Watching Rip Torn play the Hank Williams Jr.-esque minor country star Maury Dann in Daryl Duke’s Payday (1973) was bittersweet. It showed me what he might have been had this film not been buried. Jeremy Smith (writing for Chud) pretty much nailed it when he wrote:
If Payday has a reputation, it’s as the movie that should’ve established Torn as one of his generation’s best actors. But the picture - the debut production for Saul Zaentz’s Fantasy Films - never received a wide release, and has since been buried due to a lack of availability and the fact that Torn subsequently went the character actor route. Watching the actor bare-knuckle his way through Payday is to wonder what might’ve been. Though his own erratic behavior probably would’ve kept him from a steady run as a leading man (please Google “Rip Torn” and “Norman Mailer”), there’s no doubt that he was the genuine article - a wilder, scarier, more unpredictable Jack Nicholson. As many have noted, Torn was a man seemingly consumed with violence; when he erupts onscreen, you’re witness to a temporary exorcising of personal demons. He touches depths to which few actors are privy.
Not only was the acting superb, but the direction was impressive as well. It was loose, bare-knuckled and surprisingly enlightening in every way a great ’70s American film ought to be. That it’s taken me so long to find this film is a disappointment. Not only could Rip Torn’s career had gone an entirely different direction had this film been seen, but the former television director Daryl Duke’s could have as well. Rather than going on to do primarily exploitation drive-in fare for the rest of the ’70s and then television epics (The Thorn Birds and Tai-Pan, for instance), he maybe could have had a run at making the sort of films that Hal Ashby, Bob Rafelson and Mike Nichols made for a decade. Instead, his career feels akin to the great-but-underutilized Monte Hellman, whose existential westerns (Ride in the Whirlwind, The Shooting) and cult classics Two-Lane Blacktop and Cockfighter show what might have been had he found producers who believed in him and knew how to sell his work.

Watching Rip Torn play the Hank Williams Jr.-esque minor country star Maury Dann in Daryl Duke’s Payday (1973) was bittersweet. It showed me what he might have been had this film not been buried. Jeremy Smith (writing for Chud) pretty much nailed it when he wrote:

If Payday has a reputation, it’s as the movie that should’ve established Torn as one of his generation’s best actors. But the picture - the debut production for Saul Zaentz’s Fantasy Films - never received a wide release, and has since been buried due to a lack of availability and the fact that Torn subsequently went the character actor route. Watching the actor bare-knuckle his way through Payday is to wonder what might’ve been. Though his own erratic behavior probably would’ve kept him from a steady run as a leading man (please Google “Rip Torn” and “Norman Mailer”), there’s no doubt that he was the genuine article - a wilder, scarier, more unpredictable Jack Nicholson. As many have noted, Torn was a man seemingly consumed with violence; when he erupts onscreen, you’re witness to a temporary exorcising of personal demons. He touches depths to which few actors are privy.

Not only was the acting superb, but the direction was impressive as well. It was loose, bare-knuckled and surprisingly enlightening in every way a great ’70s American film ought to be. That it’s taken me so long to find this film is a disappointment. Not only could Rip Torn’s career had gone an entirely different direction had this film been seen, but the former television director Daryl Duke’s could have as well. Rather than going on to do primarily exploitation drive-in fare for the rest of the ’70s and then television epics (The Thorn Birds and Tai-Pan, for instance), he maybe could have had a run at making the sort of films that Hal Ashby, Bob Rafelson and Mike Nichols made for a decade. Instead, his career feels akin to the great-but-underutilized Monte Hellman, whose existential westerns (Ride in the Whirlwind, The Shooting) and cult classics Two-Lane Blacktop and Cockfighter show what might have been had he found producers who believed in him and knew how to sell his work.

Mr. Nicholson dominates the film with what amounts to an anthology of swaggers optimistic, knowing, angry, foolish and forlorn. It’s by far the best thing he’s ever done. If anything it’s almost too good in that it disguises with charm the empty landscape of the life it represents.
— Vincent Canby, in his February 11, 1974 New York Times review of The Last Detail (1973), directed by Hal Ashby, pictured above on the set of the film with Otis Young and Jack Nicholson

Mr. Nicholson dominates the film with what amounts to an anthology of swaggers optimistic, knowing, angry, foolish and forlorn. It’s by far the best thing he’s ever done. If anything it’s almost too good in that it disguises with charm the empty landscape of the life it represents.

— Vincent Canby, in his February 11, 1974 New York Times review of The Last Detail (1973), directed by Hal Ashby, pictured above on the set of the film with Otis Young and Jack Nicholson

Hal Ashby and Bud Cort, 1971, count the moon real slowly while Ruth Gordon warms up the ol’ vocal cords for her duet with Cat (a date with destiny for which she was stood up). Meanwhile, across the cosmos, David O. Russell talks Wes Anderson into climbing headfirst into the “magic sleeping bag” for the first time. Elliot Gould, however, has blown out all his candles yet failed to request a million more wishes.

Hal Ashby and Bud Cort, 1971, count the moon real slowly while Ruth Gordon warms up the ol’ vocal cords for her duet with Cat (a date with destiny for which she was stood up). Meanwhile, across the cosmos, David O. Russell talks Wes Anderson into climbing headfirst into the “magic sleeping bag” for the first time. Elliot Gould, however, has blown out all his candles yet failed to request a million more wishes.

(Source: aapotter)

Jack Nicholson promoting one of his finest performances — Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail (1973). It won the Palme d’Or and Best Actor at Cannes, and was also nominated for Best Actor (Nicholson), Best Supporting Actor (Randy Quaid) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Robert Towne) Oscars.
The film was controversial due to the high volume of profanity. Peter Guber recalls, “The first seven minutes, there were 342 ‘fucks’”. The head of Columbia asked Towne to reduce the number of curse words to which the writer responded, “This is the way people talk when they’re powerless to act; they bitch”. 
(photo via anneyhall)

Jack Nicholson promoting one of his finest performances — Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail (1973). It won the Palme d’Or and Best Actor at Cannes, and was also nominated for Best Actor (Nicholson), Best Supporting Actor (Randy Quaid) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Robert Towne) Oscars.

The film was controversial due to the high volume of profanity. Peter Guber recalls, “The first seven minutes, there were 342 ‘fucks’”. The head of Columbia asked Towne to reduce the number of curse words to which the writer responded, “This is the way people talk when they’re powerless to act; they bitch”. 

(photo via anneyhall)