Category Archives: SACHS AND THE CINEMA

Bertrand Tavernier: “Homage and remakes are the two plagues of the modern cinema”

French director Bertrand Tavernier was such a prolific, stylistically wide-ranging, consistently inspired artist, when he died in 2021, it seemed like the world of cinema had lost four or five great directors. No one had his stylistic reach, which extended to war dramas, policiers, period pieces, domestic thrillers, sci-fi and the jazz classic Round Midnight.

One of film’s last true craftsmen, he shot everything with both a deep respect for the tradition of quality in France and a bold sense of adventure. During his visit to Chicago in 1981, we talked about his risky transformation of a ’60s novel by pulp master Jim Thompson into an edgy noir set in French colonial Senegal: Coup de Torchon. We also talked about the French mastery of stealing from American films.

Hear the conversation on the latest episode of Sachs and the Cinema, on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or whatever platform you like.

And please subscribe to the podcast here.

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Bernardo Bertolucci: “I’m not ashamed of emotion anymore”

With great films such as The Conformist and Last Tango in Paris, Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci drew rave reviews in the face of controversy, the former for its politics and the latter for its X-rated eroticism. But with his 1979 melodrama, Luna, in which an American opera singer has an incestuous relationship with her drug-addicted son, Bertolucci took a critical drubbing. Vincent Canby of the New York Times called the film, “the work of a good poet on an absolutely terrible day.” Bertolucci thinks critics missed the humor in Luna, among other things.

I spoke with the great auteur in 1979 in Chicago during a rare promotional tour for him. You can hear our chat on the latest episode of Sachs and the Cinema, on Spotify and other platforms. And subscribe to the podcast here.

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Terry Gilliam: “I’m always convinced each film is my last film”

Few directors have dined out on conflict the way Terry Gilliam has. Just about every film by the American-born Monty Python animator – from his 1984-ish masterpiece “Brazil” to his forever-in -the-making “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” – has run into trouble: money trouble, studio heads insisting on shorter running times and happier endings, even a torrential flood.

But fighting for his art in sometimes sly ways, he delivered some of the most strikingly original films of his era, among them “Time Bandits,” “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” and “12 Monkeys” – and, of course, “Monty Python’s Meaning of Life.” We spoke in 1985 when he came to Chicago to promote “Brazil,” which required all of his wiles to get released in America in its original version. “A lot of what we’re doing is in unknown territory,” he says. “You don’t know how far you can push an audience.”

Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts and other platforms. And SUBSCRIBE to the podcast (for free, of course) here.

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William Friedkin: Critics Savaged “Sorcerer,” but I Love it a Lot”

In episode two of Sachs and the Cinema, recorded on my trusty cassette recorder in 1985, I talk to “Exorcist” and “French Connection” director William Friedkin, who returned to his hometown of Chicago in the hopes of getting back on the winning commercial track after a few box office failures with “To Live and Die in L.A.”

Starring Windy City actor William Petersen as Secret Service Agent Richard Chance, the film was a kind of West Coast sequel to “French Connection” with its breathtaking chase scenes and obsessed protagonist.

“The whole film is really about counterfeiting, counterfeit relationships, things not being what they seem,” says Friedkin. “There’s a thin line between policeman and criminal, which is really what fascinates me as a theme. Every cop I’ve ever met who’s any good is very close to criminal…To pass undercover, you have to think like a criminal.”

Always a straight-talker, Friedkin openly discusses his hits and misses and his years in L.A., and why “Sorcerer” is his best film. Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts and subscribe HERE.

A reboot of my long-running feature on Chicago radio, Sachs and the Cinema presents rare, never- before-heard chats from the 1980s with great film directors. The podcast debuted with “Halloween” maestro John Carpenter. Next up: Terry Gilliam!

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A chat with the great John Carpenter: Episode One of my new podcast “Sachs and the Cinema”

And heeeere’s Johnny!

Hear a great, never before heard chat from 1986 with the “Halloween” creator on the inaugural episode of “Sachs and the Cinema.” The one-of-a-kind director recalls being called “a pornographer of violence” and straying from making “John Carpenter films” and talks about how Spielberg’s “Temple of Doom” seemed “inflicted on the audience.” The episode is now up on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other platforms – or you can just click here.

“Sachs and the Cinema,” which boasts rare interviews from the 1980s with such directors as Bernardo Bertolucci, Arthur Penn and British visionary Michael Powell, is a reboot of sorts of my old weekly series on Chicago radio. Credit the great DJ Bob Shulman with the title, a play on the Playboy “pictorial” feature Sex and the Cinema. Music by Geof Bradfield, production by Rick Riggs and design by Genevieve Sachs.

Sachs and the Cinema: Introduction to the Podcast

During the late ’70s and early ’80s, I hosted the popular weekly film segment, Sachs and the Cinema, on Chicago radio. Under that banner (a wry take on the old Playboy magazine feature, “Sex and the Cinema”), I’m delighted to present an eight-part series of relaxed, unscripted, never before heard interviews from the 1980s with great directors including John Carpenter, Bernardo Bertolucci, Arthur Penn and British visionary Michael Powell. Recorded in the Windy City in hotel rooms and restaurants on Sachs’ trusty cassette recorder (forgive the occasional police siren or ringing phone!) these interviews put you in the room with these outspoken artists, who discuss their hits as well as their misses with great candor. Here’s a lavishly produced introduction to the series. (Music by Geof Bradfield. Production by Rick Riggs. Design by Genevieve Sachs.)

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Coming soon: Sachs and the Cinema reboots with intimate, never-before-heard interviews with great directors, beginning with the remarkable John Carpenter!

Sachs and the Cinema was my long-running feature on Chicago radio in the late ’70s and early ’80s. You won’t want to miss these intimate, never-before-heard interviews from that period. Episode one presents a lively chat with “Halloween” maestro John Carpenter. More details to come!

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Coming: The way-belated reboot of Sachs and the Cinema! Season one features interviews with eight great directors!

Sachs and the Cinema was my long-running feature on Chicago radio in the late ’70s and early ’80s. You won’t want to miss these intimate, never-before-heard interviews from that period. Episode one presents a lively chat with the one-of-a-kind artist John Carpenter. More details to come!