Although the fourth episode of our new show has dropped a few days ago (you can find the official PR and links to the show here on CLAPPER), I thought I’d take this opportunity to say something more than just a few words carefully designed to tease this podcast and entice you to have a listen. Which you should totally consider by the way!
In any case, when I originally came up with what is now The Uncut Gems Podcast, I didn’t just have a vague idea about what I wanted this show to entail. I knew perfectly well what kinds of movies I wanted to dig into – originally in a one-man-show format which later evolved into a conversational platform that the show is. I wanted to have an opportunity to talk about films which are hiding in plain sight. Granted, this is an extremely difficult endeavour because it’s rather difficult to pinpoint what it actually means. In fact, it is much easier to define which movies do not belong in that category instead. I knew I did not want to talk about classics everybody is aware of. Although it’s always enjoyable to talk about Jaws, The Godfather or Double Indemnity (honestly, three random choices that popped into my head just now), they get quite a lot of attention already from fans all over the world. Some more than others, but such films continue to exist within the wider cultural consciousness.
On the other hand, I didn’t want to embark on a quest to look for completely niche movies, indie festival failures, or homemade exploitation movies that nobody but Nicolas Winding Refn knows about. I am most interested in movies that either used to have an audience and lost it, or had a decent chance at developing one but for some reason were never successful. This way – I thought – I’s be giving myself, my co-hosts and the listeners out there a chance to get to know films which might not be that hard to love. Granted, some films I have jotted down on my list of potential ideas (and this list is now long enough to sustain this effort for multiple years) require a lot of adjustment from the modern viewer to embrace the idea of liking them, but at least in my mind they are an opportunity for an interesting conversation, which in itself should be more than enough to compel someone to watch the film.
And I will be completely honest here: one of the very first titles I ever wrote down as a possible idea was this – John Frankenheimer’s Black Sunday. Released in 1977 at great cost and riding on massive studio expectations, this epic espionage thriller about a terrorist plot at a Super Bowl (filmed partially at a real 1976 Super Bowl as well, which is absolutely wild in its own right), this film was very quickly forgotten. It was a failed blockbuster that could not recreate the type of success that Jaws enjoyed a mere two years earlier and it has since flown under the radar, known more as an oddity than a timeless masterpiece that it is in my opinion. When I first watched it a few years back, Black Sunday instantly became one of the most pleasantly surprising movies I have stumbled upon by complete chance and it boggled my mind it never ever gets a mention among the most influential films of the decade. And I wished I could at least try to give this amazing film a chance to enter a conversation and help its memory stay alive.
Well, I got that chance. We had an absolutely phenomenal time talking about this movie and although not all of us around the table (you know who you are) were completely on board with the idea of praising Black Sunday as a clench-your-cheeks-suspenseful masterclass of action filmmaking from an era long gone by, I would like to say we did John Frankenheimer justice. So tune in and join our conversation where we delved deep into discussing the film’s epic scale, Frankenheimer’s underrated legacy, the film’s place as a subliminal well of inspiration and its stature as one of those films you can describe by simply saying “they don’t make’em like they used to”.