Yilmaz Güney, Part II: The Poor Ones (1975)

January 31, 2012 | By

Not a happy dude. At all.

The screening of The Poor Ones / Zavallilar [M] (1975) marks the approximate midpoint in the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s current retrospective of Turkish actor, writer, director Yilmaz Guney, and although not as powerful as his Cannes-winning Yol [M] (1982), Poor Ones has its moments of sharp social commentary. It’s also one  mother of a bleak film, yet Guney clearly took a popular genre from one country and created his own hybrid, infusing it with the so-called mirror images of Turkish society as filtered through his sensibilities.

A production affected by a major incident – Guney’s arrest and incarceration – the film features one of his last major roles in front of the camera before he switched to writing and directing, most of those efforts done from behind bars.

It’s ironic that an actor who became a star playing rebels and heroes and social misfits, sometimes in trouble with the law, would become a victim himself, but perhaps the deprivation of being a hands-on filmmaker forced him to focus on careful plotting, and richer characters – the latter giving other actors the kind of meaty roles he had enjoyed and parlayed to great fame.

The TBL’s series ends Sunday February 5 with his final role as an actor in The Friend (1975), but there’s still Elegy (1971), Bride of the Earth (1968), and The Hungry Wolves (1969) playing in between. Plan your week / skip classes / call in sick accordingly, but don’t cite me as an influence, because I’ll deny it all, including this very sentence you’re reading.

The review of Poor Ones is already up (see above for link), and we’ll see if my schedule can allow for another Guney or two, adding a Part III or IV to this series.

Unsurprisingly, there are DVDs of his work in Spain, but as we all know Spain contains the World’s Greatest Video Store on the planet, which is why every film you’ve ever wanted exists there on DVD (and if they haven’t released it yet, they will.)

The increasing paucity of catalogue material – classics, foreign flicks, etc. – is a major problem for film fans in North America, because the major studios have become highly selective over what vintage and contemporary classics they release on DVD and Blu-ray, redirecting the rest towards MOD delivery via on-demand DVD-Rs and digital streaming.

Coming very soon is an interview with Nick Redman, veteran soundtrack producer, Oscar Nominated documentary producer (The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage, co-produced with director Paul Seydor), and co-founder of Twilight Time, the indie home video who recently rescued gems such as The Egyptian [M] and The Rapture [M] from oblivion.

Although ostensibly a home video label profile, the discussion frequently addresses an issue that’s front and centre with classic film fans: Why have studios largely abandoned their back catalogue?

Part I of my Twilight Time profile will run later this week, in conjunction with an expanded review of the label’s recent Blu-ray edition of Ray Harryhausen’s Mysterious Island, and I’ll follow up with the label’s latest Blu-ray releases – John Huston’s The Roots of Heaven (1958), and Joshua Logan’s Picnic (1955).

Once again for novices: these titles are exclusively available from Screen Archives Entertainment. With the exception of Fright Night [M] (1985), all other titles are still in print, so beware of Amazon & eBay speculators wanting a few hundred for something that’s a click away. Also coming soon from the label are Blu-rays of Jean Renoir’s Swamp Water (1941) and George Sidney’s Pal Joey (1957), featuring that goddamn “My Funny Valentine” song that makes me cry every time. Evil, manipulative thing.



Mark R. Hasan, Editor
KQEK.com ( Main Site / Mobile Site )

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