as an entertaining way to expose her to the harsh realities of the world. In fact, he notably sums up his rather pessimistic worldview to his unsympathetic wife as follows, “Let me tell you something you should get through your head. They’re all little girls, Jen. Every one of them. Every one of those pathetic souls who eventually does herself in is a little girl. Every neurotic who lies on a couch…and pays some asshole shrink good money to listen to her bullshit is a little girl. Every hooker out hustling her ass for a pimp…who winds up with a dyke, a habit, or wasted by some psychopath, is a little girl. All these little girls have one thing in common. You know what that is? Disillusionment. And it always comes from the same thing, expectations. The greatest woman-killer of all time. A terminal disease that starts way back when they’re all just little girls. When they’re being fed all the bullshit…about being entitled to happiness like it’s a birthright. That’s what you don’t understand…when to stop perpetrating the myths that ruin their lives. Innocence kills, Jen. Believe me. It kills. I see it every fucking day of my life.”

 While the antihero is a reasonably violent man that regularly kills criminals and cheats on his wife, the film reveals that he is completely right when it comes to female disillusionment. While the antihero is a sort of ruthless realist-cum-pessimist that can smell bullshit a mile away, it is, somewhat ironically, a romantic poet that is depicted as an unhinged lunatic and pathological serial killer in what can be possibly interpreted as director Harris' (possibly unconscious) view of ‘artiste’ types. In other words, in the world of Cop, only irrational women and psychopaths are crazy enough to believe that there is still romance and beauty in the world. Needless to say, the film also reveals that there is a very fine line between cops and criminals and that there is no such thing as heroes; just guys that are hard and tough enough to take out the subhuman trash.  Indeed, James Wood’s unforgettable eponymous character is less a hero than a rabid social watchdog that has developed a decidedly dehumanizing talent for hunting down sick and criminal minds.  Indeed, if the antihero were not a cop, he would probably be some sort of hit man or organized crime leader.



You immediately know that Cop is not a movie for leftists, ethno-masochists, and pussies because the opening credits is juxtaposed with a laughably idiotic 911 call from some unseen gangster negro that bitches to the operator, “I should be home, like, watching THE FLINTSTONES, or some shit,” and then nonchalantly confesses his criminal trade while reporting a murder, stating, “I was gonna hit this place in Hollywood until I seen what was inside. Heavy shit went down in there, man. Like something out of a Peckinpah movie. You better send some cops right away to Aloha Regency, Apartment B.” The scenario that the nameless/faceless negro is talking about is less like something out of a Peckinpah movie than something out of Tobe Hopper’s classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), as the grisly scene in question involves a female corpse hanging upside from a ceiling like a gutted cow carcass.  The film's antihero, LAPD detective Sgt. Lloyd Hopkins (James Woods), is the first people to arrive at the crime scene and he almost immediately comes to the conclusion that the victim was killed by some sort of art fag serial killer due a piece of poetry he soon finds addressed to her that reads, “You grieved me more than all the rest.” As Hopkins soon discovers while looking around her apartment, the victim was a feminist journalist named Julia Niemeyer that owned feminist polemics with absurd titles like Rage in the Womb.  Notably, Hopkins spends a great deal of time at the crime scene before contacting his police department, as if he needs to personally meditate on the madness of the murder by himself without any distractions, especially not the stupid theories of other cops. All these clues will ultimately lead Hopkins to hot babes that he fucks or wants to fuck, as the antihero is certainly a man that likes to both work hard and play hard, though it seems he actually prefers the former as ‘workaholic’ would be too bland and generic of a description for the fanatically enterprising antihero. Unlike the killer, who is some warped male feminist type, Hopkins really cares about women, or as his much despised Christian boss Captain Fred Gaffney (Raymond J. Barry)—an uptight asshole and bozo bureaucrat that prides himself on playing by the rules—complains to him, “Everyone knows you have a wild hair up your ass about murdered women.” In short, Hopkins, who is a great cop that is not beneath fighting dirty, makes it his personal mission to catch the serial killer and he more or less destroys his entire life in the process, but such is the price of such uncompromising fanaticism. 



Aside from his quite predatory desire to catch the killer, Hopkins does not seem all that worried about completely ruining his life because his personal life is pretty much in shambles. Indeed, after his wife Jen (Jan McGill) catches him telling their prepubescent daughter Penny about a personal police story about a “queen who did full drag” and “ripped off about $5,000 in cash and a shitload of pharmaceutical speed and heavyweight downers…in less than a month,” the two get in a heated verbal dispute where the antihero discusses the deleterious effects of telling fairy tales like ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ to little girls and how it can only end in bitter disillusionment. When his wife tells him, “Lloyd, I think you’re a very sick man…in need of some real help,” Hopkins, who seems to have nil sexual desire for his wife despite his overall virility, skips bed to go on a stakeout with his best friend ‘Dutch’ (Charles Durning).  Hopkins is such good buds with Dutch—a fat, white-haired, and somewhat unintentionally goofy yet smart and loyal chap that is nearing retirement—that he hooks him up with hot hookers to hump, as the two have a natural intuitive bond despite being somewhat of opposites in terms of character.  Indeed, quite unlike Dutch, Hopkins sometimes has a problem with self-control and tact, among other things, hence their natural chemistry as partners.

Needless to say, Hopkins is more than a little bit upset when his wife steals their daughter and runs off to some unknown location in San Francisco, or as she describes in a quite condescending letter that she leaves for him, “I know that you and I have not communicated for a long, long time and I’m not sure that we can again, as our values are completely different. You’re a deeply disturbed person and I cannot allow you to pass your disturbance on to Penny. I’m withholding our address in San Francisco…until I am certain you will not try to do anything rash.” Clearly no longer in love with his frigid and seemingly perennially bitchy wife and not one to waste a good opportunity, Hopkins almost immediately starts an extramarital excursion after his spouse absconds to Sod Francisco. The sort of cop that cannot help but dwell in the gutter, Hopkins gets involved with a beauteous blonde 35-year-old failed actress turned hooker named Joanie Pratt (Randi Brooks)—a character that acts as a slightly more exciting spin on the ‘whore with a heart of gold’ trope—that is connected to Niemeyer murder. As she describes to Hopkins, Joanie is responsible for setting up scam-like “floating swingers’ parties” where rich swinger pay $200 a party to fuck and buy drugs and Niemeyer was attending these parties as an investigative journalist with the intent of researching for a book on the seedy scene. Luckily for Hopkins, Joanie is so happy to help that she practically begs for the antihero to fuck her, which he quickly does from the comfort of her kitchen counter. Rather unfortunately, it is not long before the serial killer violently mutilates and murders Joanie just to fuck with Hopkins.  Indeed, unbeknownst to Hopkins, the killer is monitoring him at the same time the antihero is trying to uncover the puzzle of his identity.



While far from a cucked out male feminist that loathes members of his own sex, Hopkins—an all-around tenacious alpha-male that knows how to get a woman's attention—has no problem enticing a painfully introverted male-hating feminist bookstore owner named Kathleen McCarthy (Lesley Ann Warren). Although Hopkins initially goes to see Kathleen about the book Rage in the Womb since she is the only local seller in town and she instantly acts quite combative with him and accuses him of trying to infiltrate her seemingly imaginary gynocentric movement since he is a member of law enforcement, the protagonist only needs a couple minutes to put her at ease and entice her to softly state, “I’d like to help any way I can. Really.” As for the book Hopkins is interested in, Kathleen states, “RAGE IN THE WOMB is an angry book. It’s a polemic…a broadside against many things, violence perpetuated on women in specific. I think I sold my last copy a month ago. I don’t think I’ve ever sold a copy to a man. Actually…I don’t think I…I’ve had a single man in his 30s in here…Never.”

Adopting rather solitary feminist lifestyle after being gang-raped in high school, Kathleen—a clearly quite broken woman that seems to be afraid of making real human connections, especially with men—certainly intrigues Hopkins with her tragic past, though it is not until much later in the film that the antihero realizes that the killer is actually a warped male feminist that also happens to be a secret admirer of the mousy book dealer. Indeed, as it turns out in what ultimately proves to be an all-too-convenient coincidence, Kathleen, Hopkins, and the killer all went to the same exact high school. In between sending her flowers and poems, the killer kills woman out of a warped and deluded belief that they are the sort of chicks that abandoned her after she was raped. In high school, Kathleen led a court of female poets and these girls supposedly betrayed her after she was gang-raped, which the serial killer apparently personally witnessed, hence his pathological need for revenge against both males and especially females. For 15 pathetic years, the killer has been worshiping Kathleen from afar because, as he eventually confesses in a creepy soft-spoken fashion, “She’s not like all the rest.” Unlike the killer, Hopkins wastes no time in attempting to get into Kathleen’s panties and almost does so the first night they are together, though the antihero rudely leaves her hanging while she takes a warm bath and smokes dope lest she “tense up” during coitus due to her post-rape anxiety issues.  Indeed, somewhat absurdly, Hopkins absconds from Kathleen's home and thus loses his opportunity at premium grade misandrist meat curtain after he discovers a lead in the case involving a corrupt street cop and homo hustler that were part of her class. 



As Hopkins eventually uncovers in a less than legal fashion, a corrupt street cop named Deputy Sheriff Delbert "Whitey" Haines (Charles Haid) and a poof prostitute named Lawrence 'Birdman' Henderson (Dennis Stewart), who were pals in high school, were two of the men responsible for gang-raping Kathleen in high school. Unfortunately, both men are killed before they can be brought to justice, as the serial killer conveniently murders Birdman and Hopkins is forced to kill Whitey after he dares to pull a shotgun on him after being confronted about his crimes. Of course, at this point, Hopkins is positive that the serial killer is someone that attended Kathleen’s high school, but the feminist book peddler refuses to cooperate with him due to not only leaving her high and dry sexually, but also because he broke into her apartment while hunting for clues relating to her high school experiences. With the support of Dutch, Kathleen eventually agrees to look at old yearbook photos of various guys she went to high school with against a cross-reference of suspects, though she refuses to acknowledge any of them as potential suspects even though a dapper chap named ‘Robert Franco’ that is listed as a “Poet Laureate” clearly catches her eyes.  Seeing as Kathleen suffers the delusion that she loves her longtime secret admirer and is unwilling to believe he is a serial killer, she naturally does not want Hopkins to hound him.

 Not long after she leaves the interrogation room, Kathleen is caught by Hopkins talking to Franco on a payphone as she is attempting to warn her assumed secret admirer of the crooked cop’s obsession with him. When Franco states to Hopkins, “Let her go, Hopkins. She’s not like all the rest” after the protagonist grabs the phone and then proposes a “reunion” at their ex-high school, Kathleen gets the shock of a lifetime when she finally realizes that he secret admirer is indeed the killer. When Kathleen asks Hopkins if he plans to kill Franco, the corrupt cop, who has just been suspended due to his underhanded policing techniques, replies in a suavely sarcastic fashion, “I don’t know. Maybe this time you’ll get to send him the flowers.” As for the reunion, Franco demonstrates a prowess for martial arts and killing gangsters, but he ultimately foolishly runs out of bullets for his MAC-10 machine pistol and thus is forced to suffer the grand indignity of having to ‘surrender’ to his hunter. Although Franco prepares to turn himself in by snidely remarking, “Aren’t you going to read me my rights? Cuff me? Take me into custody? What’s it to you, Hopkins? You’re a cop. You’ve got to take me in,” Hopkins is not the sort of fellow that likes to play games and reminds him that he is not a ‘by-the-books’ kind of cop by declaring, “Well there's some good news and there's some bad news. The good news is, you're right, I'm a cop and I have to take you in. The bad news is I've been suspended and I don't give a fuck!” just before unloading three shotgun rounds into the killer, thus bringing an inordinately satisfyingly fucked conclusion to one satisfying fucked film. 



While I am not even sure it was a totally conscious decision on auteur Harris’ part, I would argue that the greatest theme depicted is Cop is the timeless dichotomy between the extroverted alpha-male type and the introverted beta-male and how the latter is ultimately the more loathsome, repugnant, and pathetic of the two classic archetypal figures. Additionally, the film also similarly demonstrates that the masculine ‘misogynist’ ultimately loves and cares more about women than the feminist ‘nice guy’ archetype. Of course, the film is also features a less than favorable depiction of queers, as the second most loathsome character in the entire film aside from the serial killer is a closet cocksucker cop that has S&M leather-fag gear lying around his apartment. Undoubtedly, compared to Cop, director Harris’ subsequent film and celluloid swansong Boiling Point (1993)—a mostly banal effort in politically correct casting the stars Wesley Snipes as an inordinately stoic colored super cop that takes down blond white sociopaths portrayed by Dennis Hopper and a very young and super Aryan-looking Viggo Mortensen—seems like a sad and pathetic artistic compromise meant to appeal the insipid cultural marxist socio-political agenda of Hollywood (notably, Harris has revealed in various interviews that the studio took the film away from him and butchered it). In fact, I do not think it would be a stretch to conclude that Harris directed Boiling Point simply due to its potential mainstream appeal because, as he admitted in a 2017 interview at MUBI in regard to his early success with Kubrick, “I think it ruined me. I was determined to produce projects of social importance. That’s why you see large gaps in my filmography. There’s a decade between SOME CALL IT LOVING and FAST-WALKING. I could have had a larger body of work, but I didn’t listen to any of the agents who sent mainstream projects my way or offered to put attractive deals together with their hot clients.” Of course, coincidentally, there is just as larger gaps in between films when it comes to Harris’ buddy Kubrick’s career. 



Undoubtedly, if there is any underlying philosophy behind Cop, it is probably best summed up by German literary maestro Ernst Jünger words, “Today only the person who no longer believes in a happy ending, only he who has consciously renounced it, is able to live. A happy century does not exist; but there are moments of happiness, and there is freedom in the moment.”  Indeed, the film's protagonist has stoically accepted the world is an ever-degenerating shithole full of societal decay and misery yet he manages to squeeze in a couple ecstatic fuck sessions with rather ravishing bimbos in between kicking ass and taking names.  In fact, I would argue that the titular antihero portrayed by James Woods is a sort of primitive blue collar equivalent to Jünger figure of the ‘Anarch,’ which is a sort of metaphysical ideal figure of a sovereign individual in the Teutonic ‘conservative’ sense. As Jünger argued in his novel Eumeswil (1977), “The partisan wants to change the law, the criminal break it; the anarch wants neither. He is not for or against the law. While not acknowledging the law, he does try to recognize it like the laws of nature, and he adjusts accordingly,” which is probably a good way to describe the antihero's own preternatural thinking. Clearly, the film’s protagonist has little concern for the law, which he constantly breaks to ironically bust lawbreakers, but instead completing his job and sticking to his own distinct moral code, thus he would probably understand Jünger’s words, “I am an anarch – not because I despise authority, but because I need it,” as he would probably be gunning down criminals 24/7 if he did not have some superficial legal guideline that he liberally followed.  Likewise, “I am not a nonbeliever, but a man who demands something worth believing in,” attests to the character's need for renegade justice in the face of injustice. Additionally, Woods’ character certainly lives by the words, “The anarch wages his own wars, even when marching in rank and file.” 



While his wife and various other characters accuse him of being ‘sick’ due to his rather culturally pessimistic Weltanschauung, the titular antihero of Cop is nothing if not someone that has cultivated an appropriate attitude to a sick and savage urban jungle, or as the late great Colombian ‘reactionary’ writer Nicolás Gómez Dávila once profoundly argued, “Adaptation to the modern world requires sclerosis of sensibility and degradation of character.” After all, one would have to be exceptionally sick and/or emotionally catatonic to be unresponsive to a world that is increasingly morally necrotic, racially and culturally apocalyptic, increasingly sub-literate, and mostly aesthetically bankrupt. While the film’s protagonist sees little good in society, he would not be such an effective cop were it not for his low expectations for humanity in general because, as Dávila rather rightly argued, “Optimism is never faith in progress, but hope for a miracle.”

The only real complaint I have about Cop is that it is not quite as dark and subversive as James Ellroy’s source novel Blood on the Moon (1984), which is somewhat curious when one considers that Tom Hanks of all people confessed in an October 13,2017 New York Times interview that he would be interested in playing the novel’s lead Lloyd Hopkins on the stage or screen. For example, the protagonist is more overtly degenerate in the novel, which was apparently initially rejected by 17 different publishers, as demonstrated by the following hilarious multicultural blowjob excerpt, “He found a Negro prostitute at the corner of Western and Adams who was willing to do the deed for ten dollars, and they drove to a side street and parked. Lloyd screamed when he came, frightening the hooker, who bolted out of the car before she could collect her money.” As much as I am disgusted at the thought of fellatio involving an assumedly STD-ridden street negress, this brief excerpt reveals the hardcore essence of the novel which, for obvious reasons, Harris was not fully able to cinematically disseminate. Not surprisingly, Harris was largely enticed to adapt the novel because of its less than politically correct tone, or as he explained in an interview with Nick Pinkerton at Film Comment, “I love the character of the cop who pushes the envelope, that could get suspended any time, works on his own, is so obsessed with successfully getting the criminal […] And I liked the scenes. Some books you read and you don’t see anything you feel you can dramatize effectively. This book had real scenes—like the moment where the cop tells a crime scene bedtime story to his kid. We got a really young kid, so that it would seem outrageous for her to be hearing these stories about breaking and entering and murder. That’s what attracted me to the material, the potential of scenes, the arguments with the wife, Lesley’s character calling him a ‘police person.’ I wanted to make fun of all of that Women’s Lib shit that was so hot at the time.” As for what Ellroy thought of the film, he apparently was not initially happy with it but as Harris explained in the same interview, “We made the picture for very little. We got everyone to cooperate, to work for reasonable salaries. It was Ellroy’s first film, and I don’t think he knew how to handle it when he first saw it. He said he didn’t care for the film when he first saw it. But later he said everybody told him that the picture was terrific, and he went back and reevaluated it and said he liked it now, in fact I think he took the film on a tour to England, through several cities, and he screened the film as an example of a good adaptation. As it turned out, we had a good relationship, and I ended up acquiring THE BLACK DAHLIA from him as well.”


As far as I am concerned, Harris is a seemingly mostly unartistic yet highly intuitive and street smart individual that has managed to direct three great underrated films that almost manage to elevate pulp to the level of poetry.  If Harris learned anything from his buddy Kubrick, it was finding the right source material to adapt. Of course, Harris' choice of material also demonstrates he was more subversive and morally dubious than Kubrick, which is arguably his greatest strength as a filmmaker.  Indeed, whereas Kubrick seemed coldly disgusted and pessimistic about humanity (notably, the director-producer team once planned to adopt the lost Jim Thompson novella Lunatic at Large), Harris seems to have wallowed in the grit, grime, and slime of humanity as demonstrated by the mirthfully mad essences of Fast-Walking and Cop.  In fact, only in Some Call It Loving, which is undoubtedly both the director's most personal and perverse film, does Harris reveal a certain foreboding dejection and melancholy.  A sort of never fully developed master of brutally honest cinematic art for proles, Harris' rather simple and unpretentious films arguably demonstrate that Dávila was right when he wrote, “Poetry has died, asphyxiated by metaphors.”

As to the value of so-called ‘corrupt cops,’ German-American sage H.L. Mencken arguably said it best when he wrote in 1931, “The curse of the cops, speaking professionally, is the sensitiveness of the district attorney's office to political and other pressure. Every day they see perfectly good cases fall to pieces in the courtroom. As a result of their most arduous labors, sometimes at the risk of their lives, go for naught, and they are naturally upset and full of woe. Not infrequently they beat up a prisoner because they fear that he will be able to escape any other punishment. They know that he is guilty, but they also know that he has a sharp lawyer, so they fan him while they have him. This fanning — or massaging, as they call it — is greatly dreaded by criminals.”  Aside from misguided liberal morons and certain types of sociopaths, serial killers, and serial killer fetishists, I think most people would agree with the titular antihero's final actions at the quite literally explosive conclusion of Harris' film.  In a morally inverted world with an alien-owned mainstream media that incessantly transforms negro thugs into Christlike martyrs and constantly demonizes police officers as sort of pathologically genocidal neo-Gestapo demons, Cop is almost as refreshing as waking up to a sloppy wet blowjob, which is certainly something that Lloyd Hopkins could appreciate.



-Ty E

Jul 21, 2018

Mike's Murder




With the vogue Me Too movement—an insufferably gynocentric witchhunt fueled by female narcissism that at least, quite thankfully, resulted in the destruction of singularly grotesque zio-pig Harvey Weinstein—the general public was exposed to the obvious fact that many of the bigwigs and movers-and-shakers in Hollywood are sick sexual predators (though, only Larry David had the balls to note, on SNL of all places, that most of these ‘white’ men are actually Jewish). Rather disappointingly, only a couple queers, including Kevin Spacey, were exposed as predatory perverts. Of course, Hollywood has a history of homo harassment, as the casting couch apparently has just as many male victims as female ones and the predators are not always out-of-the-closet poofters like Judaic degenerate Bryan Singer. For example, as noted in Rainer Chlodwig von K.'s rather worthwhile tome Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies (2018), in 2012 a masseur sued John Travolta for $2 million after claiming that a $200-per-hour massage session concluded in a rather curious fashion with the Hollywood star stripping naked, rubbing the man's leg and then touching his cock. Notably, as a totally hilarious and equally incriminating segment of the suit reads, “Defendant began screaming at Plaintiff, telling Plaintiff how selfish he was; that Defendant got to where he is now due to sexual favors he had performed when he was in his WELCOME BACK, KOTTER days; and that Hollywood is controlled by homosexual Jewish men who expect favors in return for sexual activity [i.e., expect sex in return for favors]. Defendant then went on to say how he had done things in his past that would make most people throw up.” Naturally, it should be no surprise to anyone that is not mentally feeble that “Hollywood is controlled by homosexual Jewish men,” but apparently Tinseltown even has had a couple alleged gay goy predators, including Hollywood auteur James Bridges, who notably directed Travolta in a couple films, including the hit Urban Cowboy (1980) and the big turd Perfect (1985). 


 Apparently, Bridges hosted infamous sodomite sex parties which were stocked with underage boys and attended by big household names in the entertainment industry, or so it was revealed after The New York Police Department and District Attorney’s Office launched an investigation in 1975 dubbed ‘Operation Together’ which looked into the mafia control of gay bars and underage boy sex rings (incidentally, the central S&M gay bar depicted in Cruising (1980) was mob-owned, or so William Friedkin revealed in his memoir Friedkin Connection: A Memoir (2013)). As exposed by The Mafia and The Gays writer Phillip Crawford Jr.— a retired attorney from the New York bar and “whistle blower”—in an article at his blog Friends of Ours, “The retired officer with whom I spoke stated that that while working on Operation Together he spent a lot of time undercover as a gay clone in the city's bars and did substantial surveillance including out on Long Island and Fire Island. In the course of his investigation the NYPD officer advised me that he learned about sex parties with underage boys that allegedly were being hosted at a place on the Island by Hollywood film director and writer James Bridges. Bridges had been nominated for an Oscar for THE PAPER CHASE which was released in 1973, and later directed THE CHINA SYNDROME for which he also received an Oscar nomination, URBAN COWBOY and BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY. He died at the age of 57 in 1993 from kidney failure after a cancer diagnosis according to his family. The officer staked out Bridge's place, and the attendees were obviously underage boys and household names in the entertainment industry to whom he referred as ‘the child fuckers.’ James Bridges was not the only name with which I was provided by the retired officer.”  Not surprisingly, Bridges was never actually charged, let alone convicted, for his alleged cocksucker crimes, but at least one of his films hints at such behavior.



 Notably, although some of his films feature homoerotic imagery and gay subtexts, Bridges did not really contribute much to the history of queer cinema as he spent virtually his entire life in the closet, or as written in Images in the Dark: An Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Film and Video (1994), “An unusual inclusion in this listing of gay and lesbian directors, James Bridges’ (1935-93) filmography does not offer much evidence of queerness. As a matter of fact, with the exception of employing several gay stars in his films and the character of Mike in MIKE’S MURDER (who, despite the film’s title, was only a peripheral figure), there are no gay themes or characters, major or minor, in his films […] Interestingly, Bridges’ gayness was not publicly known until the publication of his obituary.” Indeed, while his vaguely semi-autobiographical film September 30, 1955 (1977) features a teen that strangely cares more about James Dean than having any sort of sexual contact with his bitchy girlfriend and Urban Cowboy includes its fair share of homoerotic imagery (namely, Travolta in cowboy garb and Scott Glenn sporting an ultra-faggy mesh shirt), Mike’s Murder (1984)—a rather seedy yet quite sui generis and tastefully directed piece of largely forgotten cult cinema—is the only Bridges film that seems to take delight into dipping into the cocaine-and-cock-fueled swamp of depravity of the gay underground and associated chic degenerate criminal scenes. By no means a masterpiece and probably 20 minutes too long, the film is exactly the sort of film that you might expect from a relatively powerful gay Hollywood filmmaker-cum-producer that wanted to create his own cryptically confessional auteur piece, albeit featuring a popular female lead so as to provide enough plausible deniability in regard to the filmmaker’s sexual orientation. Personally, I was not surprised to learn after watching the film that Bridges was involved in some seriously sick scenes, as the flick is unlike many others of the largely artificial Reaganite 1980s in terms of its authenticity in regard to depicting the radically repellent realm of coke-addled Dorian love debauchery.  A decided downer that never offers the the aid of comic relief from its fairly consistent paranoiac intensity, Mike's Murder is also a reminder the war on drugs is a sick and pathetic joke and many dumb queer addicts are paying the price while rich old horny queens are picking up the tab.


 As far as I am concerned, male bisexuality is mostly a myth propagated by self-loathing gays that have not fully made the plunge into pure and unadulterated puffery, decidedly debased gay-for-pay masochists, and sociopaths (who, lacking real emotional connections to other people, are known to be sexually flexible). In Mike’s Murder, the female heroine discovers the seemingly unthinkable in that the man she loves—a handsome and athletic fellow of the romantic and sexually potent sort—has not only fucked men, but he pimped himself out to a bitchy middle-aged negro queen. Indeed, the film tells the dejecting story of a likeable yet seemingly clueless chick with a girlish crush that discovers the rather repugnant hidden homo life of the man she thought she loved after he dies under quite brutal circumstances. While it is hard to know where exactly Bridges was coming from, the film sometimes feels like a mockery of women or, more specifically, a woman in love, as the hapless heroine suffers the great indignity of enduring the cold hard reality of her beau being not much more than a male bimbo boy toy for fags and dope fiends. Indeed, whereas Ken Russell’s masterful adaptation D. H. Lawrence Women in Love (1969) respectfully depicts the need of certain men to have the love of another man despite already having the love of a woman, Bridges’ film depicts a sexually nihilistic world where sex is not much more than a commodity and heterosexual love seems like an unhip anachronistic joke. But then again, Mike’s Murder is arguably best interpreted as an example of gay jealousy in regard to heterosexual love, which becomes most obvious in a scene where a bitchy black queen proudly expresses to the heroine his pangs of lovelorn cynicism for the dead man that both individuals love. 

Not exactly a hit when it was first released and barely a cult item today, Mike’s Murder is a film that I first discovered while reading an article about independent actress Kate Lyn Sheil of all places. Indeed, after making the mistake of sampling a couple Joe Swanberg films and related lame mumblecore crap, I discovered Sheil and felt she was cute in a sort of autistic introverted hipster bitch fashion, so I looked her up on the internet and discovered an article where Melissa Anderson of The Village Voice remarks in regard to the actress, “But thanks to friendships she made in 2005 during a brief stint working at Mondo Kim’s, that late, lamented cathedral of cinephilia on St. Marks Place, her interest in performing was revived. Employees at the rental redoubt ranked among the city’s most movie-mad, as Sheil did (and still does, pulling out her phone, not impolitely, during our conversation to fact-check herself on the name of the director of MIKE’S MURDER, a little-known Debra Winger vehicle from 1984).” At the time I read the article, I had just watched Costa-Gavras’ uneven yet nonetheless entertaining anti-white nationalist melodrama Betrayed (1988) and realized I rather liked Debra Winger—a brunette Jewess with a certain delectable girl-next-door beauty—despite her ethnic handicap, so naturally I was enticed to see another film with her, especially after I read a somewhat enigmatic film synopsis on Bridge's flick that left me reasonably intrigued.  After all, my favorite 1980s films are decidedly dark works like Ivan Passer's Cutter's Way (1981), David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986), and Tim Hunter's River's Edge (1986), so naturally I am always looking out for similarly bleak material. Rather unfortunately, Mike’s Murder has yet to be released on Blu-ray and can only be bought as part of Warner Archive Collection’s rather disappointing barebones DVD-R series, which is certainly fitting for a idiosyncratic fag flick that would probably be regarded as being ‘homophobic’ by many of today's overly pampered and brainwashed contemporary gays. 


 Mike’s Murder begins in a rather deceptively traditionally romantic fashion with a montage involving various seamless dissolves of heroine Betty Parrish (Debra Winger) being delicately manhandled on a public tennis court by her bohunk beau Mike Chuhutsky (Mark Keyloun) and then lovingly penetrated in her bedroom by him. After watching the opening, one might assume that Betty is married to a man that she is deeply in love with, but the reality is that they only had a brief yet passionate fling as Mike is an aimless wanderer with the attention-span of a gnat who has been spending a lot of his free time running away from rivals as a petty drug dealer.  To his minor credit, Mike sells drugs to merely support his coke habit and pay off old drug debts. In fact, the only reason Mike briefly reenters Betty’s life after disappearing for six months is that he is in hiding and does not want to be caught by drug dealers that he pissed off as a result of making the reckless mistake of dealing on their home turf. Indeed, the two are only reunited as a result of happenstance when Betty hears Mike call her name while she is driving down the road.  Needless to say, Betty wastes no time in picking Mike up and the two immediately catch up in a manner that you would expect from two lovers that have not seen each other in a longtime. While flirting with Betty, Mike has no qualms about making rather forward remarks like, “I’d like to get you naked again. It’s been a longtime. What, like . . . six months at least?,” but he also expresses great fear and paranoia about being stalked. Hopelessly smitten like an innocent teenager girl with a hopeless crush, Betty naturally completely embraces Mike and his proposed reigniting of their hot and heavy romance, but it never really happens as the titular male bimbo is about as reliable as an LSD-addled schizophrenic street bum. Instead of achieving her assumed dream of beginning a long-term relationship with Mike, Betty is sucked into a sort of lovesick hell involving a dead lover, bitchy queens, violently paranoid dope fiends, arrogant quasi-punk art fags, and shadowy negroid hit men. 


 Not exactly a scholar or even someone with an average IQ, Mike unwittingly accepts a death sentence when he mindlessly goes along with his insufferably spastic and seemingly sociopathic friend Pete (Darrell Larson) after he decides to steal a sizable amount of cocaine from the wealthy suppliers that provide them with drugs to sell. Needless to say, the theft leaves both Mike and Pete marked men and the former is brutally murdered in his small apartment after being surprised by negro enforcers the very same night that he mindlessly snags the dope. While Betty simply assumes that Mike once again stood her up like he had done to her so many times before when he falls to meet her that night as the two planned, the truth is much uglier and horrifying, or so the heroine learns the next day after getting a random phone call from an eccentric yet annoyingly passive gay middle-aged photographer named Sam Morris (Robert Crosson). Although she does not know him, Sam informs Betty that their mutual ‘friend’ Mike has been brutally murdered and then invites her to his apartment. After being somewhat shocked that Sam’s apartment is completely covered with large posters of Mike, Betty discovers that her dead beau has a dubious connection to a rich and successful gay negro record produced named Philip Green (played by real-life gay negro Paul Winfield), so she decides to visit him to see if she can find out more about the mysterious murder. Rather unfortunately, Betty is in for a rather rude awakening as she discovers the uniquely undignified fact that Mike was once the personal white fuck toy of made spade Prince Philip, who even has a live-in white slave named Randy (William Ostrander). In between being entertained by Randy with coke-snorting and his insufferably gay tryout video for Chippendales, Betty scans old Polaroid photos of Mike as she waits to speak with Philip in what ultimately provides to be an extremely awkward couple minutes. An almost gleefully bitchy old queen that lives the rich hedonistic homo dream, Philip seems initially annoyed with Betty, but it is clearly because he is jealous of her and the real romantic connection she had with Mike.  Indeed, Mike might have fucked old men, but he preferred relatively fresh pussy.


 Naturally, Betty becomes somewhat upset when Philip tells her in regard to Mike’s murder, “You want to know everything? Well… You don’t. Believe me, you don’t. This wasn’t an enforcement killing. I mean, they were making a statement.”  While Betty seems to find it somehow curious that Philip was the one that was responsible for identifying Mike's corpse at the morgue, it certainly makes more sense to her when she discovers that her lover used to share a bed with the surly sod sambo.  Arguably more upsetting is everything else that Philip tells Betty about Mike, including about their gay interracial romance, or as he explains with a certain degree of slightly hidden lovesick melancholy, “It was, however, a very brief physical relationship. It was born on a hot Ohio day. Lot of drugs, Jack Daniels. It was not, as they say, his true bent, as you well know. Well, whatever it was, it was certainly worth a First Class ticket to sunny California. He lived with me in this house just as long as he wanted. Then, what about two years ago, he met you. He liked you. He certainly talked about you enough.” Although she clearly does not want to hear it, Philip also explains how his love affair began with Mike after he randomly picked him up while he was hitchhiking across country. As hinted by Philip’s words, “He had all kinds of stories that he used on different people. He was always preparing a face for the faces he met,” one also gets the impression that Mike was a happy-go-lucky sociopath of sorts, though he was a relatively benign one compared to his best friend Pete.  At the very least, Mike was completely and irrevocably morally retarded.  To Mike's credit, he openly acknowledged that Betty was “too good” for him, hence one of the reasons why he never attempted to pursue a serious relationship with her.  Of course, by never getting serious with Betty, Mike unwittingly protected her from very potentially being murdered too.


 While Betty is desperately running around town and attempting to find out everything she can about Mike and his untimely demise, her dead boy toy’s friend Pete—a socially corrosive criminal and all-around degenerate—is lurking in alleys and hiding in friends’ apartments as he tries in vain to evade the same negro enforcers that killed his pal. Hated by Philip (who he once called a “nigger” as revealed in a home movie that Randy plays for Betty) and undoubtedly an exceedingly erratic human parasite of the pathetically socially predatory sort, Pete eventually makes his way to Betty’s house in the hope she will provide him with sanctuary from the shadowy spade brigade, but he makes the mistake of more or less holding her hostage in her own home and treating her in a most absurdly aggressive fashion. High on the very same cocaine that resulted in him signing his own death warrant and positively petrified to the bone, Pete the prick clearly strikes fear in Betty, who attempts to do her best to not frighten or provoke the dangerously paranoid and unhinged proto-tweaker. Although he claims that he only needs a “friend,” Pete does not seem all that concerned about the fact that he completely scares the shit out of Betty. Also, like the stereotypical sociopath, little Petey has a terrible persecution complex and claims that the coke theft that got his best friend killed was nothing more than a simple “mistake,” or as he hysterically states in his pathetic defense, “There was so much. We took so little. I just wanted my share. Do you know how much they have? How well they live? Do you know how much I have? How I live? […] You think it’s all my fault. He knew what happened. He was a part of it. He took his share. I have him his share.” Of course, like Mike, Pete ultimately has to pay the price for his indiscretions. Indeed, luckily for Betty, a couple nameless and faceless negroes—the same gentlemen that killed Mike—show up at the heroine’s house, grab Pete, and take him away in a van before he can do anything too drastic to her (among other things, Pete begins threatening Betty with a knife). In the end, the negro enforcers dump Pete’s bound corpse, which includes a plastic bag wrapped around his head, at a remote construction site. As for Betty, she is featured in the final scene bittersweetly reminiscing about Mike after receiving photographs of her and him that were shipped to her by Sam. Needless to say, Mike must have been an absolutely otherworldly good fuck for a mild-mannered banker teller like Betty to go to homo hell and back in a rather desperate attempt to solve the puzzle of his grisly demise.  In the end, Betty ultimately pays a high prize for rough trade and she does not seem to regret a second of it, even though she now probably suffers from posttraumatic stress and will probably have a hard to maintaining romantic relationships in the future.



 Although just speculation, I think it is safe to say that Mike’s Murder is a sort of masochistic gay fantasy disguised as a sort of dark romantic mystery, even if it is based on a true story. To support my conclusion, I sought out reviews of the film and was quite delighted to find a somewhat recent one from colored contrarian Armond White, who is undoubtedly both the most hated and well known negro film critic working today. Despite being both gay and probably the only (in)famous negro American film critic, White is actually hated by Jews and white liberals due to his trashing of overrated race hustler garbage like black Brit Steve McQueen‘s superficial sell-out flick 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Jordan Peele’s big brown (pseudo)horror turd Get Out (2017). A rare American film critic that vocally values humanism over nihilism and does not subscribe to phony mainstream leftist narratives, White writes review for both the William F. Buckley Jr.-founded rag National Review (NR) and the cocksucker kultur mag Out, so naturally his review of Mike’s Murder—a film that would certainly be decried as being homophobic nowadays by the more hysterical members of the LGBT ghetto—is something quite exceptional. Indeed, in his January 2, 2018 review for Out entitled MIKE’S MURDER: Revisiting the Complex, Erotic Tale of an '80s Hollywood Hustler, White somewhat predictably demonstrates his affinity for the film’s gay negro record producer, arguing, “Bridges then shifts his attention to one of the deepest gay male characters in Hollywood history: Phillip, a wealthy, middle-aged music producer, tells Betty how he became Mike’s sugar daddy. Phillip steals the movie. Played by late gay actor Paul Winfield, best known for his Oscar-nominated role as the sharecropper father in Sounder, he displays a subtle passion. This career risk and personal revelation by Winfield and Bridges was historic. Beneath his elegant kaftan, the older gentleman who procures trim young men reveals a gay man’s fully recognizable inner life. Phillip is half-ashamed of the vulnerability indicated by his relationship with Mike (intimately remembered as ‘Michael’) when recalling their mutual exploitation. He asks Betty, ‘Were you in love with him? So was I. In the beginning, I was just desperately in love…It was not, as they say, ‘his true bent,’ as you well know.’”  Of course, despite only being briefly in the film, Philip is a strong and imperative character because he seems to be a sort of negrified stand-in for director Bridges.  Also, one cannot forget the unintentionally absurd image of Paul Winfield strutting around in a large hippie-like robe like he some sort of all-powerful and all-knowing aristocrat in Sodom.



 While the film is largely forgotten and not really regarded as much more than a strange and subversive artifact of 1980s (semi)mainstream gay cinema, Pauline Kael, whose second book Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (1968) incidentally played a crucial role in inspiring Armond White to become a film critic, actually wrote a short yet favorable review of Mike’s Murder and especially Debra Winger’s performance in The New Yorker. Although I am someone that has always appreciated auteurs over actors, I can certainly agree with Kael words in her June 30, 1986 review where she argues in regard to the lead actress, “Winger has thick, long, loose hair and a deep, sensual beauty in this movie. Bridges wrote the role for her after directing her in URBAN COWBOY, and you feel the heroine’s expanding awareness in Winger’s scenes with Keyloun and her scenes with Winfield. It’s a performance that suggests what Antonioni seemed to be trying to get from Jeanne Moreau in LA NOTTE, only it really works with Winger—maybe because there’s nothing sullen or closed about her. We feel the play of the girl’s intelligence, and her openness and curiosity are part of her earthiness, her sanity. There’s a marvelous sequence in which Mike calls her after an interval of three months and wants her to come to him right that minute. She says, ‘How about tomorrow night?’ He says, ‘You know I can’t plan that far in advance,’ and gets her to talk to him while he masturbates. He says he loves her voice, and though we don’t see him, we hear a callow sweetness in his tone; he wants to give her satisfaction, too. He talks hot, and she’s sort of amused, and goes along with it. I don’t know of anyone besides Winger who could play a scene like this so simply.” Undoubtedly a rare screen Jewess that takes a rather refined and sophisticated approach to feminine sensuality, sensitivity, nurturance, and compassion as opposed to stereotypically wallowing in the neurotic, obnoxious, arrogant, and/or the ethnically bitchy, Winger certainly deserves credit for much of the film’s emotion potency and pathos, even if Bridges was clearly more interested in hustler hunks and heartsick queens. Undoubtedly, Winger's range as an actress becomes rather clear when one compares her role in Bridge's film to her completely unrecognizable performance in drag in Alan Rudolph's somewhat underrated rom-com-fantasy Made in Heaven (1987). 


 Rather curiously but not all that surprisingly considering his sexual bent, Bridges gets the most radically retarded character in Mike’s Murder—aspiring Chippendales dancer-cum-gigolo Randy—to act as his sort of socio-political mouthpiece. Indeed, in a somewhat preachy scene, the character states in between literally snorting lines of cocaine to Betty, “Well, they outta legalize everything in this country. That’s what Philip says. Take it out of the hands of the criminals. You know…prostitution, drugs […] But I guess there’s so much money to be made. Philip has this theory, see, that, uh, the moral majority—whether they know it or not—is being funded by the mafia so that they can keep everything [that is] sinful illegal so that they can clean-up. Big business, you know. Thirty million Americans snort cocaine.” Of course, as someone that apparently hosted Hollywood homo orgies, it is not hard to see why Bridges supported the legalization of drugs and prostitution as he personally witnessed the totally senseless demise of people like Mike and his friends in real-life. After all, it is no coincidence that Randy complains during the same scene, “It’s been a weird weak. I’ve known two people personally that got murdered this week. They were both drug related,” just as it is probably no coincidence that Bridges got Mark Keyloun to play the titular character as the actor previously played alongside a then-unknown Kevin Bacon as a gay-for-pay hustler in Paul Morrissey’s similarly underrated Forty Deuce (1982). 



 Not unlike Morrissey, Bridges was an auteur that was first and foremost a filmmaker and not a ‘fag filmmaker’ that emphasized a subversive socio-sexual agenda over an artistic one. In fact, the great irony of a marginal film like Mike’s Murder is that it would have never been made had Bridges not received a great commercial success with his Travolta vehicle Urban Cowboy (1980). Rather unfortunately, the current cut of Mike’s Murder that exists is not the film that Bridges originally intended as the studio Warner Brothers hated the director’s original cut and refused to release it until the director made some drastic changes in regard to multiple aspects of the film. For example, the film apparently originally had a narrative structure comparable to Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible (2002) in that events were depicted in a chronologically backward fashion. Arguably most infuriatingly of all, the eponymous murder scene was also cut from the film, or as star Mark Keyloun revealed in a 2015 interview featured at TVStoreOnline Blog, “And what happened to MIKE'S MURDER, basically, is that when it came time to test-screen the film, the studio put it in front of an audience in some some upscale Northern California county. Because of the blood and sex—the film didn't receive a favorable review. I think, that Bridges and the producers ran scared. They went back into the editing room and cut out all of the good stuff. They cut out all the stuff that made the film great. They re-oriented the film, from a point-of-view that sanitized the whole thing. The irony of that—Pacino's SCARFACE (1983) had just come out. There's a scene in there with Pacino and some guys cutting up a person in a bathtub with a chainsaw. The producers and Bridges cut out my character's murder—where he was cut-up with a knife in a apartment with blood flying all over. They cut out the butchery, and the sex. There was a bunch more sex in the film that was cut out, and how do you a sell a film without the violence and the sex? (laughing).” As far what the murder scene was like, Keyloun also explained in the same interview, “Mike was stabbed in the chest. It was very graphic. There was cow blood being spewed all over the walls. Mike was stabbed and his throat is cut. He got stabbed multiple times and blood was spraying all over. That was the most-effective part of the sequence. They filmed me flailing around on the floor in slow-motion with blood squirting out of my chest.” Rather sadly, aside from the murder scene being excised, a number of sex scenes were also cut, including Keyloun pounding Winger’s puss doggy-style.  Somewhat ironically, the film would probably be better known today had Bridges not followed the studio's demands and cut out all of the murder, mayhem, and mammary glands.


 Also, less interestingly, the original musical score by English musician Joe Jackson was replaced with a score by English composer John Barry. Of course, both of these musicians seem rather banal when one considers that the film features an unintentionally humorous cameo from ‘Spazz Attack’ (real name Craig Allen Rothwell ), who was featured in David Bowie's Glass Spiders tour of 1988, appeared as a ‘demon alien’ in Tony Basil’s “Space Girls” music video, and is probably best known for his relationship with DEVO (aside from appearing in a couple of their music videos, he portrayed their iconic quasi-mascot ‘Booji Boy’ during one of their tours). Notably, during his brief appearance in the film, Spazz Attack states, “Art has always been an expression of the backs of people’s minds—what they conceive life to actually be.” Of course, Mike’s Murder is, if nothing else, an expression of Bridge’s mind and the unsentimental way he conceived life to actually be. In that sense, aside from September 30, 1955, most of Bridge’s other films seem like well constructed hack work by comparison. After all, while his hits like The Paper Chase and Urban Cowboy are technically more immaculate in terms of their pacing and overall construction, they lack the authenticity and sincerity of Mike’s Murder (though one must admit that most of these films have certain ‘queer’ sensibilities). As a filmmaker, Bridges can be seen as a sort of gay Robert Redford as purveyor of middlebrow (melo)drama that is meant to tickle the painfully average intellects of the largely culturally retarded American bourgeoisie.  Naturally, what makes Mike's Murder standout is that it transcends simple bourgeois bullshit and tells the sort of sickly sordid story that borders on hybristophilia. Additionally, the film features the sort of emotive hustler worship that is typical of early Gus Van Sant films like Mala Noche (1985) and especially My Own Private Idaho (1991).


 In terms of films featuring the heterosexual horrors of a woman having to cope with the great shock of fact that her beau is also a cocksucker, the subgenre has very few entries and includes films as diverse as John Schlesinger’s Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), Jacques Scandelari’s Monique (1978) aka Flashing Lights, Arthur Hiller’s Making Love (1982), and Cyril Collard’s Les Nuits Fauves (1992) aka Savage Nights, among various other examples. Undoubtedly, what makes Mike’s Murder different from all these films is that it takes a more satisfying slow-burning approach to revealing the revelation that the heroine’s lover was a prick-peddler (of course, the fact that a middle-aged negro was in love with him makes this reveal all the more awkward and disturbing). Interestingly, not unlike Fassbinder’s cryptically autobiographical Sapphic melodrama The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972), Mike’s Murder is based on a true story where the genders of the characters were changed, or as actor Dan Shor explained in an interview, “MIKE'S MURDER was based on a real guy that [director] Jim Bridges knew. The film was an investigation into the gay community of Los Angeles of that time. Debra Winger was really playing a guy in the film, and Mike, Mark Keyloun, was essentially playing a male hooker […] You got the sense that my character was unsuccessful with everyone, compared to the character of Mike—who was like the Brigitte Bardot of the film.”  Indeed, there is no doubt that Bridges' camera worships Keyloun the same way that Roger Vadim's did in iconic Bardot vehicles like ...And God Created Woman (1956).



 In fact, the facts revolving around the real Mike are eerily similar to the film as revealed by Bridge’s longtime lover and the film’s associate producer Jack Larson, who explained in an interview, “Mark was a terrific, eager, and dedicated young man. I think he may have been from Baltimore originally. Paul Winfield, years prior, had met Mark while he was in Baltimore shooting a film. They met, and Mark expressed an interest in working in films to Paul, but not as an actor. Both Jim [Bridges] and I knew Paul well, because he had been around town for many years, he had done a play that I had written, and also a play that Jim had written prior to the shooting of MIKE'S MURDER. So both Jim and I knew him fairly well, and through Paul, we both got to know Mark Bernalack. Paul had brought Mark out to Los Angeles from Baltimore, and he moved into Paul's house. Mark was extraordinarily handsome, and indeed, he did start to get jobs on films as a crew member after he came out here. He stayed with Paul for a while, and after he had enough money to get on his feet, he moved out of Paul's house and took an apartment in Brentwood—where Jim and I lived. It was in the heart of Brentwood near Sunset and Barrington. There was a tennis court around there, and when Jim and I would drive down Barrington we would often see Mark teaching tennis at those particular courts. In fact, those courts on Barrington are the same courts that we used to shoot the scenes with Mark [Keyloun] and Debra [Winger] in MIKE'S MURDER. Mark was a great tennis player. He was an ace. And he was obviously a locale Lothario to all the single girls in that area. And he would often have a bandana around his head while he was playing. He was very gallant looking […] Mark had been savagely murdered at his apartment in Brentwood. It was all over the papers and on the television. It was a horror. Everyone that knew Mark, liked him. We were all stunned. The newspapers said that he was a drug dealer. He wasn't. I mean, Mark didn't ever have enough money at one time to buy himself a car. He wasn't a drug dealer, but there were two guys, who were African-Americans, who I guess, were drug dealers—they confronted him at his apartment and Mark was murdered. Jim was very haunted by it. It was because of how Mark was called a drug dealer in the newspapers. That was very sad to him. The papers portrayed Mark's murder as if it was a good thing because he was a drug dealer.”  Certainly, one must salute Bridges for his racial realism in terms of staying true to the historical facts and depicting the killers as young negroes, which probably would not happen nowadays due to Hollywood's commitment to propping up so-called minorities, especially blacks.  Although gay, Mike's Murder is certainly not plagued by political correctness, especially when it comes to gay characters.  Indeed, from a middle-aged gay alcoholic photographer named Sam that creepily secretly takes photos of the young man he lusts after to the glaring white slave dynamic that seems to be the most defining trait of wealthy negro Philip's personal life, Bridges' film paints a particularly pathetic portrait of homo Hollywood.


 Of course, more than a murder mystery, the film carries the simple yet important message that if you hang around shit long enough, you start to smell, hence the brutal demise of Mike and the precarious situation that his dubious personal relationships put his lover Betty in. In short, heterosexual Mike has his life completely destroyed as a result of entering the cocaine-driven cocksucking realm. Notably, Bridges' film is not the only movie of the 1980s that depicts such a scenario as Marek Kanievska's uneven Bret Easton Ellis adaptation Less Than Zero (1987) stars Robert Downey Jr. as a self-destructive cokehead that eventually betrays his heterosexuality and begins giving and receiving head from fags as a means to fund his ultimately fatal drug addiction. Ironically, director Bridges' degenerate lifestyle and dubious personal relationships resulted in what is the greatest and most intriguing film of his filmmaking career, thus making it all the more tragic that the film only exists today in a butchered cut that both associate producer Larson (who apparently owns a copy of the director's cut) and star Winger agree is inferior to the original director's cut.  Needless to say, the Criterion Collection needs to get in contact with Larson so that we can finally see the release of cinema history's greatest bisexual murder mystery as it was originally intended to be.

A very, very long time ago in 1939, the American revolutionary Francis Parker Yockey wrote while still in college, “Appalling numbers of youth have been led into a cynical ultra-sophisticated attitude which regards drinking as a badge of social aptitude, which makes a fetish of sport and professes eroticism as a way of life. A perverted and insane pictorial art, lewd exhibitionistic dancing and jungle music form the spiritual norm of this sector of America's youth.”  Of course, even Yockey could not have predicted a titular character as stupidly tragic as the titular character of Mike's Murder.  Undoubtedly, what makes the film so intriguing is that has a sort of paradoxical morality that seems to both embrace and decry the sort of hyper hedonistic homosexuality lifestyle it depicts, but I guess one not expect anything less from the auteur piece of a closeted gay man.  Either way, the titular character and his friends are certainly plagued with an all the more apocalyptically degenerate version of the nihilistic social attitude that Yockey warned of.



-Ty E