I had the feeling that no students would show up during my office hour.  I gave my lecture and handed out the week’s quiz.  I headed over to the record store and bought used copies of “Café Society” and “Hardcore.”  I bought a quesadilla and took it home to eat it as I watched “Payday,” the unknown movie from the 1970s starring Rip Torn and directed by Daryl Duke.  Rip Torn is country singer Maury Dann, who is a rising talent whose soul is sinking.  He goes through women and pills.  We see a not-so-heartwarming encounter with his mother.  The low point comes when he steps outside for a fight, and the man pulls out a knife.  Maury does something outrageous to avoid trouble with the law.  For a low-budget movie from 1973, the photography and editing are very good, although I couldn’t help noticing that the fake blood looked fake.  People know Rip Torn from The Larry Sanders Show, but this movie shows what is perhaps his greatest work.  Maury Dann was supposed to be something like Hank Williams.  I kept thinking that this movie was released two years before “Nashville,” but it was more convincing with its music.  The main character has something in common with Roy Scheider in “All That Jazz,” a man who was driving himself so hard that he was headed for disaster.  There was a lot of McDonald’s food visible, and I just kept thinking about the way the food was packaged back in 1973.  The scene with the DJ was interesting.  I could see how Maury could get tired of dealing with the music business and the radio business.  It’s a contrast to what we saw in Sissy Spacek in “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”  This movie had a rather unusual final shot, with a man running down the road toward the horizon, not exactly a Charlie Chaplin type of final shot.  This was one of the better movies from 1973, but it was pretty much completely overlooked with “American Graffiti,” “Cries and Whispers,” “The Exorcist,” “Last Tango in Paris,” “Save the Tiger,” and “Serpico” also being released that year.  I looked for “Payday” on video for years before I finally found it.  One of Daryl Duke’s biggest accomplishments was directing “The Thorn Birds” for television in 1983.  He died in 2006 at age 77.  Rip Torn is still alive and is 86 years old.  He appeared in “The Cincinnati Kid,” “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” “Heartland,” “One-Trick Pony,” “Defending Your Life,” “Men in Black,” “The Insider,” and “Marie Antoinette.”  He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “Cross Creek.”  Roger Ebert reviewed the movie in 1975 and gave it four stars.  I think this was the third time I’ve seen it, and I appreciate it a little more with the passage of time.  Some of the people who died on March 4 include Mark Sandrich (1945), William Carlos Williams (1963), Richard Manuel (1986), John Candy (1994), Minnie Pearl (1996), and Horton Foote (2009).  Today is a birthday for Draymond Green (27), Patricia Heaton (59), and Catherine O’Hara (63).

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