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The Omega Man (1971)
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Bogmeister
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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This is one of my personal favorites from the seventies. As with a few other films, some of this may be due to it being one of the earliest science fiction films I've seen (I began to view these in earnest in the seventies).

Many are fans of the picture simply for the sight of a gun-toting Charlton Heston, who seems enamored of such weapons. But, the weapons are merely tools — a methodology by which Heston's character, Neville, expresses his approval of individualism. Sound far-fetched? More on that later.

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This is the Last Man on Earth story done with gusto and panache, especially the first half of the picture. Many fans of this picture are often placed in the position of defending it or feeling guilty about admiring it, mostly due to the liberties taken with Richard Matheson's original novel (I am Legend).

Yes, some of these liberties seem unnecessary and silly — what else is new in Hollywood? Someone thought the sight of albinos dressed as monks would be a great, scary visual and provide impressive-looking adversaries for Neville (Heston). Oops. However, with some minor exceptions, there is very little else wrong with the film.


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Upon a 2nd or 3rd viewing, certain plot points don't hold up well under scrutiny.

One very minor one is near the beginning, something I noted from way back when I first watched it. Neville sits in an empty theater, watching Woodstock. It's one of the most memorable and effective scenes in the film. But, this is a dark theater, right? It's an ideal spot for his enemies to sneak up on him. He sits in the center, very blase, not worried at all. This is at odds with his later concern about the sun setting. I would've, at the very least, sat in the back seats, against a wall. Neville seems to have done this many times before, without problems; of course, the first time he heads down into a dark cellar, he gets bushwhacked.

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Towards the end, his new girlfriend (Rosalind Cash) goes for a last time of shopping and stays at it forever. In fact, she goes at it for so long, it's dark by the time she's walking back to Neville's home.

Huh? Again, all of a sudden, there's a complete lack of concern regarding the lack of sunlight.

Even if her brother hadn't made his fatal move, and she did not revert to albino-mode, it sure seems like things would've ended badly for her anyway due to such careless behavior.


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_____ CHARLTON HESTON is the last man.
________ ROSALIND CASH is the last woman...
_____ ______PAUL KOSLO is the last college student.
_____ _________ANTHONY ZERBE is the last newscaster...


________________ Omega Man - News Report


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But, these clumsy moments aside, this film remains in many ways the ultimate Heston role. This was his rugged individual persona taken to the nth degree.

As he says, no one — not Matthias (Anthony Zerbe) or his band of mutates or any other organization — will force him out of his home until he's good and ready to leave. The will or the whims of the majority do not necessarily hold sway here. Neville has staked out his claim, his piece of property, his land . . . and that's it. That is it.

This says that without individual rights, we have nothing. Heston, of course, enforces this point of view in his own particular style and a lot of it is unforgettable. Needless to say, he doesn't mess around. I watched this again recently, and most of it still holds up quite well, against expectations.


________________ The Omega Man soundtrack


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BoG's Score: 8.5 out of 10

Omega Trivia: The earlier version of Matheson's novel was The Last Man on Earth in 1964, starring Vincent Price. The 2007 remake I Am Legend was released on DVD in 2008. Neville's adversaries were now taken to the other extreme as fully superhuman horrors rather than the clumsy robed figures of the seventies version. But, it was too much — they looked like video game creations, ping-ponging up and off the architecture. And the ending was far too abrupt, having no resonance; I caught myself thinking of Heston's final scene instead. Maybe they'll get Matheson's version right in the year 2035 (unless it really happens by then).



BoG
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Last edited by Bogmeister on Sun May 19, 2019 1:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Krel
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I often wondered if the reason Neville stayed, even though Matthias and his followers were trying to kill him, was because it was a form of companionship. By staying where he was, he forced the Cult to come to him, so in a strange way, he wasn't alone. Evading their attempts to kill him, and hunting them gave him a purpose and was keeping him sane. It was a struggle to the death, but it was still human interaction.

David.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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That's a great observation, David!

On a similar note, perhaps staying in his old residence brought the enemy he wanted to defeat to his fortified stronghold so he could take out as many of them as possible.

He obviously despised what mankind had become, and he didn't want to simply survive — he wanted rid the world of the people who had become these crazed, anti-science fanatics who opposed his efforts to find a cure for the plague!

But you're absolutely right that the battle to protect his home and his old way of life was a key factor in maintaining his sanity.

My first wife and I went to see this movie at a drive-in, and she had seen it before we got married in 1972. She pointed out the significance of Heston's character watching Woodstock, because it allowed a man who was starved for human companionship to see crowds of happy, healthy people!

So I think you're right that even the threat of being captured by the plague-ravaged albinos still offered Heston a way to connect with what was left of mankind. Very Happy

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Krel
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bud Brewster wrote:
On a similar note, perhaps staying in his old residence brought the enemy he wanted to defeat to his fortified stronghold so he could take out as many of them as possible.

Bud, that's one of the things that led me to my theory. Every night they gathered in front of Neville's home. He has an arsenal in his apartment, machine guns on the roof. But the only time he fired at them was when they fired at him. Even then, he didn't seem to be aiming to kill, but at their catapult. Even taunting him, they were human voices, not dead silence of a dead city.

If you look at it, Mathias didn't seem to be trying all that hard to kill Neville. He could have just torched the building, but he kept trying small things. It wasn't till Neville got careless that he had to act. I think that Mathias needed Neville to be his symbol, his Bogeyman to the Family to keep them focused.

David.
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Gord Green
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One point frequently overlooked is that this was one of the first mainstream films featuring an interracial relationship in a very real way.

A PATCH OF BLUE had a black male - white female, but the woman was blind and not exactly what could be considered a conventional relationship.

Sure, the PLATO'S STEPCHILDREN episode of STAR TREK had an interracial kiss (Although under duress and force!), but I believe this was the first time a real "relationship" was a major plot point in mainstream cinema.

I too saw this first at the drive in and enjoyed it greatly.

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Krel
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gord Green wrote:
One point frequently overlooked is that this was one of the first mainstream films featuring an interracial relationship in a very real way.

Not quite. Hollywood has had relationships between a white man and Polynesians, Chinese, Japanese, ect., for decades before this film. They also had relationships between a white women and Asians. Although in a few, but not all of the movies, the actors were Anglos in makeup.

But you are correct about the relationship in "The Omega Man".

David.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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David, I think you're right about the complex relationship between Neville and Mathias — and it's not an idea that ever occurred to me before!

In yesterday's Feature Threads I mentioned that Bogmeister analyzed movies on a deeper intellectual level than I do. I'm sure he would agree with your interpretation of the relationship.

Frankly I've always just thought Neville was a stubborn man too proud to get out of Dodge like he should have, and Mathias was batsh*t crazy and just wanted convert Neville to the "family" because . . . well, he was batsh*t crazy! Shocked

I like your take on the relationships. It adds depth to the story and complexity to the characters.

Good work! Cool

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Eadie
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What I found interesting was the very large CRT TV that Neville had in his apartment.



Predicting the future, are we? I wish there was a better picture of it!

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Last edited by Eadie on Fri May 22, 2020 3:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Pow
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read in Bill Warren's terrific book "Keep Watching the Skies!'' that Richard Matheson had no resentment of TOM film version of his novel because it had very little in common with his book.
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johnnybear
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PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2019 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know about that. It has Robert Neville, a race of creatures that can only come out at night and constantly taunting Neville in the streets. The only thing they didn't do was try to lure him out with some naked female flesh as in the book!
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The Spike
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2020 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kill em or cure them.

Robert Neville appears to be the sole survivor of a biologically waged war. That is except for the mutant night creatures that thirst for Neville's death. Known as the family, they represent the scientific downfall of mankind. Can Neville survive? Is it worth him surviving even after having found a vaccine to the plague?

The Richard Matheison novel, I Am Legend, is proving a really hard book to adapt successfully, even now after a CGI laden modern take starring Will Smith, we are waiting for a film to do this incredible premise justice. The Omega man isn't a bad film at all, the first half is quite simply very intriguing stuff, Charlton Heston is Neville and he has to battle with mental solitude whilst worrying about the albino creatures of the dark that want his blood. But once the story kicks on, the plot wears thin and drifts off into horror conventions purely as a means to up the entertainment value of the piece.

It's also not helped by a quite ludicrous score from Ron Grainer, even allowing for the 70s nature of production, it's jaunty when it should be menacing and detracts from the darker moments of the story. Heston does fine, and easily carries the picture well enough to keep it from mundane average hell, but once the final credits role and the ending sinks in, you kind of feel you have been cheated out of a good movie, which is sad because it promised so very much early on. 6/10 (mainly for the first half).

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Krel
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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I watched this the other day, when I noticed something, that had never occurred to me before. The leader of the cult of mutant psychopaths is a NEWSCASTER!

I don't know if this was intentional or not. But it was a STROKE OF PURE GENIUS worthy of Rod Serling to make a talking head the leader of the cult.

Also when Neville it talking to Mathias, Neville seemed surprised when Mathias shows him their eyes. Why? Neville has found their corpses in the past, he had several in his garage. He also captured one it the past. He should have known about the eyes.

I have to disagree with The Spike, I think that Ron Grainer's soundtrack is fantastic! I bought the CD when it came out years ago. The company eventually reissued the soundtrack because of all the bootleg versions being sold. I particularly like the decaying bell that was also used in "Colossus: The Forbin Project".

David.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Krel wrote:
I think that Ron Grainer's soundtrack is fantastic! I bought the CD when it came out years ago.

I particularly like the decaying bell that was also used in "Colossus: The Forbin Project".

I like the music too, but mostly because I have fond memories in connection with this movie. I saw it at a drive-in with my first wife when we were both pretty young. Our shared enthusiasm for the movie is a very pleasant memory.

A few years later (when I was single again . . . ) I was working on a painting of a girl in my art class, and The Omega Man was on television while I worked. I had a huge crush on the girl — and the painting (despite being one my earliest attempts at painting in oil) was coming along well, so I was feelin' mighty fine. Very Happy

I gave her the painting! Boy, was I stuck this gal . . . Rolling Eyes

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For the reasons described above, I associate this movie with two separate and pleasant "romantic" experiences! (Hey, who knew this movie was chick flick, huh?)
Shocked
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