Friday, September 29, 2017

Just Who Is "That Guy Dick Miller?"

Dick Miller is one of the most recognizable character actors of the last 50 years. Even if you don’t recall his name, you definitely know his face. He played the curmudgeonly Mr. Futterman in Gremlins and the gun shop clerk in The Terminator, among a host of other scene-stealing supporting roles. If you’re a fan of 1950s and 60s sci-fi and horror films, I’m sure you remember his many appearances in the movies of writer-director Roger Corman, including It Conquered The WorldNot Of This Earth and the original Little Shop of Horrors. The 2014 documentary That Guy Dick Miller is an enjoyable look at the career of this talented performer. The film features interviews with Miller, his wife Lainie and a host of fans, friends and collaborators, including Corman, film critic Leonard Maltin, actors Robert Forster, Jonathan Haze, Belinda Belaski, Mary Woronov, and directors Fred Dekker, Allan Arkush and Joe Dante.

Dick Miller in The Howling
It’s an engaging story, which charts Miller's journey from his days as a working actor (and a member of Corman’s stock company) to finding fame as one of the most in demand character actors of the 70s and 80s. The portion of the film that recalls his early work is fascinating. It’s an affectionate look at how a loyal cadre of casts and crews quickly and efficiently completed low budget movies back in the 1950s and 60s. No one thought these "B" films and genre pictures would be remembered and celebrated by fans decades later. A generation of filmmakers was influenced by these sci-fi, fantasy and horror movies, including Dante, Arkush, Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese. All of these artists worked for Corman in their younger days. Many of them later cast Miller in their films; in fact, Joe Dante has featured Miller in all of his movies, and is one of his most ardent fans.

Lainie acted as a producer on the film, which was written and directed by Elijah Drenner. This is a marvelous look at the career of a wonderful actor who’s given us a lot of memorable performances over the years. Whether the film he's acting in is good, bad or mediocre, Miller is always excellent. I think you’ll really enjoy this well produced, loving tribute to this iconic actor. If you don't know who Dick Miller is now, you certainly will after watching this entertaining documentary. It might even inspire you to watch (or re-visit) one of the many films he's brightened up with his presence, like the Boris Karloff thriller The Terror, which also featured a young Jack Nicholson. That Guy Dick Miller is available for online viewing at Amazon, and the movie can also be purchased at the film's website: http://www.thatguydickmiller.com. Here’s a link to the film’s trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSKTIe-HRG8.

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