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THE EXORCIST III appreciation thread - Page 4

post #151 of 218
Thread Starter 
Miller may well have screwed himself out of a bigger career thanks to personal problems, but it shouldn't be overlooked that he, like Williamson, was primarily a stage actor. It's not like he wasn't working.
post #152 of 218

Absolutely. Sometimes it is a career choice. Theater is their love (with all three guys mentioned) and they kept their focus there.

 

It's just weird how Ellen Burstyn and Max von Sydow kept trucking on. Even Linda Blair got some big gigs off the heat of The Exorcist.

post #153 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmNerdJamie View Post

Funny you mention Miller's Tale, I was wondering about that last week.

Miller is another one (like Nigel Terry in Excalibur) who went right back into the shadows after headlining a big hit movie. Weird how he's never gotten his proper dues with The Exorcist given he is the lead characterThat Championship Season is on my To Watch list.
The stage play was enormously successful, but the film was a failure. Miller never recovered, according to his family.
post #154 of 218

The stage play won him the Pulitzer Price, I believe.

post #155 of 218
He won the Pulitzer Price, all right: an inability to match his earlier success, followed by a descent into alcoholism.
post #156 of 218

I've always been disappointed by the fact that we didn't ever get to see Miller take on another role like Karras.  He's so goddamn good in THE EXORCIST.  I mean, everyone's pretty goddamn good in there, but Miller's melancholy quality makes it really easy to invest in his story, and it makes his arc all the more powerful.

post #157 of 218

Part of the authenticity of The Exorcist. He looks and sounds like an actual Priest. Fitting since Miller actually trained to be one.

 

His face alone sells everything. The guilt over his mother, being burnt out and in turmoil over his faith and most importantly his determination to save the little girl at the end.

Quote:

INTERIOR- MACNEIL HOUSE- FOYER- NIGHT 

 

Downstairs Karras sits brooding as Chris enters. 

 

CHRIS

Is it over? 

 

Karras shakes his head negatively. 

 

CHRIS

Is she gonna die? 

 

KARRAS

(firmly)

No. 

 

He rises and starts ascending the stairs with renewed conviction. 

post #158 of 218

The thing is, having never really known for the longest time that Miller returning to Karras all the way through Exorcist 3 was the whole plan, and while I'm interested to have seen what he could have done with playing The Gemini Killer, the way they pieced him and Dourif together has never bothered me.  And having Miller in the movie at all is a damn miracle. 

post #159 of 218

THE NICKEL RIDE, which features one of Miller's few leading roles, is one of the great films of the 1970s and should not be overlooked.

post #160 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malmordo View Post
 

THE NICKEL RIDE, which features one of Miller's few leading roles, is one of the great films of the 1970s and should not be overlooked.

I just watched the trailer for this, and now I have to find this movie immediately!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmNerdJamie View Post
 

Part of the authenticity of The Exorcist. He looks and sounds like an actual Priest. Fitting since Miller actually trained to be one.

 

His face alone sells everything. The guilt over his mother, being burnt out and in turmoil over his faith and most importantly his determination to save the little girl at the end.

Every moment he's onscreen is totally convincing.  In a year packed with terrific male performances, he should have brought home the Oscar.

post #161 of 218
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malmordo View Post

THE NICKEL RIDE, which features one of Miller's few leading roles, is one of the great films of the 1970s and should not be overlooked.

 


Robert Mulligan was on a roll in the 70s, that's for sure. THE OTHER is one of the all-time great gothic horror films. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a classic and all but the rest of the man's filmography needs more attention.
post #162 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnotaur3 View Post
 

The thing is, having never really known for the longest time that Miller returning to Karras all the way through Exorcist 3 was the whole plan, and while I'm interested to have seen what he could have done with playing The Gemini Killer, the way they pieced him and Dourif together has never bothered me.  And having Miller in the movie at all is a damn miracle. 

 

Going back and forth between Miller and Dourif is masterfully executed. Adds to the eeriness to the film.

post #163 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmNerdJamie View Post
 

 

Going back and forth between Miller and Dourif is masterfully executed. Adds to the eeriness to the film.

 

Interestingly enough, I think the movie sort of does what the original film did. It presents the supernatural bluntly there, surrounded by people who are unwilling to look at it. 

post #164 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnotaur3 View Post
 

 

Interestingly enough, I think the movie sort of does what the original film did. It presents the supernatural bluntly there, surrounded by people who are unwilling to look at it. 

 

Only problem is the exorcisms themselves are night and day between the original and III.

 

There is some striking imagery in III (like Damien on the cross in the sea of hands). But overall it's just damn silly compared to the reality the original establishes and sticks it throughout.

post #165 of 218

Thankfully the exorcism stuff is kept to the end. 

post #166 of 218
Thread Starter 

I mentioned in the Re-Up thread that I watched THE NICKEL RIDE, but since the talk started here I wanted to register some thoughts about Jason Miller in that movie.  Casting him was a really interesting choice - and no doubt a direct consequence of his cachet from THE EXORCIST - because his character represents the old timer who is being maneuvered out by the new generation.  On paper this casting seems laughable because Miller was only 34-35 when he shot THE NICKEL RIDE, and yet he utterly sells the idea that he's a worn-out hood from a different era.

 

According to Wikipedia, Miller was up for TAXI DRIVER but turned it down for this movie.  Additionally, Robert Mulligan was apparently attached to direct TAXI DRIVER at one point.  Says Wikipedia:

 

Quote:

In the mid-1970s, Mulligan was briefly engaged in talks with producers Julia and Michael Phillips to direct Taxi Driver (1976), with Jeff Bridges to star as the psychotic Travis Bickle. Objections posed by screenwriter Paul Schrader caused the project to be turned over to Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro instead. Schrader later elaborated on his disapproval of Mulligan as the film's director: "I was fighting that off because it didn't make any sense to me. Yet it was a deal, and God knows I wanted to see the film made. To Michael and Julia's credit, they were not keen on this either, but it was something that was around and that could have gone... You can write the most complex character, and if the director isn't a complex man, it won't be a complex character on the screen. Travis Bickle is very complex, full of contradictions. If Mulligan, [Robert] Aldrich or [Mark] Rydell had directed that, it would have been a very simple person; they don't make complex people. If they do, they end up cardboard complex, lacking in passion."

 

I think that's a really harsh and unfair assessment on Schrader's part, though you can't argue with the results of TAXI DRIVER as interpreted by Scorsese and De Niro.  Can you imagine how different Miller's career might have been though had he managed to keep that heat he had coming off of THE EXORCIST with TAXI DRIVER instead of THE NICKEL RIDE, which essentially got burned off by 20th Century Fox and was seen by no one? 

post #167 of 218

Not to derail the thread, but I would have loved to have seen TAXI DRIVER helmed by Mulligan and starring Bridges.

 

Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of the TAXI DRIVER we got. And, yeah, Schrader was way out of line with those comments.


Edited by Malmordo - 12/7/17 at 8:01am
post #168 of 218
Thread Starter 

Schrader is known to speak his mind when he clashes with a director, like with CLOSE ENCOUNTERS.  Though to be fair, it's clear that he and Spielberg were making completely different movies there.

post #169 of 218
Schrader was attached to Close Encounters?

Boy I feel dumb.
post #170 of 218
Thread Starter 

There were a bunch of writers involved with CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, including Schrader, David Giler, Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins.  Only Spielberg got the final writing credit.  I suspect Spielberg had a strong vision but no ability to write a script himself, so he hired collaborators who could get him part of the way there before taking over.  He couldn't do it from the blank page, but he could revise someone else's work to what he wanted.

 

Anyway, here's Schrader's talking broadly about his differences with Spielberg on the project:

 

 

post #171 of 218

That's an interesting pitch for a movie I would like to see some day.

 

But it's not a Spielberg movie. 

post #172 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by FatherDude View Post
 

There were a bunch of writers involved with CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, including Schrader, David Giler, Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins.  Only Spielberg got the final writing credit.  I suspect Spielberg had a strong vision but no ability to write a script himself, so he hired collaborators who could get him part of the way there before taking over.  He couldn't do it from the blank page, but he could revise someone else's work to what he wanted.

 

Anyway, here's Schrader's talking broadly about his differences with Spielberg on the project:

 

 


Schrader sounds far less bitter about the whole thing than I imagined.  I think he's trying to take the classy road, and I appreciate that.

 

To bring things back around to the EXORCIST realm, does anyone know of any particularly good interviews with him about his EXORCIST experience?

post #173 of 218
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnotaur3 View Post
 

That's an interesting pitch for a movie I would like to see some day.

 

But it's not a Spielberg movie. 

 

What makes it juicy is that Spielberg was pretty blunt about his disdain for Schrader's draft.  Check out this passage from Spielberg: The Man, the Movies, the Mythology:

 

Quote:

The first draft of the script, which never got made, was written by Paul Schrader, the theology-obsessed writer-director of such ham-handed morality tales as Hardcore and American Gigolo.

 

Raised in a strict Protestant sect, Schrader wanted to graft the story of Saint Paul onto a visitors-from-outer-space story.  In Schrader’s version, his hero Paul Van Owen (after Saint Paul) is an Air Force officer assigned the task of disproving the existence of UFOs.  Eventually, this doubting Thomas not only sees a UFO but is abducted by one and whisked away from the earth.  The climactic scene re-creates the famous Biblical passage where Paul is knocked off his horse by God and only then becomes a believer.  In Schrader’s script, God is replaced by extraterrestrials.

 

The Schrader script was so off-putting, Close Encounters’ producer Julia Phillips wrote in her acerbic memoir that she didn’t even show it to David Begelman, then head of production at Columbia.  She wrote that Begelman “has agreed not to read Schrader’s first draft, called Kingdom Come, because I told him it would make him not want to make the movie.  Certainly it was not a screenplay that Steven wanted to direct.”

 

Julia Phillips had only herself – and her husband Michael – to blame for the gobbledygook that Schrader made of the Close Encounters script.  The husband and wife team had had such a good relationship with Schrader on The Taxi Driver, which Schrader wrote and they produced for Martin Scorsese, that Phillips felt he would be perfect for Close Encounters.  Schrader explained their reasoning, which turned out to be way off base: “They felt that my sensibility, being extremely Germanic and moralistic, was the proper counrterpoint to Steve’s sensibility,” Schrader said.

 

In fact, Spielberg hated the script, finding Schrader’s injection of Calvinist theology laughable in what the director basically envisioned as an A-budget B-movie.  The usually diplomatic director even was quoted as describing Schrader’s effort as “one of the most embarrassing screenplays ever professionally turned into a major studio or director.  Actually, it was fortunate that Paul went so far away on his own tangent, a terrible guilt-ridden story, not about UFOs at all, it was more about the Church and the State and it was…horrendous.  Absolutely horrendous.”

 

The departure point for Schrader’s script was a short story called “Experiences,” written in 1970 by Spielberg when he was still a television director.  Spielberg’s concept was to combine a UFO encounter and a massive Watergate-style cover-up of the sighting.  Schrader must have found some comfort in the fact the he did convince Spielberg to junk the Watergate cover-up plot and focus more on the mystical encounter with the spaceship.  “The only thing I deserve credit for is changing Steve’s mind about doing the film as a UFO Watergate.  I thought it ought to be about a spiritual encounter.  That idea stayed and germinated,” Schrader told author Tony Crowley in 1983.

 

Phillips also credited Schrader with creating the Dreyfuss character.  However, Spielberg had otherwise so thoroughly rejected Schrader’s script that the writer didn’t even protest to the Writers Guild’s arbitration panel when his name was left off the “screenplay by” or “story by” credits.

 

Spielberg received solo writing credit on the film, and his version bore no resemblance to Schrader’s theological gobbledy-gook.  Hard work must have made it so.  Spielberg had been obsessed with writing his own version of an encounter with extraterrestrials.  Over a two-year period, he churned out six different versions of the story until he was finally satisfied enough to shout “Action.”

 

The book goes on to talk about Spielberg being pissed when Dreyfuss asked for gross points, and how he jealously kept Verna Fields off the project (she was supposed to be associate producer) because he felt she got too much credit for JAWS.  Anecdotes like this are why I can't be bothered with the HBO doc on Spielberg.  Why settle for a hagiography when the interesting stories are out there?

 

(I know I'm only contributing to the off-topic discussion, but hey, it's my thread to wreck.  I trust you guys to talk again about THE EXORCIST III if you have something to say about it.)

post #174 of 218
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belloq87 View Post

 

To bring things back around to the EXORCIST realm, does anyone know of any particularly good interviews with him about his EXORCIST experience?

 

If you didn't catch Erik's interview with him upon the release of his prequel that we talked about upthread, it's highly recommended.  Schrader is enjoyably candid and fatalistic about his experiences with Morgan Creek.

post #175 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by FatherDude View Post
 

 

What makes it juicy is that Spielberg was pretty blunt about his disdain for Schrader's draft.  Check out this passage from Spielberg: The Man, the Movies, the Mythology:

 

 

The book goes on to talk about Spielberg being pissed when Dreyfuss asked for gross points, and how he jealously kept Verna Fields off the project (she was supposed to be associate producer) because he felt she got too much credit for JAWS.  Anecdotes like this are why I can't be bothered with the HBO doc on Spielberg.  Why settle for a hagiography when the interesting stories are out there?

 

(I know I'm only contributing to the off-topic discussion, but hey, it's my thread to wreck.  I trust you guys to talk again about THE EXORCIST III if you have something to say about it.)

 

Sounds like Spielberg had quite a bit of ego in his early glory days. 

post #176 of 218
Thread Starter 
Spielberg also didn't like THE EXORCIST, apparently.
post #177 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by FatherDude View Post

Spielberg also didn't like THE EXORCIST, apparently.

I could see that.  I could easily envision him being put off by the intensity or the docu-drama approach of Friedkin's filmmaking.  And perhaps it just wasn't his sort of horror film; after all, he famously didn't like THE SHINING very much when he first saw it, either, having gone into it hoping for much more of a funhouse ride instead of the slow dread of the actual movie.

post #178 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by FatherDude View Post

Spielberg also didn't like THE EXORCIST, apparently.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Belloq87 View Post
 

I could see that.  I could easily envision him being put off by the intensity or the docu-drama approach of Friedkin's filmmaking.  And perhaps it just wasn't his sort of horror film; after all, he famously didn't like THE SHINING very much when he first saw it, either, having gone into it hoping for much more of a funhouse ride instead of the slow dread of the actual movie.

 

Scorsese certainly didn't and preferred The Exorcist II

 

Impression I get based on Marty and the Beard (That sounds like a kids show)'s reactions might be more aimed at their dislike of Friedkin (who was, by all accounts, a monster on The Exorcist shoot and an all-around bastard in his heyday) and less the film itself. Pure guess on my part.

post #179 of 218

Yeah, Friedkin was notoriously a manipulative and insane director, and he'd tell you as much now. 

post #180 of 218
From Mr. Scorsays:
Quote:
Again, we're dealing with metaphysics. The picture asks: Does great goodness bring upon itself great evil? This goes back to the Book of Job; it's God testing the good. In this sense, Regan (Linda Blair) is a modern-day saint -- like Ingrid Bergman in Europa '51, and, in a way, like Charlie in Mean Streets. I like the first Exorcist, because of the Catholic guilt I have, and because it scared the hell out of me; but The Heretic surpasses it. Maybe Boorman failed to execute the material, but the movie still deserved better than it got.
post #181 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtomTastic View Post

From Mr. Scorsays:


I'm still baffled every time I see that quote.  For anyone to think that THE HERETIC does a better job of examining the core themes about spirituality and good & evil is just insane to me.

post #182 of 218

"Fuck you, Billy" is all I read there.

post #183 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmNerdJamie View Post

"Fuck you, Billy" is all I read there.
lol ok
post #184 of 218

I knew he was a bit of a nut onset, but I didn't realize that Friedkin generated that amount of dislike among his peers.

post #185 of 218
Jamie gonna Jamie.
post #186 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belloq87 View Post
 

I knew he was a bit of a nut onset, but I didn't realize that Friedkin generated that amount of dislike among his peers.

 

He was a part of the Movie Brat generation. But you never hear anything about him paling around with the likes of Spielberg, Lucas, Scorsese, Coppola, De Palma, etc. 

 

Closest thing was the Directors Company with Coppola and Bogdanovich 'till that imploded.

post #187 of 218
Thread Starter 
The story goes that Friedkin was originally set up to direct THE EXORCIST III, but he and Blatty had creative differences. Not too surprising, since they clashed on the original movie too, but it would be interesting to know what their disagreement was based on with this story.
post #188 of 218

I want to see the Carpenter Exorcist III.

post #189 of 218

Curious exactly what Boorman had in mind for Kinderman in The Exorcist II before Lee J Cobb died.

post #190 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmNerdJamie View Post
 

Curious exactly what Boorman had in mind for Kinderman in The Exorcist II before Lee J Cobb died.


Is there any reason to think Boorman even would have included the character?  I believe the final film doesn't even bother to mention Karras of all people (it's all Merrin, Merrin, Merrin), so I don't know that we would have gotten anything from Kinderman.

post #191 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belloq87 View Post
 

Is there any reason to think Boorman even would have included the character?  I believe the final film doesn't even bother to mention Karras of all people (it's all Merrin, Merrin, Merrin), so I don't know that we would have gotten anything from Kinderman.

 

Kinderman was originally going to have a prominent role in The Heretic. Cobb signed on to return but died right before production started. Boorman had to scramble and rework everything apparently.

 

And strangely, Louise Fletcher originally signed on to play Chris MacNeil after Ellen Burstyn refused.

post #192 of 218

Wow.  Would have been a much different movie if either of those things had come to pass.

post #193 of 218

It still would have been a disaster, make no mistake. But proper casting can go a long way.

 

I think the big difference would have been if Boorman got either of his picks for Father Lamont. A then-unknown Christopher Walken who screen-tested but was rejected by Warner Brothers brass (and later made him cast Richard Burton) and Jon Voight (who like Jason Miller, originally trained to be a priest in real life). The latter was actually cast but eventually backed out to Boorman's dismay. Probably cause he could smell the stench from the script.

 

Incidentally Burt Reynolds did the same thing to Boorman on Zardoz.

post #194 of 218
Casting is the least of Exorcist II’s problems.
post #195 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtomTastic View Post

Casting is the least of Exorcist II’s problems.

 

 

post #196 of 218
post #197 of 218

post #198 of 218
Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmNerdJamie View Post
 

I think the big difference would have been if Boorman got either of his picks for Father Lamont. A then-unknown Christopher Walken who screen-tested but was rejected by Warner Brothers brass (and later made him cast Richard Burton) and Jon Voight (who like Jason Miller, originally trained to be a priest in real life). The latter was actually cast but eventually backed out to Boorman's dismay. Probably cause he could smell the stench from the script.

Going younger with the character would have been so much better, and could have been a nice mirror of Karras.  I think Voight - in the more sensitive, COMING HOME phase of his career - could have been great... if given a coherent screenplay and a coherent character.

post #199 of 218

And dare I say... if only they could have recast Regan. Linda Blair is terrible in The Heretic.

post #200 of 218

She's not good, no, but at the same time - if you're WB in the mid 1970s - why bother doing an EXORCIST sequel if you're not going to bring anybody of consequence back?

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