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Byron Orlok is an old horror-movie star who feels that he is an anachronism. Compared to real-life violence, his films are tame. Meanwhile, Bobby Thompson goes on a killing spree...Written by
Gary Couzens <email@example.com>
When Tim O'Kelly (the killer) enters his house, a promotion for Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder can be heard. This is ironic for several reasons. First, this movie is the anatomy of a sniper an his murders, showing his life before and during the shootings. Also, the announcement for the film doesn't mention James Stewart (his voice is heard though(. The only actor mentioned is Ben Gazarra, who not only plays the killer in the movie, but years later would work with director Peter Bogdanovich in two features, Saint Jack and They All Laughed (the latter starring Dorothy Stratten, who was murdered by her husband). See more »
(at around 11 mins) Exterior of Thompson home does not match layout of interior sets. When Bobby pulls up in front of house, front door is set flush in a wall that runs entire length of building; yet when he enters, there is windowed wall that runs along right side of entry hall that could not possibly coexist with exterior. See more »
[as he being driven to the drive-in theater, looking out the car window, while passing many car dealerships]
Gosh, what an ugly town this has become.
See more »
Some prints begin with a caption about gun-control, added after Robert Kennedy's assassination. See more »
Targets is directed by Peter Bogdanovich who also co-writes the screenplay and story with Polly Platt and Samuel Fuller. It stars Boris Karloff, Tim O'Kelly and Bogdanovich himself. Story is patterned around real life mass murderer Charles Whitman, who in 1966 murdered 16 people during a shooting rampage at the University of Texas in Austin.
Cineaste Peter Bogdanovich's debut directing effort, sadly, to this day remains a topical hot spot. Released as it was just after the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, Targets carried much relevance even though it was hardly a success at the box office. Over the years it has come to gain a cult following that is much deserved, the low budget production value actually helping to keep it uneasily potent.
Story is structured by way of two separate narrative threads, one sees Karloff as veteran horror film actor Byron Orlock, who sees himself as an anachronism and announces his retirement from movie making. His reasoning, warranted, is that his type of horror is way behind the times, the real horror is out there on the streets, bleakly headlined in the local newspaper. The other thread concerns Bobby Thompson (O'Kelly), a handsome boy next door type who has a pretty wife but finds himself unemployed and still living with his parents. He is a ticking time bomb, his mind soon to fracture and devastation will follow. The two stories converging for a bloody finale at a drive in movie theatre, where Orlock is making a special guest appearance, the old time horror of the movies coming face to face with the real terror of the modern world.
Though uncredited by choice, the screenplay belongs to Fuller, something that Bogdanovitch has always been keen to point out, and it's with the writing where the film gets its quality factor. The messages within are serious and handled evenly by Bogdanovitch, his pacing precise and in Karloff he has the perfect icon from which to underpin the story. True enough the acting around Karloff is sub-standard, notably from the director himself, but with Bogdanovich deliberately keeping the psychological explanation for Bobby's actions vague, film manages to rise above its flaws to leave an indelible mark. 8/10
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