Badlands Poster

Fellow Film Club Members & Movie Buffs:

Just when we thought Indian Summer was over, it made a cameo appearance just to tease us; but the autumn chill is gathering, and the best solution for dealing with it is to get yourself out to a movie. The Tacoma Film Club is proud to be screening Terrence Malick’s classic crime film, BADLANDS (1973), this Friday, October 11, 2013.


This poster is a bit of a mystery, a joke project I suspect.


Terrence Malick, like Orson Welles before him, produced two masterpieces with the first two feature films he directed, BADLANDS (1973), & DAYS OF HEAVEN (1978). Then he took a 20 year hiatus from films, and went to France where he taught philosophy from 1979-1994. Malick released THE THIN RED LINE (1998), THE NEW WORLD (2005), & THE TREE OF LIFE (2011). He had worked on THE TREE OF LIFE as a project for over 30 years. He writes his own films, and did get his start with writing. He wrote the screenplays for POCKET MONEY (1972), which flopped, & DIRTY HARRY (1971), which was never used. He turned down a chance to direct THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980), and the job went to David Lynch. At present, he has two films in post-production. He likes to do a Hitchcockian cameo in all of his films. He shoots a lot outside, and rarely uses artificial light. He is a recluse, and rarely gives interviews. He usually includes narration by one of his characters in his films.


Terrence Malick on BADLANDS: “I tried to keep the 1950’s theme to a bare minimum. Nostalgia is a powerful feeling, and it can drown out anything else. I wanted the picture to set up like a fairy tale, outside of time, like Treasure Island. I tried to make even the violence have a dreamy quality.”


Trivia: Malick used a non-union crew, and shot the film for $300,000. The Art Director, Jack Fisk, has worked on every Malick film since. There was a terrible accident when they filmed the fire scene for Holly’s home. An assistant lit a match too early, and the place exploded, injuring several people. Fisk married Sissy Spacek. Malick’s cameo in the film only occurred when the actor hired did not show up. Malick was a protege of Arthur Penn’s, whom he met while attending the AFI. He actually began working on BADLANDS while still attending AFI. Don Johnson did audition for the part of Kit.


The cinematography was done by Tak Fujimoto, who has lensed 61 films from 1973-2013. BADLANDS was his first feature film. He went on to shoot MELVIN & HOWARD (1980) FERRIS BEULLER’S DAY OFF (1986), THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991), GLADIATOR (1992), DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS (1995), SIGNS (2002), and the JOHN ADAMS mini-series in (2008). 


The musical score was written by George Tipton, known mostly for television movies and TV series scores, BADLANDS was his only feature film. He has a repeated use of a short composition, GASSENHAUER, from Carl Orff’s SCHULWERK.



Directed by Terence Malick @ 94 minutes.

The film stars Martin Sheen, Sissy Spacek, Warren Oates,  & Alan Vint, with unbilled cameos by T. Malick, Emilio Estevez, & Charlie Sheen.


Synopsis: Based on the true story of Charles Starkweather & Caril Ann Fugate murder spree in 1958, it is the story of a troubled garbage collector & his under-age girlfriend, who first kill her father and then embark on a journey rife with random murders, culminating in the badlands of Montana.


Taglines: In 1959, she watched while he killed a lot of people. 

In 1959, a lot of people were killing time. Kit & Holly were killing people.”


Holly: He wanted to die with me, and I dreamed of being lost forever in his arms.

Rotten Tomatoes gave it a Critic’s Approval of 98%, and an Audience Approval of 89%.

Picture 3

Vincent Canby (NY TIMES) wrote: “This is an important, exciting film–it’s cool, sometimes brilliant, and always ferociously American.”

Peter Stack ( SF CHRONICLE) wrote: “Among the great American crime movies, BADLANDS stands alone.”

Mark Pfeiffer ( REEL TIMES) wrote: “Malick has come to be known as a cinematic poet & philosopher–a filmmaker who explores big ideas.”

Fernando Croce ( CinePassion) wrote: “Malick is an uncanny creator of pearlescent forms, a very stark balladeer, Mark Twain’s ferocious heir.”

Roger Ebert ( CHICAGO SUN TIMES) wrote: “Kit & Holly were in over their heads, incapable of understanding murder as crime rather than a convenience, inhabitants of lives so empty that even their sins cannot fill them.”

Badlands 10

So mark your calendars for Friday, October 11, 2013, and join the TFC for our screening of Terrence Malick’s debut film, BADLANDS (1973). It will screen at the Center for Spiritual Living, located at 206 North J Street, on the corner of J and Division, across the street from Group Health hospital. Arrive early, around 6:15 p.m., and join some of us downstairs in the kitchen area for fun & fellowship. It is permitted to bring snacks & beverages, including wine, to share with others–but please remember that no food or drink can be brought into the sanctuary upstairs to watch the movie. Please clean up the kitchen area before coming upstairs. BADLANDS will screen at 7:15 p.m., and it runs 94 minutes–so it will be over before 9 p.m. See you at the movies!


One thought on “BADLANDS @ CSL

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