forgotten film time:

End of the Road

R E V I V A L !

End of The Road (1970) will screen at the Denver International Film Festival at 4 p.m. on October 9th, 1999. The film received the festival's CRITIC's CHOICE award by Steven Rosen of the Denver Post.

End of the Road was co-produced and written by Terry Southern—adapted from the John Barth Novel.

Shot two weeks after Bobby Kennedy's assassination, End of the Road is another Southern signature for an era--the death of the 60s idealism. Directed by Terry's Paris, jazz-hipster cohort Aram Avakian--who was Bert Stern's apprentice as a photographer, and Robert Wise's editor on The Miracle Worker. Aram, Armenian, was a talented genius--who Ralph Rosenblum, the cutter of all Woody Allen movies, cites in his book 'On the Cutting Room Floor' as "the reason I got into editing."

Made before Easy Rider, but released months after it, the film was even more 'outside' the studio system than Easy Rider. Shot with non-union actors and crew in the Berkshires, the film was the first feature for Actor's Studio players JAMES EARL JONES, STACEY KEACH, and HARRIS YULIN, and Aram's wife, DOROTHY TRISTAN. JAMES COCO also appears.

It was also the first feature to be shot by the incredible cinematographer GORDON WILLIS. Gordon went on to photograph All The President's Men, The Godfather, and most of Woody Allen's movies.

Michael Chapman was the camera operator--it was his first feature also.

Teo Macero did the music.

End of the Road is also unique because of its 'X' rating. Despite a total absence of nudity, profanity, or violence, the film received this death-sentence. Judith Crist, a powerful critic in New York at the time, helped kill it. With the Vietnam war raging, she said something like, 'go see Patton instead--our country is better served.'

The movie is an indictment of the upcoming 'me' generation, and also a philosophical questioning of the notion of succeeding and even participating in a society that is so violent. After graduating from an ivy-league school, Stacey Keach is seen standing at a New England train station, waiting on a platform--in a state of catatonia. He literally stands there for days without moving--like a human sculpture--an installation of broken promise. James Earl Jones discovers him, and takes him back to "the farm of psychic remobilization." The rest of the film is an exploration into Jacob Horner's limits and values, in the face of all he thought he had, which crumbles before him under the existential questioning of the powerful and very black Doctor D.

Why the 'X'? There is an upsetting abortion scene at the end of the film--which is non-graphic, but terminal for the love-interest. The three main characters finish the movie in a state of catatonia, all in one claustrophobic room: James Earl Jones--the doctor-cum-killer, Stacey Keach--the original catatonic, and the dead woman.

This screening is dedicated to Aram Avakian, and his recently married daughter, Alexandra. Congratulations!