Saturday, 16 January 2010

The River Rat

While washing up, I was musing about this blog and the choices I had made for my favourite films, when I had a revelation. There were two major omissions - 'The River Rat' with Tommy Lee Jones and Martha Plimpton, and 'Rachel and the Stranger' with Loretta Young, Robert Mitchum and William Holden. How on earth could I have forgotten about them? The answer came all too easily - neither have been on television in a good long while, and that is the pretty much the only way anyone in the UK is going to be able to see them.

'The River Rat' (1984) is a smashing film about a convict released from prison and trying to build a relationship with the teenage daughter he hardly knows, while having to counter the attempts of the prison psychiatrist to blackmail him into giving up the hiding place of the money he stole. No big budget film this, but effective all the same. It captures the atmosphere of the Mississippi, and I wonder if it is partly responsible for my fondness for the novels of James Lee Burke? Other pluses were effective acting by the cast, and great country music. Mike Post was the composer, but it was Joey Scarbury who sang 'The River's Song' and I think it a terrible shame that hardly anyone appears to have heard ot if. Good films and good music should not be consigned to near-oblivion.

At about the same time as 'The River Rat' Tommy Lee Jones was in a pirate film called 'Savage Islands' ('Nate and Hayes' was the American title). The set up was not dissimilar to 'Pirates of the Caribbean' but with Jones in the Johnny Depp role. It was (and still is) great fun, with some spectacular New Zealand locations. But there you go, if you want to see it, you will just have to keep your fingers crossed and hope that those reponsible for the television schedules like it too....

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