The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Bud Cort Day *

* (restored)


‘Many a first date has been given an adrenaline boost as soon as each member of the dubious couple discovers that Harold and Maude is the other’s favorite film. More meaningful than merely cult popular, Harold and Maude was a spiritual experience to many an earnest college kid who thrilled to its anti-establishment, devil-may-care spirit and its macabre sensibility, set to the tune of Cat Stevens’ glorious soundtrack.

‘Gloomy, ashen and nearly necrophiliac, the 20-year-old Harold Chasen, played with comic catatonia by Bud Cort, is addicted to committing suicide. Then he meets a feisty, vital septuagenarian named Maude. Under Maude’s sexualized tutelage, Harold learns to embrace life. Following her groove, Harold learns to heed Stevens’ do-your-own-thing musical creed: “If you want to sing out sing out/And if you want to be free be free/’Cause there’s a million ways to be/You know that there are.”

‘When the film was released in 1971, critics panned it and it promptly flopped. Eventually it found a home at college art houses and achieved a certain cult status among motley, artsy misanthropes. Ruth Gordon, who played Maude, died in 1985. Three years later the film’s director, Hal Ashby, and screenwriter, Colin Higgins, also died, the latter from AIDS. But Bud Cort, still very much alive, was one of those young stars who aged awkwardly and never really found his niche or reclaimed his fame. And a devastating car crash followed by years of physical therapy and plastic surgery further hampered the development of his career.

‘Now, with the 30th anniversary of Harold and Maude coming up, Cort is trying to convince Paramount to release a commemorative laser-disc version to go with a book he’s writing about it. Yet, with a slew of new films in the works, he is also determined to leave Harold behind.

‘In 1996, the Los Angeles Times called him “a generational icon a quarter-century ago, a kind of midnight movie poster boy.” While flattered to hear of his impact on young actors and fans, Cort said that “my dream is to get that reaction for new projects, for new characters.” He called his cult status both “a blessing and a curse.” He told the Times, “I was typecast to the point where I didn’t make a film for five years after Harold and Maude. He was offered a role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which he rejected, explaining, “I just didn’t want to play crazy. I fought certain opportunities off because I wasn’t ready to be a brand name. In retrospect, I should have done everything.” And he says of his most famous film, “I’ve had my moments where I just cursed that movie and wished I’d never done it.”

‘While doing stand-up at Upstairs at the Downstairs, Cort was discovered by Robert Altman and cast as Pvt. Boone in the 1970 smash M*A*S*H. Next, Altman cast Cort in the title role of the black comedy/fantasy Brewster McCloud, about an owlish egghead who dreams of flying through the Houston Astrodome. Having proven that he could do quirky and black, Cort was then cast as an angelic ghoul, a troubled rich kid, in Harold and Maude.

‘The movie started out as a half-hour master’s thesis when then-31-year old Colin Higgins was attending UCLA. But it would develop into a substantive film of surprising philosophical and political scope. Wiser than merely an eccentric dark comedy that kindles rebellious, daisy-tossing joie de vivre, the movie is also an impeccably subtle (actually unspoken) exploration of the legacy of the Holocaust. In one succinct shot, the camera focuses on Maude’s tattoo keepsake from World War II — a fleeting and unequivocal clue to her grab-life-by-the-balls personality.

‘Unfortunately, the critics never got it. Nor were they amused, and the film flopped at the box office and closed quickly. In the New York Times, Vincent Canby grumped, “You might well want to miss Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude.” Variety called it a “tasteless offbeat comedy [that] has all the fun and gaiety of a burning orphanage.” Meanwhile, Film Quarterly wrote that the film is “one of the best movies to come out of Hollywood in years. It is a love story, a sentimental black comedy, a ludicrous tear-jerker, a grisly social satire.”

‘Eventually, Harold and Maude would play for two years in Paris, where Cort won a Crystal Star (the French equivalent of the Academy Award.) In college towns and art houses, the film found a devoted audience among disaffected youth. While the wild ones would watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show ad infinitum, the sensitive ones watched Harold and Maude again and again. One zealot claims to have seen it 201 times. “Harolding” became part of the teen lexicon: A term morose mopes coined to describe their penchant for cemetery-dwelling. Eventually, after 12 years, the film turned a profit. Meanwhile, Cort braved his cult status, with fervent fans leaving tombstones and pictures of dead babies’ graves at his door.

‘Wary of being typecast, he turned his attention toward the theater, making his Broadway debut in Simon Grey’s Wise Child. He also did Chekhov, Ionesco and Beckett. Most recently he garnered accolades as a disillusioned circus clown in He Who Gets Slapped, an adaptation of Russian playwright Leonid Andreyev’s tragicomedy.

‘In 1979, Cort was involved in a terrible car accident on the Hollywood Freeway on his way back from a Frank Sinatra concert. He broke an arm and a leg and sustained a concussion and a fractured skull. His face was severely lacerated, his lower lip cut and hanging by a thread. In 1984, he told People magazine, “When I got up the nerve to look at myself in a mirror for the first time, I screamed. I looked like a monster, with my forehead, face and lip all sewn up. I wanted to die.” Cort underwent three operations for plastic surgery and remains unsatisfied with the result. “I try not to look in mirrors,” he said.

‘Cort spent all of his savings on medical bills and went on to lose a $10 million suit he had brought against the driver of the other car. He found himself broke and without work. While he receives annual residual checks from Paramount for Harold and Maude, (the last one was for $28.77 ), he doesn’t get any profit from video distribution. “I get no participation from video sales — I’d be a millionaire if I did,” Cort has said. “I made next to nothing from that movie.”

‘In the past 20 years, Cort has made 30 forgettable films, including playing the role of Norman Bates’ creepy proxy in the TV flick The Bates Motel. After the accident, he’d stopped being choosy and uninterested in weirdo roles. His disfigurement motivated him to go into radio, where he did a bit of voice work, including a successfully syndicated reading of The Catcher in the Rye.

‘In 1991, he made his debut as a director with Ted & Venus a low-budget romance about a crazed poet on Venice Beach that he also wrote and starred in. While the film’s producer called the movie the “spiritual sequel” of Harold and Maude, the critics were not moved. The L.A. Times wrote, “Bud Cort was as appealing in the milestone comedy (Harold and Maude) as he is repellent in this film.” Variety’s Todd McCarthy called it “a highly unpleasant yarn about a lovelorn sickie who endlessly torments a beautiful young woman.” The film — with cameos by Woody Harrelson, Gena Rowlands, Andrea Martin, Timothy Leary, Carol Kane and Martin Mull, went straight to video.

‘In the coming year, Cort will appear in four or five films, some of which already have pretty good street cred. He has a role in the highly controversial, much anticipated Dogma, Kevin Smith’s religious satire starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, with Alanis Morissette as God. And he will portray the strait-laced dad of Natasha Lyonne’s high school cheerleader in But I’m a Cheerleader. In the film, the girl is sent by her parents to rehab camp when it’s suspected that she’s a lesbian. He will also appear in Dwight Yoakam’s western South of Heaven, West of Hell, starring Vince Vaughn, Billy Bob Thornton and Paul Rubens. Further, Cort will be seen in Ed Harris’ bio-pic about Jackson Pollack and the Bono-scripted Million Dollar Hotel, about a murder at a skid-row hotel.

‘Cort may ultimately crack his typecast. Indeed, a new generation of kids is growing up that has never heard of Harold and Maude. But for many a poetic soul, Harold and Maude is bound to stay around forever. As Colin Higgins once explained, “We’re all Harold, and we all want to be Maude. We’re all repressed and trying to be free, to be ourselves, to be vitally interested in living, to be everything we want.”’ — Salon





Bud Cort @ IMDb
Fuck Yeah Bud Cort
Bud Cort @ The Criterion Collection
‘A Near-Fatal Car Crash Shatters the Career of a Movie Cult Hero’
‘The Long Shadow of Bud Cort’
‘Harold Meets Harold’
‘Trying to Have the Last Laugh’
The Harold and Maude Homepage
Bud Cort Merch
‘Bud Cort and Groucho Marx’s tooth’
‘Grouch Marx was my fairy godfather’
‘SF Sketchfest salutes cult film star Bud Cort’
Bud Cort interviewed @ Chud
‘Bud Cort on Bud Cort Cut Short by El Niño’



Bud Cort on Roseanne

Pumping Iron – Unseen Footage – Bud Cort

Bud Cort in ‘Telephone’ (1986)

Bud Cort in Hollywood


from Train Wreck Society


You’ve had an amazing career on the screen, and equally so on the stage. If you were to only choose one, which would you say would hold a more prominent spot in your heart?

Bud Cort: Radio. I got to read the entire J.D Salinger novel Catcher in the Rye for radio station K.P.F.K. in Los Angeles. The whole book is written in the first person so it’s really the greatest monologue ever put down for an actor. A close second would be when I played Clov in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York and then in Los Angeles at the Mayfair Theater. Third would be She Dances Alone. This film is a jewel. It’s about madness and the artistic process and the great dancer Nijinsky through the eyes of his eccentric daughter Kyra Nijinsky who by looking at you would never believe she could possibly evoke her father through her own dancing. I played the director of this film within a film and Max Von Sydow narrated it reading from Nijinsky’s diaries. It’s magical.

What was it like living with Groucho Marx for an entire decade?

BC: It was a Fulbright scholarship in comedy.

Did your mother actually turn down a marriage proposal from Clark Gable?

BC: (Laughs) No, no. She worked for MGM studios in New York during the war when my father was over in Germany fighting. (His troop was the first in to liberate Dachau, (the concentration camp). They had to clean it up at its worst for the arrival of Eisenhower and his brass. My mother was a part of special services for MGM, which today would be considered the p.r. arm of a studio. She would pick Clark Gable up at Grand Central Station, escort him to the Plaza Hotel, and sit through all of his interviews for his latest film. Afterward if he was hungry or just wanted to be around people she would be his companion for dinner and dancing at the Stork Club. By the end of the week if he was fried she would drive him to a little hotel in the Poconos. Obviously both being married they had separate rooms. But anytime she spoke about him she always got a special faraway look in her eyes. I always fantasized he was my father because of my dimples and frankly I didn’t look that much like my own father. She was also great pals with Harold Lloyd.

You were absolutely incredible in your portrayal of Bill Ubell in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. And Wes Anderson is a personally hero of mine so I have to ask, how was it working under the direction of Anderson? I can only imagine a fantastic experience….

BC: Wes is a meticulous captain. He is so singular and so prepared that he can’t help but get exactly what he envisions. I’m a method actor so preparation is my middle name. Wes and I did go toe to toe on my character’s wardrobe. I thought my costumes looked like diarrhea, my own research into bond company personnel informed me that they were always a well dressed, smart and together bunch of people, but Wes was adamant on a more dweebified look. When I saw the film I was blown away by how right he was. Wes has his own, very unique genius and he just gets better and finer. I just loved Moonrise Kingdom.

You reportedly turned down the role as Billy Bibbit in Milos Forman’s adaptation of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest out of fear of typecast. Now almost 40 years later, do you believe you made the right choice?

BC: Hell no. But when I was offered it a different actor than Jack Nicholson was supposedly doing the film. Later on, after I’d turned it down, I found out Jack was now playing McMurphy. I flew to the phone to called Milos (Forman, the director) and Michael Douglas (the producer). But it was too late. Billy Bibbit had been cast with Brad Dourif who was great.

You played John Doe Jersey, a.ka. God, in Kevin Smith’s Dogma. How do you even begin to prepare to play the role of Earth’s curator and guardian?

BC: I looked in the mirror a lot. (kidding) I am a good Catholic boy, you know.

It would be naive and rightfully inconsiderate to ignore the fact that most of the people reading this interview probably know you best as Harold from the 1971 classic comedy Harold and Maude. The film was not an initial success, but grew to classic status. Why do you think this is? Is it a “story ahead of its time” sort of scenario?

BC: As I was reading the script I immediately knew it was going to be a classic film for the ages. There was no denying it. The studio was stumped on how to publicize it. The art for newspapers and theater posters was plain black, block lettering on an empty background it was more appropriate for The Ten Commandments! Truthfully, it’s success came from the people. The ground swell of word of mouth dropkicked it over so many goalposts both here and abroad- that Paramount had to re-release it.

In a perfect world, the 1991 film Ted and Venus which you wrote, directed, and starred in would receive its own following as well. Were there any personal inspirations behind creating this film, which I have heard was based on true events? And are we ever going to see an American DVD release?

BC: There is a bootleg DVD that people have tracked down online. I personally would love to have it properly re-released to DVD by the studio. I also would love to have another quick pass in editing. I shot stuff that would be wild for today’s audiences but back in 1991 the studio was, hmmm… shall we say a little reticent? Nevertheless, I got about 99 percent of what I was going for, but for me that missing one percent still drives me nuts. That also includes the title, which they made me change from Love In Venice (which I thought was a beautiful and apt take on Death In Venice) to Ted and Venus which came out of what I was told was “market research”. I found out the distributor had made three phone calls to New York and asked “what would you rather hear Bud Cort’s new film called? Love In Venice or Ted and Venus (which was obviously a play on Harold and Maude). They went with the cheesier title.

So many people have told me the film was way ahead of its time. Others have remarked that they’d seen the film and they had obviously missed it when it came out in the 70’s. That was my biggest complement because I obsessed over the look of the film, which took place in the 70’s but actually was made in the 90’s. It was based on an LA Weekly cover story that did actually happen. For some reason I was not allowed to print that at the beginning of the film. I really am proud of the film. Peter Bogdanovich told me it was the best first film directed by an actor he’d seen since John Cassavetes. Gena Rowlands was in it by the way what a superb actress and babe.

It would also behoove me to mention a film you did prior to Harold and Maude, known as Gasss! by the infamous cult filmmaker Roger Corman. I know it’s been quite a while, but was it a unique scenario working with the king of crazy, Mr. Corman?

BC: It was definitely an experience. Certain costumes on supposedly dead heroes like Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and JFK, instead of being realistic were turned into Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade caricatures. I personally was offended and didn’t want to shoot with them. But I’ve seen Roger many times over the years and he is one of the most personable gentlemen in the business.

Aside from a varied and lengthy acting career, you started out as an artist, primarily a portrait painter. Is there anywhere across the land a common observer can see or purchase work from you?
You’d have to haunt Rye, New York where I grew up, because I did so many portraits of Rye residents and their children and their dogs that I was usually walking around bleary eyed. I finally gave it up because I wanted to act full time, which I’d actually been doing since nursery school anyway. With time I realized that every part I played could actually be its own portrait.

BC: Thanks for the “legendary”! In February of this year I had a full knee replacement (They found I had no cartilage I’m sure from all the theater pratfalls and physical hi-jinx in films over the years). I’ve still got six more months of out-patient physical therapy to go – and then my surgeon tells me I should be back to 100 percent. I have some projects lined up and fortunately the creative team are able to wait for me.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

BC: Rickie Lee Jones’s new album The Devil You Know. It’s cray cray good.


18 of Bud Cort’s 77 roles

Robert Altman MASH (1970)
‘It was while in a comedy review called “Free Fall”, at Upstairs at the Downstairs in 1969, that Cort was “discovered” by director Robert Altman. Later Robert Altman cast Bud Cort in M.A.S.H. (1970)’. MASH is a 1970 American satirical black comedy film written by Ring Lardner, Jr., based on Richard Hooker’s novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. It is the only feature film in the M*A*S*H franchise and became one of the biggest films of the early 1970s for 20th Century Fox. The film depicts a unit of medical personnel stationed at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War; the subtext is about the Vietnam War. The film went on to receive five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. The film’s only win was for Best Adapted Screenplay.’ — collaged



Stuart Hagmann The Strawberry Statement (1970)
‘The film details the life of one student, loosely based on the Columbia University protests of 1968 and the non-fiction book of the same name by James Simon Kunen. The film does not take place in New York City, at Columbia University, but in Stockton, California, at a fictional university – which is based on San Francisco State College (later San Francisco State University). The original book’s author, James Simon Kunen, has a cameo appearance in the film. Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air” and numerous other rock songs are used on the soundtrack. The film won the Jury Prize at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival, tying with Magasiskola.’ — collaged



Roger Corman Gas-s-s-s! or It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It. (1970)
‘This was Roger Corman’s last film as a director for American International Pictures, and his penultimate film as a director, period, for nearly twenty years. It can also be seen as a unification of two threads from earlier in Corman’s career, the scatterbrained comedies of the early 60’s (think The Little Shop of Horrors or Creature from the Haunted Sea) and the counterculture movies (most notably The Wild Angels and The Trip) which he had made over the preceding two years. Gas-s-s-s shares the latter films’ social and political perspective, but marries it to the campy chaos of the former to produce what Corman seems to have considered a cutting-edge satire on the impending death-throes of a doomed species. Unfortunately, what the combination really produces is an almost totally plotless succession of sophomoric absurdities, weighed down by a woefully misplaced faith in its own depth and relevance. The gas of the title is a chemical weapon developed for the US Army at a top-secret research station in the wilds of Alaska. As we are told in a pre-credits cartoon in exactly the same style as that which opens Creature from the Haunted Sea, the deadly vapor leaks out of its containment tanks, and quickly spreads to envelop the entire world. The effects of the gas are counterintuitive to say the least; it accelerates the aging of anybody over 25, resulting in their almost immediate demise from premature decrepitude. What possible war-fighting value the Pentagon could have seen in a chemical to which practically everybody on any given battlefield would be naturally immune (after all, the average age of a foot-soldier in Vietnam was nineteen) is anyone’s guess. But this is one of those movies that punish the application of logic and reason with both terrible severity and perfect consistency, so don’t waste your energy trying to make sense out of anything, okay?’ — 1000 Misspent Hours



Jack Smight The Traveling Executioner (1970)
The Traveling Executioner is a definite counter-culture film concept, despite taking place in 1918. Slightly freakish ex- conman and convict Jonas Candide (Stacy Keach) wears long hair, a top hat and dark coat as he presides over Mississippi executions with his portable electric chair, a throne-like contraption wired to a powerful generator. At a hundred dollars a sizzle, Jonas travels the state making fast money. He takes pride in his work and soothes his ‘customers’ with gentle talk about their next destination, “the fields of ambrosia”. Jonas’ specialized skills are admired by prison warden Brodsky (M. Emmet Walsh, 14 years before the Coens’ Blood simple), prison Doc Prittle (Graham Jarvis) and local undertaker Jimmy Croft (Bud Cort). This R-rated curiosity of the early post- Production Code era dropped like a stone at the box office and for the most part disappeared for forty years, with the exception of a few TV airings and perhaps a VHS release (not verified).’ — DVD Talk



Robert Altman Brewster McCloud (1970)
Brewster McCloud concerns a young man who wants to build wings and fly (Bud Cort), a steely-eyed detective (Michael Murphy) and a tall blond who may or may not be the mysterious strangulation killer (Sally Kellerman, whom you may remember as Hot Lips in M*A*S*H). There’s also a Texas billionaire, a kooky bird lecturer, and more raven guano than you can shake a stick at. If you don’t know what guano is, don’t worry; the movie makes it abundantly clear, in word and in deed. There’s even an expert scatologist to explain. Anyway, the young man hides in the Houston Astrodome and works on his wings. The detective investigates the murders. The girl appears mysteriously whenever she’s needed to help the young man. And beyond that, there’s nothing I can tell you about the plot that would be of the slightest help. Altman’s style is centrifugal, whirling off political allusions, jokes, double takes and anything else that flies loose from the narrative center.’ — Roger Ebert




Hal Ashby Harold and Maude (1971)
‘”I walked into this room and Hal [Ashby] was the first person I saw,” he remembers. “Hal made me feel so warm and welcome. He said, ‘This is Colin Higgins who wrote the script, this is Chuck Mulvehill who’s producing it,’ and I just looked at all three of them and said, ‘I’m playing this part.’ And Hal laughed and said, ‘I guess you are!'” Cort was equally confident on set, leading to spontaneous moments such as the creepy shot in which he breaks the fourth wall and grins at us. He threw himself into Harold’s numerous staged suicides, telling Ashby he wanted him to believe that he might go through with it. For the hanging scene, he says, “I was so into it that I believed I was hanging myself to death.” His method techniques sometimes clashed with the more classically-trained cast. During a scene in which his screen mother, played by Vivian Pickles, tells him he’s going to be joining the army, he slowly raised his middle finger, sucked on it, then held it up at her throughout her monologue. “She finished and ran off the set. Then Hal said, ‘Oh my god, Bud you can’t do that! It was great, but she’s pretty down, you have to apologise to her!'” Ashby later got Cort to give the finger in another scene. Cort and Ashby grew close over the production. After filming, says Cort, Paramount took control of the edit from Ashby, so Cort went to a publicity meeting with the studio and told them he’d refuse to promote the film unless they gave control back to a devastated Ashby, which they did (other than a kissing scene which Paramount boss Robert Evans hated). Cort, though, then found himself persona non grata with the studio.’ — The Guardian




Lucio Marcaccini Hallucination Strip (1975)
‘In 1975, Bud Cort, high from his recent success as Harold in Harold & Maude, decided to don a rough goatee and follow a trail of money that ended at a psychedelic passion project from a no-name director. In some ways, Hallucination Strip could remind one of the recent Under the Skin insomuch that Cort’s baby-face and mustachio combo along with his heavy Italian ADR give him the image of a well-blended alien amongst the Roman hippies. Alas, Cort scurries along with them in a battered tale of sex, drugs, and petty theft — sadly human after all. With Kino’s Raro Video division release of Hallucination Strip on Blu-ray, audiences today can experience Eurocrime cinema with Hollywood star flair ending in predictably disastrous results. Cort’s performance switches between stagnant and unusually sweaty, perhaps as a result of conflating his call-to-fame role and the new position of leading a hippie crime thriller.’ — Sound on Sight




Rod Amateau Son of Hitler (1978)
‘With black comedies like HAROLD & MAUDE and BREWSTER McCLOUD to his credit, 30-year-old Bud Cort must’ve seemed like the perfect candidate for a Nazi-themed laff-fest. Nevertheless, this German-made farce about der Fuhrer’s secret offspring was barely released. That’s because it’s one of those rare, unfathomably wrongheaded projects that makes you wonder “what the hell were they thinking?” The cinematic equivalent of a 20-car pile-up, any vaguely interesting notion is quickly crushed in favor of an unsuccessful cheap laugh. 30-year-old orphan Willi (Cort) has lived in the mountains for his entire life, secluded from civilization and education, but when his beloved Uncle Fritz passes away, he finally uncovers info about his dad. His birth father was none other than Adolph Hitler, but uneducated Willi doesn’t recognize the infamous name or know anything about World War II. Cort isn’t too bad as this sweet and wimpy oddball, who’s suddenly thrust into potential greatness– while making Chauncey Gardiner look quick-witted in comparison. Cushing (hot off of his STAR WARS gig) plays it relatively straight, plus Anton Diffring turns up as Veleska’s dad and burly Leo Gordon is Haussner’s assistant. It’s definitely painful, but worth a look just to see poor Bud Cort shuffling about with a classic Hitler haircut, looking understandably uncomfortable with this gig.’ — Shock Cinema Magazine




Jeff Werner Die Laughing (1980)
‘”Oddly enough, I had a job waiting for me when I got out of the hospital. It was a role in Die Laughing that I had been scheduled to do before the accident. Jon Peters, the producer, called me in the hospital. My leg was up in the air, my arm was in a cast and my face was torn up. All I did was concentrate on breathing. I was sure he was going to have to fire me, but to my amazement he said, ‘Well, you’re playing the villain anyway. I’ll put back the start date. It’ll be perfect. Think about how good it will be for the character.'” — Bud Cort



Andrei Konchalovsky Maria’s Lovers (1984)
‘Imagine that you’re watching Maria’s Lovers with subtitles, for it approaches its grand passions with a woozy, rapturous seriousness associated with foreign films. Yet it is an impeccable piece of vintage Americana, right down to the slang, for all the Russian soul of its distinguished director, Andrei Konchalovsky. The juxtaposition takes some getting used to–but it is also what makes the film finally seem so special and rewarding. Indeed, Konchalovsky has succeeded where Eisenstein failed, becoming the first Russian citizen, as opposed to emigre, to direct a Hollywood production. Cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchia’s lighting brings to Maria’s Lovers a naturalistic, as opposed to realistic, glow that is reminiscent not just of Konchalovsky’s own epic “Siberiade” but of the films of his director-brother Nikita Mikhalkov and of Andrei Tarkovsky. (Konchalovsky has worked as a writer for both.)’ — The LA Times



Danford B. Greene The Secret Diary of Sigmund Freud (1984)
‘Supposedly focusing on the life of Sigmund Freud by means of a fictional secret diary, this attempt at satirizing the man from his childhood through his first forays into psychoanalysis is weak on laughter, especially since it is difficult to tell whether a scene is serious or not. Freud (Bud Cort) is portrayed as being too nauseated by blood and physical anatomy to make it through medical school, and because he misunderstands what practicing medicine is all about, he accidentally starts psychoanalyzing his patients. His Ultimate Patient (Dick Shawn) provides him with the theories that would make him famous. Presented as a series of nearly disconnected vignettes, this story about the relationships between Freud and a nurse (Carol Kane), and his mother (Caroll Baker) and a doctor, are meant to be funny, but are not quite.’ — Eleanor Mannikka, Rovi




Tobe Hooper Invaders from Mars (1986)
‘Famed genre director Tobe Hooper is known for several classics, including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist, and Salem’s Lot, as well as lesser-known cult favorites like The Funhouse. One film of his that has gone mostly under the radar is his 1986 film Invaders From Mars, which is a remake of the highly rated 1953 film of the same name. This marks my first time seeing the film, and I can say that I enjoyed it. In the 1980s John Carpenter struck gold remaking a 50s film (The Thing), and while Hooper’s redo failed to receive the same notoriety it still gave me what I wanted to see from one of the genre’s most notable directors. With his town under siege by alien invaders who have taken over the minds of his parents and others in authority over him, a young boy enlists the help of a school nurse and the U.S. Marines to send the enemy back where they came from.’ — John of the Dead

the entire film


Adam Simon Brain Dead (1990)
‘Brain Dead – which should not be confused with Peter Jackson’s zombie splatter comedy Braindead (1992) or the subsequent Brain Dead (2007) – is one of the better dream/reality intrusion films that came out in the late 1980s, attempting to copy the success of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Brain Dead was produced by legendary B-movie producer/director Roger Corman. The director was Adam Simon, who went to direct Carnosaur (1993), also for Roger Corman, and The American Nightmare (2000), a fine documentary about the modern horror film, as well as write the scripts for Bones (2001) and The Haunting in Connecticut (2009). In fact, Brain Dead is one of the best of all A Nightmare on Elm Street clones. Most Elm Street copies, indeed most of the Elm Street sequels themselves, flip back and forward between reality and dream illusion with such regularity that the dividing line becomes like wet paper and in so doing diminish any real effect. So does Brain Dead but the reality flips are nested in a script filled with startling and clever reversals. Bill Pullman cures Bud Cort’s paranoid hallucinations but then with disturbing regard starts to see them himself. The film keeps putting the screws on the situation until Bill Pullman is in a psychiatric institution having become Bud Cort’s wife-killing paranoiac and being told that his identity as a neurosurgeon is an hallucination.’ — Moria



Bud Cort Ted & Venus (1991)
‘HAROLD AND MAUDE was initially trashed by critics and ignored by audiences before it went on to become the beloved cult classic that it is today, so why not give a second (or first) look at Bud Cort’s directorial debut, TED AND VENUS? Upon its 1991 direct-to-video release, it was dismissed by critics who uniformly compared the film unfavorably with HAROLD AND MAUDE. The irony is that these critics would have probably been the same ones disparaging that film if they had been around then. It’s fitting that many of the negative comments made by critics about HAROLD AND MAUDE upon its initial release mirror those made about TED AND VENUS — unsympathetic protagonist, lack of character motivation, too weird, too self-consciously quirky, etc. Or, to quote the Variety review, “HAROLD AND MAUDE has all the fun and gaiety of a burning orphanage.” And the resemblances between HAROLD AND MAUDE and TED AND VENUS, besides the obvious reference in the title’s male first name and female first name pairing, are not merely superficial. There’s a good reason why Cort dedicated TED AND VENUS to Ruth Gordon, Hal Ashby, and Colin Higgins — respectively, the co-star, director, and screenwriter of the film that was both a blessing and a curse for Cort. What makes TED AND VENUS interesting is exactly what critics of the film objected to: how it sets up expectations only to completely obliterate them.’ — The prone gunman’s Weblog



Kevin Smith Dogma (1999)
‘”Dana Shapiro: You’ve had some interesting parts recently. You played God in Dogma, a movie that inspired a lot of protests from outraged Catholics. But you actually go to church every Sunday. Were people mad at you for making that movie?” Bud Cort: “In my own little church in my neighborhood, they were badmouthing it, but they didn’t know I was in it. And I keep a real low profile in the church.”‘ — NY Times



Wim Wenders The Million Dollar Hotel (2000)
‘If you’re looking for a defining Wenders image, try starting with the gloomy angels in overcoats in Wings Of Desire. The Million Dollar Hotel plays like a sop thrown down by a genius who imagines his every pensée is both precious and engagingly satirical. I can’t think of very much to say about this film. The cast list reads like a who’s-who of irritating actors: Amanda Plummer, Julian Sands, Bud Cort, etc. Mel Gibson looks very uncomfortable as a G-man investigating a suspicious death, and not just because he’s wearing a neck brace and is supposed to have had spinal surgery. Jeremy Davies plays twitchy and annoying very well, but who wants to watch that? Wim Wenders creates some magical visuals but the central murder-mystery, which ought to drive the film, is completely underwhelming.’ — collaged



Ed Harris Pollock (2000)
‘As adapted from Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith’s book by Barbara Turner and Susan Emshwiller, Jackson Pollock is portrayed as a simple man, an unknown artist and alcoholic leaching off his family in New York City until fellow painter and future wife Lee Krasner (Marcia Gay Harden, Space Cowboys) took on the burden of selfless caretaker and nurturer. Krasner put her own career on hold to promote Pollock’s because she believed in his genius. She had the connections he did not and was able to first get the attention of Howard Putzel (Bud Cort, in an endearing performance) who led to the all important sponsorship of Peggy Guggenheim (Harris’ wife Amy Madigan, almost unrecognizable). Krasner also got Pollock away from the bottle and the city, moving out to an old Long Island farmhouse where Pollock stumbled upon the splatter technique which would become his defining style.’ — Reeling Reviews



Wes Anderson The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)
‘”I did train extensively for the role, because Bill (Murray) said I would be in the water doing a lot of swimming. I swam every day. I would get up at 4 a.m. and got in excellent, excellent shape. During the film I dieted and lost 50 pounds for a sequence but they kept pushing back this kidnapping scene. When I finally left Rome at the end I was a toothpick. I was to speak the lines in Indonesian, and I had mastered that when Wes called and said “We can’t find any Indonesian actors here (in Italy). Could you learn the part in Filipino?” The languages could not be any more different. Wes said “Look, you just write (the lines).” So I had something like five pages of dialog. It was very political, concerning the state of the ocean, the destruction of the coral reefs, etc. Wes said he loved it but the Producer asked me to take out the political stuff. Still, you don’t see many fish in the film, which I think is pretty honest. One of the divers we worked with said the area (Anzio) used to be full of fish, and now there’s just nothing out there.”‘ — Bud Cort





p.s. Hey. ** Ferdinand, Hi, man. That’s a very beautiful poem you wrote and posted. Big kudos from me. Everyone, the fine writer and d.l. Ferdinand has posted a quite beautiful new poem he wrote, and clicking your way into its readable presence is very recommended. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Well, Guibert writes about the ‘straight-acting/straight-seeming’ thing numerous times in the book, so … I mentioned Genet to mean a literary style influence, although I didn’t make that at all clear. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Oh, I need to get and read that Keenan novel. I’ve been meaning to. I’ll try to order it today. It sounds super interesting from what you said. I’m very intrigued to see what he does with fiction. Thanks, man. ** B, Hi, Bear. Really nice to see you, sir. Thank you for the congrats. Very much appreciated. Yes, even though time and location and budget issues caused us to visualize a lot of the scenes differently than we had imagined when we wrote the script, I can say that we definitely accomplished what we had hoped and even more than we’d hoped maybe. Yes, editing next. Basically, we’ll be working on the editing and sound and color grading and all that stuff pretty much straight through the summer with only short breaks. We plan to have the film finished and ready to start submitting it to festivals by the end of September. I hope everything is more than excellent with you. How is stuff? Love, me. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi, Dóra! Hooray, a work by you is already visible! Oh, it looks great! I can’t wait to read it within moments of finishing this p.s. Everyone, Dóra Grőber has a new short fiction piece just now published on the lit site Shirley Magazine, and this is a so far rare, rare and exciting opportunity for us. Her piece is called ‘Mother Nature’, and you can read it here, and I can’t recommend highly enough that you click the word and do just that. So wonderful! Yes, I guess I thought May Day in France would be sort of like its equivalent Labor Day in the US where 70% of things stay open, but shut-down Paris made for a nice, brief ghost town. Getting back into my normal routine is weird. I feel a little dazed, but the old habits are starting to take over. Oh, yes, when is SCAB happening? Don’t forget I’d love to a post to christen it, if you like. My day was beset with the aforementioned daze, so it was a day of thinking I should do certain things and then realizing it was hours later and I hadn’t. Uh, I had a good, long talk with a friend in LA. Some emails. Some blog post construction. Zac and I want to make a documentary film next, probably about the Japanese fog sculptor Fujiko Nakaya as we already started working on that project a few years ago and put it aside to do ‘LCTG’ and ‘PGL’, and our producer is into us doing that project, and Zac and I had an initial talk about how to construct a proposal for it to use to apply for funding, and we want to start writing the proposal this week. I think that was my day pretty much. What did Wednesday put in front of you? ** Sypha, Hi, James. Thank you. You’re reading ‘Tropic of Capricorn’, huh. How is that hitting you? Generally with Henry Miller I get excited by the first, oh, 20-25 pages of his novels and then I start getting tired of his prose for some reason. Man, you’re on an impressive reading spree there. I want to read the new Leonora Carrington reprint too. Cool, thanks, J. ** Rewritedept, Well, well, well, hi there, Chris! Awfully nice to get to see you. What kind of literary friends would pooh-pooh you for reading ‘IJ’? That’s nuts. Thanks about ‘French Hole’s’ helpfulness. You did mention you have a cooking job. I like that idea/image. I’ll try the new AW album, okay. I haven’t seen the Wes Anderson poster but of course I’m extremely psyched for his new film. You debated with AC Newman about ‘ZA’ vs. ‘FYW’?! That’s surreal. I’m assuming ACN was on ‘FYW’s’ side. I’d love that guest post, obviously, if it comes about. I would say, just technically and time-wise, Badfinger is proto-Power Pop. I haven’t listened to them ages, but I used to be quite into them, especially, and maybe strangely, their later, post-success LPs, especially ‘Wish You Were Here’. Take care, buddy. ** H, Hi. Oh, gosh, that would be quite a big honor. Thank you for wanting to. ** James Nulick, Ah, the man just in charge. Thank you again, my friend. I think our producer and his company will basically support Zac’s and my decisions on the final edit, and maybe we have final cut in the contract, I can’t remember, but of course I won’t know until we actually do the edit. I always fear and dread someone try to normalize the work that I (and Zac, in this case) do whether that fear is warranted or not. No, editing-wise, first Zac and I have three weeks to edit the film into as close to exactly how we want it to be as we can. Then we work for two weeks with a professional editor who will ostensibly help us get what we want technically. Then there’ll be a week break wherein the film will be shown to some confidants to get outside opinions. Then we’ll have a week to make any changes we want to make. Then we move into weeks of color grading and sound editing and putting in the effects and stuff. Anyway, Zac and I will edit the film. We’ll surely show it to Michael and get his thoughts along the way, but he’s not involved in the editing of the film. No CGI, ha ha. No budget for that. We do have to put in some effects in a couple of scenes, the explosion for example, but I’m not sure how we’ll do that yet. Thanks again, pal. ** Steevee, Obviously best of luck with the cutting down and adjusting. Is that not nice of your doctor about the free samples, or is that kind of standard practice in such circumstances? ** Misanthrope, Hi, G. If we do a ‘PGL’ blooper reel, and we won’t, ha ha, you’ll see the ‘hilarious’ piñata scene in all of its Buster Keaton-esque glory. Well, said essay writer should probably throw in the NiN song and the play called ‘Closer’ too maybe. Or maybe that’s a ‘took many cooks’ idea. I think about stuff like that too when I get stuck in subway traffic. ** Bill, Hi! Thank you for the warm welcome back and the same goes to you! I saw that Lynch doc. I’m not a fan of his artworks for some reason, except for some of his animations, so that part wasn’t so interesting to me, but he said some informative stuff along the way, and the trajectory from visual artist to filmmaker thing was definitely interesting. Not bad. ** Okay. While I get the blog up to speed the newness front, you’ll get a couple of restorations this week, including Bud Cort Day, which I hope you will (re)enjoy. See you tomorrow.


  1. steevee

    No, it’s very nice of my doctor to give me free samples. I was just in a pissy mood when I wrote that because I spent an hour on the phone with my insurance company and the manufacturer of the medication fruitlessly trying to get them for pay for a prescription. And I managed to get through the night without having to get up to urinate, something that led to my insomnia in the first place, which is a big deal. I’m still frustrated by some of the side effects, but as a friend advised, I should take things day by day and not expect to feel great overnight when I was in a manic state and engaging in some bizarre behavior a week ago; compared to that, I am doing wonderful. It hasn’t helped that my reviewing duties have all involved watching films on DVD and kept me inside during beautiful weather; after I write my review today, I will definitely take a walk around the city.

    My Village Voice should be out today as well.

  2. David Ehrenstein

    “Straight-acting / Straight-Appearing” annoys the hell out of me. I want my men to be as gay as Bud Cort!

    So glad he’s still with us. My fave remains “Brewster McCloud” which was screen played by Doran William Cannon — whose other major credit is the ineffable “Skidoo”

  3. Sypha

    Regarding Henry Miller, you could say that he’s one of those writers that I feel somewhat ambivalent about, which might explain why I haven’t read all that much of his work. Only a fool would claim that he had no genuine literary talent, and every so often he manages to write a sentence that really grabs my attention and takes my breath away. And yet… I recall when I read “Tropic of Cancer” a few years ago I commented on your old blog something along the lines of how I felt that Miller would have made a much better aphorist than a novelist, and that a little of his work went along way. I only have about 20 pages to go in “Tropic of Capricorn” and my opinion on this matter hasn’t changed all that much. I think it’s probably best to read him in small doses, maybe.

  4. New Juche

    Hey Dennis

    How do you find editing – is it, relative to shooting, a chore? Or the opposite, given that you have the raw material already in the bag? Either way, 5 weeks sounds like not a long time.

    Yep, my second book Bosun is done, and I’m looking for a hopefully Scottish/British publisher, because it’s a very British book. Haven’t really started looking yet. And I have two more books on the go with 9BB in mind, though they are still in early stages. I also want to do another visual PDF thing I think. Other than that, I have heaps of day-job work to do here, so not idle.

    Happy Editing! To you and Zac.


  5. Bill

    Totally re-enjoying this one, Dennis. By this time in my life, I am occasionally sent disaffected youth for advice; of course I drag them to see Harold and Maude.


  6. David Ehrenstein

    Laura Poitras is a TOOL. She carries water (however “unknowingly”) for Assange and the equally egregious Glenn Greenwald.

  7. Dóra Grőber


    Thank you so much! Both for your words and for advertising ‘Mother Nature’!!
    The picture of a ‘ghost town Paris’ is far more favorable to the noisy and all in all just very dumb fest I had to face here, haha. I guess it’s no wonder you’re still in some kind of a daze. I imagine it takes some time to “come down” from the experiences of the past two weeks.
    Wow, this sounds so exciting about the documentary! I’m not deeply familiar with Fujiko Nakaya’s work but I’ve seen a few pictures about her fog sculptures and her work always gives me this scary yet gripping ‘misplaced nature’ feeling. I hope you’ll pursue this idea! It’d be awesome!

    My day was good. I met a friend briefly and I worked on my book, mostly. Oh, and yes, SCAB! Thank you so much once again for your offer! It means so much to me, truly! I’m not sure which would be the better idea: to kind of ‘advertise’ SCAB a little through the post now, so that whoever would like to contribute to the first issue can find it easier or… to wait with the christening ’til the first issue comes out (preferably in September) because, by that time, I’ll actually have something valuable to share. I’m thinking maybe the second one would be more logical? What do you think?

    How was today on your end? I hope you had a nice day!!

  8. chris dankland

    I love Brewster McCloud so much, this makes me want to watch it again — I originally got interested in it b/c it’s one of the few Houston movies, but that whole movie is so great, it’s one of my favorite altman movies

    in college 3 girls i dated said that Harold and Maude was their favorite movie, i spent a lot of time sitting on beds while we watched it together. maybe a year or two ago i had an argument with one of them, partly about that movie — she was saying that Manhattan is an awful movie and Woody Allen is a fucked up manipulative human being, but i don’t really get that line of thinking when Harold and Maude is one of your favorite movies.

    anyway i’m rambling…i’m happy to hear that the movie turned out well !! my apologies if u’ve already answered this, but when do u think people like me might get a chance to see it?

    thanks for letting me do the guest blog post !!

    take care, hope u have a good morning

  9. Jeff J

    Hey Dennis,
    Nice to see this Bud Cort post again. Really enjoyed the interview with him at the end.

    Speaking of posts, I ran across the photos I had sent you ages ago for that Cortazar post you’d tried to re-up. Do you want me to send them your way? Do you have everything else you need for that post? No pressure to re-up it anytime soon, but thought I’d mention this while I remembered.

    I finished the new Guibert book shortly after I asked you about it here. I agree completely with your take. I’ll add that it made me sad how little he seemed to care about Vincent’s personality, emotions, interests, etc and kept reducing him to his body. It was also increasingly apparent, through his own accounts, that Vincent often wasn’t into his advances but that rarely deterred him, even from occasionally physically dominating him. Hopefully some better work of his will be translated soon.

    Did you get the extra break before editing begins? Was that so that your eyes would be fresher? Or you and Zac have other work you want to finish before that process kicks in?

  10. steevee

    There’s a woman I met last week, who’s a friend of a friend and now she’s acting like my new best friend. I get really bad vibes from her. I wanted to answer two of her questions to me on Facebook chat this morning and then stop talking with her. Somehow I got dragged into a long conversation with her, during which she invited me to her birthday party Saturday night – I genuinely have other obligations, as I need to see the program of shorts programmed by a friend at the New York African Film Festival that night, or that friend will be very mad at me – and offered to give me some Indian herbs. I sense that she really wants to be friends with me, but there’s a vibe of desperation and pushiness there that really makes me want to hold back. I don’t know how long I can keep communicating with her on-line without making this overt. I’m wondering if I’m being sexist and racist, because she’s a Pakistani-American woman, but I don’t feel this way, for instance, about a friend who’s an African-American woman. I think the difference is that she and I got to know each other by working side by side over the course of several months, while this woman basically lectured me about yoga and Indian medicine for 90 minutes in a period where I was pretty much in a manic state and barely capable of thinking clearly or holding down my side of the conversation and now acts like she’s my new best friend. I don’t think I’m remiss in finding this creepy. I think she means well, but she’s not coming off very well to me. Any suggestions on how I can manage this situation? I don’t want to be overtly hostile and come out and say “I don’t want you in my life,” but essentially that’s how I feel.

  11. _Black_Acrylic

    I was unaware of Bud Cort’s existence until today, so thank you for this intro. I’ll go over the post more thoroughly over the coming days.

    Just back from a mini YNY reunion at the DCA with Gayle and Alexandra. Gayle was guesting as part of a round table discussion for LUX Scotland about local video art, and I always come away super energised after our chats. Someone else on the panel was bigging up David Keenan’s This Is Memorial Device, so that’s evidently the hot thing on the Scottish art scene right now.

  12. Misanthrope

    Dennis, I remember this. Harold and Maude is still a movie I need to see. I know Nicholas loves it. My friend Cindy said it was “okay, not that good.” But she says that about everything.

    They say all business is done on the golf course. Well, all my weird shit gets done in my head while stuck in traffic.

    Have you seen anything about BoogerGate? Seems -and it really looks like it- the Commissioner of the NFL wiped a booger on the back of a one-legged girl during the NFL Draft this past weekend. I don’t know, it just cracks me up.

    If you’re curious, here’s a link to the video on some sports twitter or other. It’s about 5 seconds long.

  13. debra71

    You have some wonderful photo stills and videos of Mr. Cort! This is such a great page. He kind of mesmerizes me at the moment. Don’t know how long it will last, but Electric Dreams brought me here. Yes, I know it was just his voice. I grew up in the 1980s. However, now I am even a bigger fan. I made a Youtube Page or channel just recently called: Bud Cort Appreciation.
    I hope Mr. Bud Cort does more work. Wish I could meet him, but I live in Ohio. I hope he is well, and I just find him to be a very unique actor. Well, I’m under his spell. It’s his eyes you see. 🙂 Take care. ~debra

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