This seventeen minute film was directed by Clu Gulager in 1969. It was photographed by Lazlo Kovacs and has a look that whispers “danger!” over every pastoral shot. There is no dialogue, only a musical score which grows increasing haunting and menacing. The setting is nostalgically rural yet it’s Laurel Canyon, mere miles from the heart of the Sunset Strip during the Summer of Love. This was just after Gulager finished a 6-year run as Sherriff Ryker on “The Virginian” and right before Kovaks shot “Easy Rider.” Crazy time.
In the film, a group of boys do what boys do – play with toy guns, chase birds, kick stuff, rummage thru garbage, pick up snakes. Towards the end, they convince a man in a suit and hat (a traveling salesman? a neighbor?) to run off into the wilderness with them where they bury him alive. The final shot reveals a graveyard marked by totems of their previous victims.
A fan of “Stand By Me” would find this irresistible. Maybe even the author? Mr. King, I’m looking at you! I’d bet Stanley Kramer was a fan.
It is a stunning film and the only film that Gulager has directed. So far.
You can see some of “A Day with the Boys” here.
(Or you can rent the 2000 film “George Washington”, as I did, and view a near perfect print as part of the special features.)
June 23, 2011
I have watched a half dozen episodes of the western TV show “The Tall Man.” It ran between 1960 and 1962 and starred Barry Sullivan as Pat Garrett and Clu Gulager as Billy the Kid. The conceit is that Pat and Billy are best pals who have weekly adventures in a small western town. It’s got a real American Playhouse feel to it, the same fuzzy B&W look and lots and lots of close-ups.
Most episodes center around Billy not resembling the historical Billy the Kid, but being a neat guy and a swell buddy.
Every couple of episodes the writers come up with an invention to transform him into the Billy we all know, a half-mad killer. In the episode entitled LEGEND OF BILLY, a newspaper man creates the myth of bad Billy to sell papers and Billy almost ends up living up to his new reputation. In THE LAST RESOURCE, a grieving Marshal is out for revenge for his murdered daughter and unfairly decides Billy is the monster responsible. The best example I’ve seen is the plot device in TIME TO KILL — Billy falls off a horse, gets a concussion and a pile of medicine which makes him act like a loco killer.
TIME TO KILL has this great line, “We only have to live with ourselves, Whiskey Man. Billy’s got to run out his clock with that Devil inside him. It’s getting close to twelve.”
And then there’s the Tall Man himself, Barry Sullivan as Pat Garrett.
This is the first I’ve seen of Barry Sullivan. He’s likeable and I respect his acting. I just don’t see him as a leading man. Especially paired with the charismatic Gulager. I mean, here they are together.
If you know anything about history, it’s weird watching this show knowing that one of these good buddies is going to kill the other! It’s too bad they never shot that episode!
Oh, and a very weird P.S.