Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: George C. Scott, Peter Boyle, Season Hubley, Dick Sargent, Leonard Gaines, David Nichols
UK Distributor: Twilight Time
Genre: Drama | Thriller | Crime • Year: 1979 • Country: United States • Running Time: 108 minutes (1:47:40) • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 • Image: Colour • Language: English • Rating: Not Rated • Region: Region Free • Video: 1080p High Definition [Resolution] | MPEG-4 AVC [Codec] • Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 • Subtitles: Optional English SDH
Limited Edition of 3,000 Units
It is very strange to consider that the same man who wrote the likes of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull – and directed such gems as Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and Blue Collar – was also responsible for such underwhelming disappointments as The Canyons and Dying of the Light.
Back in 1979 however – just three years after the success of Taxi Driver – a top form Paul Schrader wrote and directed arguably his most harrowing film, Hardcore; his second feature, and another scalding exploration of unseen subcultures, this time delving into the murky underworld of the West Coast porn industry of the 1970s.
The wonderful George C. Scott stars as successful Michigan businessman, Jake Van Dorn, a single father and devout Calvinist who begins a desperate, no-holds-barred search for his teenage daughter when she inexplicably vanishes during a church-sponsored trip to California. When Peter Boyle’s unorthodox private investigator, Andy Mast, identifies the girl in an apparently untraceable 8mm stag film, Van Dorn must put aside his strong reformist beliefs and burrow deep into the sordid world of Hardcore pornography in order to determine the truth behind his daughter’s strange disappearance.
Given that Van Dorn has hired a private investigator to work on the case, you may be under the impression that Boyle’s Mast would tackle the majority of the seedy digging, but that is far from the case, and instead Schrader has Van Dorn himself take on the majority of the dirty work. Considering Peter Boyle’s ability he does feel a little underused, and the role could definitely have been fleshed out a little more to accommodate. Season Hubley offers nice support too as young prostitute and part-time ‘actress’ Niki, the ‘lost girl’ with a deep-rooted need for a father figure whom Van Dorn hires to aid him in his search.
Supporting performances aside though, this is most definitely the George C. Scott show, and he utterly immerses himself in the tour-de-force role, proving why Schrader, and many others, considered him one of the world’s greatest actors.
Schrader does a very effective job at establishing character in a very short space of time, using the film’s whimsical, Christmassy opening title sequence – accompanied by a selection of carols and hymns – to introduce Van Dorn’s proud religious and family values, and lure the audience into a false sense of security, disarming them for the visceral events to follow.
‘Society against the common man’ is a recurring theme that pulses through much of Schrader’s work, and he once again has his protagonist plumbing the very depths of society, violently taking on the system and ardently defending (and often defying) his values as he does so. Hardcore epitomises every parent’s worst nightmare, and despite a slightly rushed conclusion, Schrader captures the grim reality in generally excellent fashion.
Special Features: Isolated Score Track | Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Paul Schrader | Audio Commentary with Film Historians Eddy Friedfeld, Lee Pfeiffer, and Paul Scrabo | Original Theatrical Trailer [1:21] | 6-Page Booklet: Featuring Production Stills and Booklet Essay by Julie Kirgo
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