Saturday, June 27, 2009

Movies That Fell Through the Cracks # 51

RAVAGERS, from 1979, was an early entry into the post-apocalyptic sub-genre of sci-fi films. The fact that you've probably never heard of it is testament to its lack of importance to the genre...or to anything else. There seemed to be a theory in the 1970's that a big-name cast could make up for lack of plot, script or direction. There also seemed to be some dispute as to exactly what constituted a big name cast. RAVAGERS offers up Oscar nominee Richard Harris in the waning days of his above-the-title billing, former Oscar winners Ernest Borgnine and Art Carney, Harris' then-wife Ann Turkel and Alana Stewart (perhaps best-known as the ex-wife of both George Hamilton and Rod Stewart and in the news just this week as a close friend of the last Farrah Fawcett). What passes for a plot, from IMDB-- "In a post-apocalyptic world divided between two groups called the Flockers and the Ravagers, an adventurer and his "pleasure girl" try to find their way to a rumored safe haven called the Land of Genesis." Off the top of my head it reminds me of everything from LOGAN'S RUN to A BOY AND HIS DOG. I'm sure there are others. The date this story is said to have taken place in, by the way, was the far-off year of 1991!

Barely a blip on anyone's radar, Harris' career continued going downhill for another decade or so but by the early 1990's he was a much-wanted character actor. Before his death in 2002, he became well-known to a whole new generation as Dumbledore in the first Harry Potter films. He had divorced Turkel in 1982 but she continued working steadily if not particularly memorably through the late 1990's. Borgnine, now in his 90's, has had several recent critically acclaimed performances. Art Carney never again rose to Oscar-level performances but remained for many years a familiar face and a beloved legend for his TV work of the 1950's. Character actor Anthony James retired from acting in the '90's to become a successful painter. Other supporting actors included the near-legendary Woody Strode and the prolific Seymour Cassel. The latter, although now in his 70's, lists no less than 10 performances this year alone on IMDB! RAVAGERS was directed by Richard Compton who had hit it big with MACON COUNTY LINE and RETURN TO MACON COUNTY. In the decades since, he was best known as a TV director whose work included lots of genre shows from BABYLON 5 and X-FILES to M.A.N.T.I.S. and SLIDERS. He died in 2007.

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