There’s been a trend on the interwebs of sites passing off information that’s been hidden for years – usually stowed away in antique technology like ‘books’ or ‘magazines’ – as news. Who am I to buck the trend? Instead of pretending that this stuff is news I’ll present it to you as interesting bits of info that you may have never learned otherwise. It’s not news, but it’s probably news to you.
There are a number of movies missing from DVD/Blu-Ray, but few as egregiously as Rolling Thunder. With a script by Paul Schrader and a classic lead performance by William Devane (as well as a stunningly badass supporting turn by a very young Tommy Lee Jones), this film is the sort of gritty 70s movie you think only exists in your head.
Devane is a Vietnam POW who returns home after years of imprisonment only to find the world has changed around him. His son is no longer a baby and his wife is no longer faithful. He struggles to keep it all together, but when a gang of thugs break into his home, kill his wife and child and shove his hand into a garbage disposal – all in an attempt to get a bunch of silver dollars given to him by a local department store – Devane enters into silent and calm revenge mode.
Schrader’s original script was apparently changed immensely, and possibly for the better. But one of the most interesting things left out of the finished film is Schrader’s vision of a brief crossover between Devane’s Charles Rane and Travis Bickle from his previous film, Taxi Driver. In this script a very different version of Rane goes to a drive in to watch Deep Throat (you can see the young Schrader really reusing themes here):
Anyway, this never came to pass. But what was Schrader’s bigger plan? Did he have a reason for Travis Bickle suddenly showing up in a drive-in in Texas? Was this just a young screenwriter heady with his own success looking to draw attention to how well he had done before? I like to imagine what the cinema world would be like if Paul Schrader had created his own Schraderverse. I’d like to see what Travis Bickle could have brought to Cat People.
Thanks to CHUD Message Board MVP Phil for bringing this to my attention.