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Episode 153 - Cry Uncle! (w/ Lloyd Kaufman)


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Poll: Episode 153 - Cry Uncle! (w/ Lloyd Kaufman) (14 member(s) have cast votes)

Should "Cry Uncle!" enter The Canon?

  1. Yes (1 votes [7.14%])

    Percentage of vote: 7.14%

  2. No (13 votes [92.86%])

    Percentage of vote: 92.86%

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#1 Dalton Maltz

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 07:53 PM

Renowned filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman (Troma Entertainment) joins Amy to discuss the 1971 comedy “Cry Uncle!” Lloyd talks about his work as a production manager on the film as well as the auteur style of director John G. Avildsen. Plus, we hear about the film’s brand of modern feminism, Lloyd’s cameo in “Rocky,” and the puritanism of American cinema.

#2 LanceHunter

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Posted 07 May 2018 - 04:49 AM

Gonna watch Cry Uncle! later this week before casting my vote, but I gotta applaud Amy for this episode. That was some A+ quality cat herding keeping Kaufman (almost) on topic.

#3 Johnny Pomatto

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Posted 07 May 2018 - 08:38 AM

I really loved this episode. I have a lot of reverence and love for Lloyd Kaufman and his dialogue with Amy made me wish for a return appearance to continue his conversation. I had only ever heard of CRY UNCLE, mostly as a 70's exploitation film, a supposed early blot of a cult film in Avildsen's career. I was shocked to discover that this was released after JOE, his breakout film, but CRY UNCLE feels like the film you make before being discovered and garnering attention. That is not to say that I didn't enjoy this film on many levels that I didn't expect to. We know the 1970's to be a very revolutionary time for eroticism in film. Films like DEEP THROAT and BEHIND THE GREEN DOOR achieved mainstream success. While most films of the genre can't be called champions for feminism, other films managed to combine titillation, satire, and ideas of female empowerment. Last year The Quad Cinema in NYC did a series of New York set Porn from the 70's. We went to see a double bill of THE OPENING OF MISTY BEETHOVEN and NAKED CAME THE STRANGER, mostly as a joke, but we were astonished by not just how well made and entertaining they were, but also by the subversive ideas and humor layered between the seemingly endless scenes of blow jobs.

CRY UNCLE may seem a bit more tepid as an adult film, and a lot less graphic than some of its counterparts of the era, but it does aim higher than a typical nudie flick. The mere casting of Allen Garfield is a tremendously funny joke, as well as a hero to look up to for us who identify as pot-bellied Casanovas. I've long been a fan of Garfield in his bit roles in some of my favorite films, so it was a lot of fun to see him get to carry a film all on his own. I love the bookending of the film with his sweet but highly sexual relationship with his girlfriend, on either side of his romp of adventures with sex and murder. Even in his wild fantasy movie in which Garfield finds himself to be the hero, he is hardly portrayed as God's gift to women. I first realized that this was going to deviate from what we would eventually know the porn genre to be when Cora would fully reject his advances as Jake attempted to take a shower with her. The mere act of disrobing in front of an open door was typically an act of coy seduction, and here she instantly pushes him away, only to bed a younger man who she finds more attractive in the next scene. Of course this doesn't fully commit to the comedic idea that Jake can't get laid in his own sexploitation movie, but as Amy pointed out, the sex is usually a means to an end and integrated into the plot as ways for manipulation, just like Phillip Marlow might go about navigating through dames in THE BIG SLEEP.

I wish this did feel a bit more like a 70's successor to those kind of hard boiled detective stories. I don't think that CRY UNCLE is that far removed from a film like Robert Altman's THE LONG GOODBYE in what its trying to accomplish, but Altman managed to be more successful at crafting a mystery against this kind of backdrop. I wish that the story in CRY UNCLE mattered a little bit more. The film gets a little bogged down with too much sex and comedy in the middle, leaving for a lot of explanation and crowded events in the climax as they attempt to wrap things up in a satisfying way. My wife was walking in and out of room as I was watching the film and made note that she couldn't follow the plot at all, and I had to admit that I was having some difficulty myself and I was actually paying attention to it. I think The Canon definitely needs some more subversive and divisive entries, (I share Amy's love of BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS and hope we get an episode to showcase it at some point). I think there's a few Troma films that have made a bit of a cultural impact than CRY UNCLE that I think might have an easier time getting in. I also think it's worth letting in a true X-rated film (aside from MIDNIGHT COWBOY) into The Canon, because a film like DEEP THROAT can't be denied as being an incredibly influential milestone for film history. I enjoyed CRY UNCLE a lot, but I don't see this specific film as influencing or shaping future films in its genre. I kinda wish that Kaufman had presented Avilsen's JOE, which I think is a more noteworthy film for his career and 70's cinema in general. But I'm also glad that Lloyd brought such passion and enthusiasm to the show and I'm certainly thankful that he gave me an excuse to watch CRY UNCLE, even if I have to give it a respectful No vote.

#4 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 07 May 2018 - 03:47 PM

View PostJohnny Pomatto, on 07 May 2018 - 08:38 AM, said:

I wish this did feel a bit more like a 70's successor to those kind of hard boiled detective stories. I don't think that CRY UNCLE is that far removed from a film like Robert Altman's THE LONG GOODBYE in what its trying to accomplish, but Altman managed to be more successful at crafting a mystery against this kind of backdrop. I wish that the story in CRY UNCLE mattered a little bit more. The film gets a little bogged down with too much sex and comedy in the middle, leaving for a lot of explanation and crowded events in the climax as they attempt to wrap things up in a satisfying way. My wife was walking in and out of room as I was watching the film and made note that she couldn't follow the plot at all, and I had to admit that I was having some difficulty myself and I was actually paying attention to it.


Agreed. I didn't much care for the gratuitous sex scenes in this movie. Not because I was offended by them, but because they seemed to add nothing to THIS story. If anything, it feels like the plot has to take a break for a while so we can get our Troma quotient of sex & nudity.

I respect Lloyd Kaufman's enthusiasm and hustle, and as always he's a very entertaining interview, but I think ultimately Cry Uncle demonstrates some of the limitations of Troma's approach: transgressiveness for transgressiveness' sake is not enough. It needs to be tied to something else you're trying to say about the world. I can't discern what Cry Uncle is trying to say about anything; it just seems to float by as a series of disconnected, sometimes individually entertaining scenes, which is maybe not a great approach for a detective story.

Maybe there's an argument for canonizing this as an example of Troma's style of cinema, warts and all, but I think we can get a better Troma movie nominated at some point. It's a "no" vote from me.

#5 FictionIsntReal

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Posted 07 May 2018 - 08:31 PM

This film struck me as silly & stupid in an unremarkable way. It's largely an excuse to put a lot of nudity onscreen, but now that we can easily access nudity on the internet there's less need for such films. If we were to include a "genuine X-rated film" in the Canon I would assume it should be something with a bigger impact than this (which I hadn't heard of until it was nominated). If you were going to nominate a Troma film, the obvious one to go with is Toxic Avenger, even if it only belonged in a "cult canon" alongside Cannibal Holocaust (Zulawski's Possession would the film I'd personally stump for in such a canon, though it's good enough to be seen more widely). If you weren't satisfied with John Avildsen already having Rocky and insisted on also including one of his earlier works for some reason, the obvious one to go with would be Joe. It's hard to see why Kaufman nominated this one, and after watching a Troma triple-feature culminating in the awful "Terror Firmer" (in which he has the chutzpah to deride Spielberg's filmmaking, while associating himself with Sam Fuller* and other artists more popular with the sophisticated French critics), I'd be inclined to vote against his nomination purely out of spite. Fortunately, I was already set on voting against it on the merits before watching either of the next two Troma films, so I can feel confident my vote isn't tainted. I can agree with Kaufman that Toxic Avenger works, but so do many pulp detective stories, and I think I could have enjoyed a straight take on that from Avildsen than I did this.
*Though using a film Fuller himself disowned.

Shakespeare was very commercially successful, enough so that we've got a lot of documentation of his financial work. And as hard as people may try to twist his work for modern sensibilities, he was writing to entertain the aristocratic powers that be and flatter their sensibilities. I don't think he'd be into Troma.

#6 TheFanon

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Posted 08 May 2018 - 07:56 AM

There might be room in the Canon for sleazy sexploitation, but this ain't it. Not even close. This is one of the worst films ever nominated for the Canon. I admire its ambition to elevate itself above the typical soft-core film of its time, but the comedy just doesn't land at all.

Also, for all the discussion of the complicated feminism of Cora's character, I'm surprised the rape scene and the necrophilia were never mentioned in this episode (Every time Kaufman earnestly described Masters as a Capra-esque hero I wanted to force him to rewatch the film Alex DeLarge-style). I didn't see the film as having feminist elements at all; to me it seemed like a knee-jerk reaction against second-wave feminism. Most female characters in this film read like Avildsen was saying "Can you really trust these broads? They're out to get you! At least they've got good tits though!"

Anyway, I hope a Russ Meyer film is eventually discussed on the podcast so we can have a serious debate about the merits of a sexploitation film.

#7 A.V.

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Posted 08 May 2018 - 08:05 AM

yes.

and so far, i'm alone in that. which is fine.

loved this movie. and i'm thankful to amy for providing the platform that let kaufman introduce me to it. it's exactly why i listen intently to a ton of movie pods, for the rare chance that something i'd never heard of before will tickle me so much.

yeah, it's a silly comedy full of gratuitous sex. which is exactly what it sets out to be and succeeds wildly in achieving. why it belongs in the canon is for its historical place at a crossroads when porn hadn't been defined yet and was about to develop out of the nudie-cutie and the nudist colony documentary, and into the mafia-profit monster that deep throat ushered in. the comment that ubiquity of sex via youtube renders this movie as unnecessary, well, let's flip that and say that it was necessary at one time for nudity to surface in film, and you can see this movie figuring out how with aplomb and hilarity. so i say yes because this movie is a top example of that moment.

#8 uh_tom

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 09:32 AM

What the hell did I just watch.

I've never seen any other movie like this. It is not porn in the modern sense, but definitely revels in its sexual explicitness. Its filmmakers are/were obviously irreverently humorous. It's crass for sure, but intentionally, so I'm willing to roll with it. I feel a little like I did after watching Crumb, disturbed yet surprisingly entertained. What a strange tone to the ending. Maybe it's a coda to emphasize some redemption achieved from the preceding, ahem, action.

It really is bizarre to me to think of this film having any kind of theatrical distribution. What different times those were.

I had never heard of this movie or of Troma films, and I can't compare it against contemporary movies of a similar type. I haven't even seen The Long Goodbye. I tried watching for some technical or narrative innovation but I just don’t think I have enough context. I do now appreciate that perhaps there is more room in my cinematic world for the sexploitation genre than I had expected. I'm in for a farce, but not sure where or how I'll draw the line on good versus ill natured exploitation. Can exploitation even be good natured, are there degrees and does degree even matter? I guess those are personal decisions and I'll have to think on it.

I'm not voting but I'm inclined towards no for inclusion in the canon, given the presumption that this movie is just one of a genre in which there are superior examples.

#9 bleary

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 01:51 PM

I really didn't know how to feel about this one until Amy mentioned Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, at which point I realized THAT is the version of Cry Uncle! that is as transgressive, satirical, and X-rated, but actually works as a film. Also, a couple people on here have mentioned the possibility that we should induct a true X-rated film into the Canon, but the Canon already has Female Trouble, which is a similar type of transgressive genre parody, but again, works much better as a film.

To start, I felt that the laughs in Cry Uncle! were rather few and far between. A large part of that is an issue I have with much of the humor in transgressive films of the 60s and 70s, that it just hasn't aged well. Or maybe I'm just one of those social justice warriors that Lloyd Kaufman so dislikes. (I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt and not lump him in with comedians who blame so-called social justice warriors for their own lack of comedic evolution, resulting in what was once seen as shocking and funny now seen as lazy and hack.)

The scattered and confusing plot could be played as a satire of the overly intricate plots of the film noirs of the 40s, 50s, and 60s, but instead there's no indication that it's a joke at all, and it plays as a bug rather than a feature.

So what would be the argument to induct Cry Uncle!? Among X-rated films, we already have Midnight Cowboy, Female Trouble, and it seems like this forum would rather debate a Russ Meyer film for an additional entry. Among the John Avildsen filmography, this film plays more like a curiosity than a touchstone. And even among the Troma films, it's hard not to see The Toxic Avenger as the logical representative there. I'll vote no on this one.

#10 Nathan Roberson

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 06:43 PM

It's an easy no. Glad it was only an hour and a half, though it could've been half an hour.

#11 Cronopio

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 09:53 AM

You can make a case for a lot of exploitation movies in all their varieties, from the already much mentioned "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" or blaxploitations flicks like "Coffy" or "Across 110th Street", a women in prison film like Jonathan Demme's "Caged Heat, to the nunsploitation Mexican horror of "Alucarda" - but any of those movies have a spark of inspiration, or at least some panache in the filmmaking, which "Cry Uncle" just doesn't have. Fun, but no.

#12 daustin

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 06:35 AM

A no, but I'm glad to have this bizarro little film, which I had never heard of before. I'd be an easy yes on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and Faster Pussycast, though, and I've give serious consideration to Vixen and Supervixens.
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