Love, journalist and cinephile, has assembled a terrific anthology
of his film-related essays and interviews, Supporting Features.
A Glasgow, Scotland, resident, his writing has appeared in such
publications as Uncut, The Guardian, The Scotsman, The Sunday
Herald, and Bright Lights Film Journal. Love is also
the author of Solid, Dad, Crazy, a fascinating study of Robert
Comprised of more than fifty articles, Supporting Features
includes pieces on such film artists (actors, directors, and writers)
as Mitchum, Robert Walker, Humphrey Bogart, Lana Turner, Sam Peckinpah,
Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson, the Rat Pack, Donald Cammell, Monte
Hellman, James Whale, Tod Browning, Orson Welles, Val Lewton, Sam
Fuller, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Audrey Hepburn, Alec Guinness,
John Wayne, Sterling Hayden, Marlon Brando, Richard Harris, James
Coburn, Jeff Corey, Jack Elam, Lawrence Tierney, Timothy Carey,
Warren Oates, Stanley Kubrick, Dennis Hopper, Richard Widmark, Harry
Dean Stanton, Bruce Dern, Burt Young, Kris Kristofferson, David
Carradine, Elliott Gould, Ray Harryhausen, Arthur Penn, Roger Corman,
Walter Hill, John Milius, Manny Farber, Oliver Stone, and Peg Entwistle,
the struggling young actress (and stepmother of Brian Keith) who
committed suicide in 1932 by jumping from the famous Hollywood sign.
"The stories about her ghost haunting the sign started a few years
later," Love observes. "You still hear them-sightings of a pale
blonde, dressed for the '30s, the scent of gardenia. Peg became
the secret saint of all Tinseltown's lost hopeful, all the young
people who go there full of life and dreams, then get used up and
To gain some insight into Love's incisive and wonderfully written
observations, consider these half dozen excerpts.
On Marlon Brando: "Long before the end, Brando had started
to carry his talent and beauty like responsibilities he hadn't asked
for…He took roles for the cash and he let everyone know it. He stopped
learning lines. He gave performances that seemed designed as jokes,
or insults, aimed at his fellow actors, his directors, his audiences.
Himself. He got fat. And yet, no matter how hard, or how little
he tried, the fact of his colossal talent, his incredible beauty,
could never be denied. He was one of the greatest and certainly
the most influential cinema actor in the second half of the 20th
century. That was his curse, and our blessing."
On James Coburn: "Coburn defined himself as 'a jazz kinda
actor, not rock'n'roll.' Indeed, although he became a star as a
rangy, mockingly handsome participant in westerns, war movies and
spy pictures-genres that stress violent action-his acting was always
graceful, almost languid, and hiply aware. Grinning like a silver-haired
Cheshire Cat, with his stonewashed baritone and caustic laugh, Coburn
projected confidence, but he didn't force himself on audiences,
preferring to hang back and slyly observe, even in movies where
he was the whole show."
On Roger Corman: "Roger Corman has assured his place in the
history books several times over. As fast and furious director,
he established the new land-speed record for no-budget feature filmmaking
across the 1950s, outdoing even himself with 1960's Little Shop
of Horrors (shooting schedule: two days). Meanwhile, as producer
of almost 400 exploitation movies since 1955, he remains the most
successful independent filmmaker Hollywood has ever known…If he'd
done nothing but direct the startlingly cosmic X: The Man With
the X-Ray Eyes (1963) or his 1960s cycle of Edgar Allan Poe
adaptations, films that found the perfect balance between doomy,
haunted elegance and trippy, Pop hallucination, he would be remembered."
On Bruce Dern: "People forget that he was Hitchcock's last
leading man. But they remember that, from the mid-1960s to the late-70s,
he was American cinema's most gloriously loose wire, staring from
the screen with eyes like holes in a skull crowned by a wild halo
of hair electrified by the chaos in his mind…Flashing a smile that
barely covered a sneer, Bruce Dern held the franchise on sly guys,
junkies, schemers, cheats, losers and psychos, men simmering on
the edge of breaking down, blowing up or flaking out…The die was
irrevocably cast in 1971, when he killed John Wayne. The film was
The Cowboys, a family picture about Wayne turning boys into
men-until Dern's deranged long-hair showed up to put a bullet in
his back, and a couple more in his legs. The role earned Dern death
threats, but made him immortal."
On Kris Kristofferson: "He has spent a lifetime refusing
to be pinned down. For thirty years, Kris Kristofferson has maintained
a balance between his vocation as a songwriter and his work as an
actor that is unique…It has been a career devoted to confounding
expectations. Born in Brownsville,
Texas, 1936, the son of an Army General, Kristofferson won a
Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford. Academia beckoned-until storied British
impresario Larry Parnes signed him as a teenage popster in the late
1950s. In 1960, he joined the Army. West Point wanted him as an
instructor, so he quit to become a janitor in Nashville. When songs
like 'Help Me Make it Through the Night' made him a country sensation,
he switched to movies."
On Arthur Penn: "In 1967, Arthur Penn finally dragged Hollywood
into the modern era with Bonnie and Clyde. The film featured
the most visceral, bloody, in-your-face violence the American screen
had witnessed till that time, but it alternated the carnage with
romance and slapstick comedy, all scored to goodtime banjo music.
Outraged by the amorality, the Warner Brothers studio practically
disowned it at first, but the movie struck a seismic chord with
audiences…Hollywood had been glamorizing outlaws since day one,
but few films had presented gangsters so strangely beautiful. Presenting
the Depression-era hoodlums as endearingly innocent nonconformists,
yet facing violence for what it is, Penn's movie was the first to
speak to the mood of the disaffected youth culture of the 1960s."
A genuine wordsmith, Love has compiled an engaging, astute, and
important volume. Supporting Features belongs in the library
of every cinema enthusiast.