Pic of the Day: “Convicts 4” revisited

In honor of today being the 84th birthday anniversary of the late great Ben Gazzara, today’s pic is another from Convicts 4 (1962), directed by Millard Kaufman. John Resko ponders his predicament after unexpectedly meeting up with his childhood friend Nick in the prison yard at Dannemora.

Convicts 4

Tim and Gazzara would meet again in John CassavetesThe Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976). Unfortunately Tim only garners a passing mention in Gazzara’s autobiography, In the Moment: My Life as an Actor (2004). I was hoping for some great stories! Gazzara’s presence on the silver screen is highly treasured and greatly missed.

Pic of the Day: “Convicts 4” revisited

After stuffing ourselves yesterday, we deserve a rest. And where better to put up our feet than in the clink? We close the holiday week with another look at Convicts 4 (1962), Millard Kaufman‘s prison biography of artist John Resko (Ben Gazzara). Unbeknownst to Resko and his old pal Nick, they’re about to have an unfortunate encounter with Iggy (Ray Walston, with his back to the camera), not one of Resko’s favorite people.

Convicts 4

Award-winning Walston was one of the most beloved character actors around, working steadily from the 1950s up until his death in 2001. I’m sure we all know him best from his role in the comedy series My Favorite Martian (1963-66). He, however, wished that we didn’t. “I never should have done My Favorite Martian,” he told USA TODAY in 1995. “I didn’t work in TV or film for three years after. Everyone thought of me as a Martian. Do you know what it’s like to go to Madrid, Spain, on vacation and have a guy yell out, ‘Hey, Martin!’ and put antennas behind his head? When that happens, you know your career is dead.”

Quote of the Week

Sure, this is a true story, but writer/director Millard Kaufman (who penned BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK) turns it into B-movie pabulum, right down to a groan-inducing finale. The actors try hard, but it’s a lifeless gig. In fact, the only humor comes from the always-reliable Timothy Carey in an all-too-brief role as inmate Nick Pukalski – talking through clenched teeth and with his eyeballs spinning, he steals every scene as a pal from Resko’s old neighborhood. Location scenes were filed at Folsom Prison, but that’s the closest this ever gets to hard-hitting realism.

– Steve Puchalski, review of Convicts 4 (1962), Shock Cinema magazine #19 (Fall/Winter 2001)

Convicts 4

Video of the Week: “Convicts 4”

Today, the eighty-third birthday anniversary of the amazing Ben Gazzara, we present again a clip from the prison biopic Convicts 4 (1962), directed by Millard Kaufman. It features Timothy’s first appearance in the film, and it is certainly memorable.

As we all know, Tim and Gazzara appeared together again fourteen years later in John CassavetesThe Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976). I think they made a great pair.

Pic of the Day: “Convicts 4” revisited

It’s time to revisit Convicts 4 (1962), aka Reprieve, directed by Millard Kaufman. Genial convict Nick welcomes his old pal John Resko (Ben Gazzara) to The Hill.

Convicts 4

Timothy’s teeth-clenching pseudo-Kirk Douglas delivery really gets a workout here. Keep your eyes open also for a fleeting appearance by the supremely creepy Reggie Nalder. As we all know, Tim and Gazzara met up again in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976).

Pic of the Day: “Convicts 4” revisited

Our pic of the day is another promotional still from Convicts 4 (1962) (aka Reprieve), the prison drama written and directed by Millard Kaufman. The big cake-eating scene is about to begin.

The notation on the back is worth quoting:

27. PRISON PARTY—Roland LaStarza, Tom Gilson, Ben Gazzara, and Timothy Carey on Dannemora Prison’s “hill of courts” in this scene of Allied Artists’ “Reprieve.” Gazzara plays John Resko, famed “prison Rembrandt.”

Notable trivia: Kaufman was the co-creator of Mr. Magoo! LaStarza was a professional heavyweight boxer for many years. He gave Rocky Marciano quite a run for his money in 1953 (I always thought Tim should have played a boxer at some point). This was Gilson’s last feature film; he was shot in self-defense by his estranged wife, model and actress Saundra Edwards, during a domestic dispute.