Hank Williams on the radio in a tumbleweed Texas town. Watched the night of P-Bog’s passing – lately I’ve really enjoyed his films, so I probably shouldn’t have started out with The Cat’s Meow. This got all the award nominations in its time. For such an auteurist filmmaker, it’s so actor-focused, discovering at least four future stars and pitting them against established and veteran actors.

Cybill and Randy:

Young Timothy Bottoms has an affair with his coach’s wife. The boys buy a prostitute for Mute Billy and it goes poorly. Ben Johnson, the pool hall and picture show proprietor who is everybody’s role model, dies suddenly offscreen. Jeff Bridges punches his friend’s eye out then joins the army. Everything’s shabby and everyone’s stuck – would be interesting to see the sequel made 20 years later.

Officially P-Bog’s follow-up to Targets, though he also made a John Ford doc and helped Corman with some MST3k-bait. DP Robert Surtees, who worked not with John Ford but a bunch of big directors through the 1950’s, shot the hell out of it. Written by Larry McMurtry, who also died in the past year, and filmed in his hometown.

After a tinted windowboxed flashback over classic pop music, Alice is grown up and is Ellen Burstyn, has son Tommy and real asshole husband (Billy Green Bush of Critters), who dies in a car crash in under 15 minutes. Alice wants to be a decent mom but her only skill is bar singer, and she tends to attract abusive dudes like young cowboy Harvey Keitel, so they ditch another town and she’s a waitress in Tucson when lovely Kris Kristofferson shows up – it’s a coincidence that I watched both of his 1974 movies the same month. Tommy hangs out with bad influence Jodie Foster, his mom has to deal with sardonic coworker Diane Ladd, and they both have to decide whether Kris can be trusted.

Ellen and Diane:

Harvey and his scorpion:

Not as revelatory as After Hours, but pretty great. A TV series based on this movie ran for nine seasons, I had no idea! Burstyn won the oscar, Ladd lost to Ingrid Bergman’s worst performance, and Chronicle of the Years of Fire beat it at Cannes.