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Plot: A conservative Midwest businessman ventures into the sordid underworld of pornography in California to look for his runaway teenage daughter who is making porno films in California's porno pits. Runtime: 109 mins Release Date: 27 Apr 1979
A great underrated classic film from Schrader; One of George C. Scott's greatest performances (by Aw-komon)
In the late '70s Schrader used to make films almost as great as Scorsese's. "Blue Collar" and "Hardcore" are both fantastically realistic and ambiguous, simultaneously horrifying and funny. So, what happened? Except for Nick Nolte's performance which as good as it was, is easily topped by George C. Scott's amazing one here , nothing in Schrader's recent "Affliction" is anywhere near the level of "Hardcore," which ususally gets only a ridiculouly low 2 stars from critics. The great thing about "Hardcore" is that it <more>
doesn't cheat on reality by having stereotypical characters or idiotic "Magnolia-like" cynical cartoons running around like aliens from another planet pretending to be portraying people on this one. Scott's character is often made to look so absurd, walking around preaching rigid Calvinist ethics to hookers, you can't help but sympathize for his girl having run away. Even making a living in cheap porno films can be seen as preferable to having to put up with a father like Scott. When Scott beats up "Jism Jim" in the shower for having unknowingly made a hateful remark about his daughter's sexual hunger and wildness when performing fellatio, you can't help but feel the real reason for Scott's anger. Scott erupts so volcanically because he can't imagine his 'pure' daughter being so "staved" for sexual attention that she'd be willing to go that wild for a degenerate like "Jism Jim." It's reality that hits him in the face like a cold slap; the fact of his having repressed his daughter all these years into a 'nice girl' and of her having had secret desires that had gone unsatisfied or without even a hope of being satisfied under the repressed conditions which she lived. Nevertheless, the ending is definitely NOT a happy one as some people suggest; it is a highly ambiguous one. After telling her father that she wasn't forced to do what she did, and that she did it because she chose and wanted to do it, she nevertheless decides that the sleazy, dangerous world she's caught up in is not where she'd like to find her happiness, and goes back with her father FOR THE TIME BEING. This does not mean that she's decided to go back to what she was before, but that she's intelligent enough to know that she has to strike a balance between the two extremes. So, in a sense, it is a happy ending, if you can imagine that from now on her father will let her live a freer life, and that she'll be able to assert herself and be independent. However, that is anything but certain, and she might end up having to run away again. But if George C. Scott has learned anything in his misadventures in the world of low-rent porn and prostitution, it is to be less judgemental and more sympathetic to people and will have to strike a balance himself. In the end he has come to care enough for 'fallen people,' to want to also help the hooker Nicky, who helped him find his daughter, but for whom it seems to be too late.
George C. Scott gives one of his best performances as a respected, religious, businessman who sees his daughter off for a church camp and is shocked when she turns up missing. His search leads him to the seedy world of pornography where scummy private detective Peter Boyle finds her in a porno movie. The search leads on as Scott enlists the aid of a hooker.A moving, powerful look at morality and the wrong turns some of us take - whether we know it or not.This is a great drama save for an abrupt conclusion writer/director Paul Shrader also abruptly ended his equally superb "Blue <more>
A Dramatic Look Into The Seedy 70'S Era Of Underground Porn And Snuff... (by EVOL666)
HARDCORE is an all-around excellent film about the sleazy "underbelly" of the 70's porn era. From what I've read about these times I was only about 3 years old around the time this film was set... it seems that a lot of the "details" in HARDCORE are pretty accurate - the sleazy "massage" and "wrestling" parlors, the "adult bookstores", the hotel-room "casting-calls" and "auditions", the scumbag producers and directors, the drug-hazed actors and prostitutes...it all seemed a realistic representation of the porn <more>
underworld of that time-frame.The film centers around a young girl who grew up in a small, religiously devout town in Michigan. She goes off on a bible-camp trip to California, and promptly disappears. Her father played BRILLIANTLY by George C. Scott is a local business-owner who goes to California for information, and eventually hires a semi-sleazy private-dick to help find his daughter. Scott heads back home to Michigan while the investigator makes his inquiries. A few weeks later, the investigator shows up in Michigan and shows Scott in a pretty harrowing scene... a short porn reel that shows his daughter being double-teamed in some scummy hotel room. Apparently, daughter-dearest has turned to a life of b.j.'s and face-baths, either by force or by choice. Furious at this change of events, and by the fact that the investigation is turning up so little info after weeks of "digging" - Scott high-tails it back to L.A. to do some "research" of his own. At first, he goes to local porn shops, whore-houses, etc...with a picture of his daughter and asking a bunch of questions. Naturally, he doesn't get too far with that route, as everyone just thinks he's a cop. After a few unsuccessful attempts, he decides to pose as a businessman looking to fund a porn film, and starts making some contacts. This exposes Scott to shady producers, pimps, whores, "actors", and all other types of underground low-lifes. Eventually he hooks up with a small time hooker who knew some of people that hung-out with his daughter. This leads them on a blind chase across California - from L.A., to San Diego, and finally to San Francisco to look for a couple of guys that have been spotted with his daughter, and are into some pretty rough stuff, including making authentic snuff films. Now seriously fearing for his daughter's life - Scott sets up a meeting with someone who claims to know his daughter...and this leads into the dramatic climax. Will he find his daughter? Will she still be alive? If so, why did she leave - was it by choice or force? Sound interesting?...it is, and you should find out for yourself...Although I didn't get to personally witness it, I'm highly interested in the 70's/early 80's era of grindhouse and porn as it was such an experimental and subversive time for underground films, and HARDCORE captures the "feel" of the era perfectly. The film itself is great in every way, and also explores a lot of subjects, without ever becoming "preachy". There's the "fish out of water" tale of this religious man thrown in amongst pimps and whores and porn, and it's interesting to watch Scott adapt to his surroundings in order to find his daughter. There's a "cautionary tale" about running out on your own at a young age and trusting untrustworthy people. There's a story about the breakdown of family, and the gap between parents and children that oftentimes parents either overlook or deny entirely - and of course the story of the pitfalls of sex and drugs. But again, I feel that HARDCORE portrays these situations in a fair and honest light, and doesn't seem to really cast "judgement" on many of the characters, as can be seen in some of the amusing and truly touching conversations between Scott and the young hooker he enlists to help him.As the film itself goes - I can't think of a single flaw with it. Obviously an early precursor and superior film in general to the Nicholas Cage vehicle, 8MM, which deals with much of the same subject matter - I've tried to think of a reason to NOT give HARDCORE a 10/10, as I don't tend to throw perfect ratings out lightly - but I honestly can't think of a damn thing that I didn't like about this film. The story was interesting, well-paced, and at points harrowing and suspenseful. The acting was superb by all involved. The direction was perfect and really caught the grittiness of the underground sex-scene - and it wouldn't be one of MY reviews if I didn't mention the pretty abundant amount of nudity, including a little bit of brief full-frontal goes to show that even in a more "serious" film - nekkidness ALWAYS has it's place . I really can't find a flaw in this film and highly suggest it to those that are interested in this era of underground films, or are just looking for a good, suspenseful crime/mystery style film...10/10
tackles very well the conflict of fundamentalist child raising and rebellion (by skizzoidkittie)
When I first read the summary for this movie I found it really peculiar that Jake was a Calvinist. Calvinism is a pretty strict view of Christianity and I think that is the reason this movie is partly so brilliant. I think few movies have dealt with the mentality of a strict Christian upbringing and the "surprising" rebellion of the child that is subject to it as realistically or as seedy as "Hardcore." First of all it totally is in the same vein, as far as setting goes, as Taxi Driver also written by Schrader . The movie is not afraid to show the peculiar and sometimes <more>
deranged side of seventies pornography. It creates an overall uncomfortable feeling, but in the way that is enlightening and eye opening. It is not only carefully respectful of Jake's orthodox beliefs, but it carefully depicts the young girl as being independent as well as very vulnerable. The further down she gets into the scene the more dangerous and the more malicious the pornographers become. The movie is never preachy in either direction and honestly shows humanity in all of the characters. Mainly Jake as he realizes he doesn't really see who his daughter is. He has overlooked her because he's been preoccupied with rules instead of feelings.If you love wood paneled walls and Peter Boyle then Hardcore is for you.
Prosperous Grand Rapids businessman Jake Van Dorn is played by George C. Scott, hooker and sometime porn actress Niki played by Season Hubley. They have moments in the movie when they talk, really talk, about what's important to them, to each other. And they evoke how much movie dialogue just recaps itself, before and since this film's unsullied, lively, sexual, fervent and artistically indispensable era. There's a scene in this sort of Taxi Driver counterpart---sharing with it a theme of a self-perceived man of purity exploring an undetected subculture---where Van Dorn, who is a <more>
stern Calvinist, and the prostitute, who began selling herself in her early teens, talk about sex, religion, and morality, and I'm virtually astounded by the conviction, idea and unadorned literary value in their words.This relationship, between two people with nothing in common, who meet at an intersection in a society where numerous have nothing in common, is at the core of the movie, and makes it crucial. It's headed and trailed by another of those plot ideas that Paul Schrader seems to create so effortlessly, but what makes it so riveting and risible is his injection of bona fide humor, understated, intermittent, and intermingled with the gravitas of his zealous hero's journey. His movies are about people with ideals, at odds with society. He wrote Taxi Driver and Rolling Thunder and helmed Blue Collar. All three are about people primed to preserve, perhaps with violence, their unwavering values. And in Hardcore's journey into hedonism, the purposefully peripheral nodding lechers and harlots who populate Schrader's L.A. loom to relegate the disparity between Van Dorn and the people he confronts to a circle of carnivalesque bane.Where Taxi Driver had an ominous New York denoting the world by never hazarding outside the boundaries of the city, Hardcore, by advantage of opening in Van Dorn's and Schrader's snowy hometown and having his teenage daughter waft into porn just after her youth group stops in California, entails that vice and degeneracy is a controlled germ. The opening scenes ensconce us in the family setting, at Christmas, with a substantial theological discussion going on around the dinner table. A few days later, Scott's daughter leaves home for a church rally in California. She never returns. Scott hires a private detective to attempt to locate her, and Boyle does find her, in an 8mm porno movie. Can it be tracked? "Nobody made it. Nobody sold it. Nobody sees it. It doesn't exist." Nevertheless Scott swears to pursuing his daughter into the sexual gangland and return and restore her. His labors to find her, through San Francisco, L.A. and San Diego, make Hardcore into a deviously intriguing guidebook expedition through massage parlors, whorehouses, and the world of porno movies. Schrader occasionally appears to be having it both ways, here: Scott is revolted by the sex scenes he deals with, but is the movie? That makes no difference after he meets Niki, who might know some people who might know where his daughter is. She is in several ways like all the other forlorn young girls who waft to California and vanish. But she has brains and a particular insight into why she does what she does, and so their dialogue together becomes opportunity for shared examination between characters whose likelihood of ever crossing paths is quite remote.She has a deep-rooted emotional requirement for a father figure, a basic she at first contemplates maybe Scott can meet. She also has insights into Scott's own moral fiber, insights his life hasn't before made apparent to him. There's a scene near the waterfront in San Diego that seamlessly elucidates both of their personalities, and we take in how uncommon it is for the movies to show us people who are speaking in genuine words about genuine things.The most shocking element of Hardcore, then, is not any of the squalidness it apparently renders, but rather Van Dorn's dedication to his creed, an attribute he shares with startlingly few white characters in the annals of American cinema taking into account that three quarters of the country distinguishes itself as "Christian." Though Hardcore's coarse imagery does have the force to disturb, it's because we're inherently receptive to their spiritual plaguing of Van Dorn. The images are always so interesting, and I think, more than the vigilant, realistic cinematography, it's George C. Scott himself. Character metamorphosis is what gratifies our most basic interests in stories, and in Hardcore, Scott's Jake DeVries goes through one of the great ones.Sometimes, just seeing the man we once saw emerge from a hard-line Five Point church pew in the Midwest with his horn-rimmed glasses, conservative suit and town car walking down the loitering central of southern California's bawdiest streets in a loud button-down, sunglasses and a black eye is enough aesthetic visual pleasure, more than the symmetry of a composition or the atmospheric color tints and sharp changes in camera speeds during the gripping, symbolically brilliant climax.
An extremely well made drama from Paul Schrader, although not nearly as powerful as his brilliant "Blue Collar". Suffers from an ending that lets down the investment you've put into the rest of the movie, but still a good movie. George C. Scott is excellent as the religious man caught in a world of sin. Has a good sense of humour as well, even if some of it is over the top.
Dated but still effectively powerful film (by sol-kay)
****SPOILERS**** George C. Scott, Jake Van Dorn, gives one of his best acting performances in "Hardcore". It's every bit as good as his role in "Patton" in this modern day version of the great John Ford Western "The Searchers" as the distraught and angry father searching for his missing and runaway daughter Kristen, Llah Davis. Powerful and riveting film builds up to a fever pitch as Jake goes into the bowels of hell in his desperate and emotional quest for his daughter in the dangerous and sleazily world of the legal as well as illegal porn industry. The <more>
scene, in an empty and darkened porno theater, where Jake was shown by private investigator Andy Mast, Peter Boyle, a clip of his daughter preforming sex acts on the screen was so powerful that it made you forget that you were actually watching a movie, not the real thing. An unsuspecting Jake, who had never seen a porno film before, went from bewilderment shock outrage and then became sickened and nauseated by what he saw, all this in just under two minutes of screen time, ranks right up there with the greatest and most unforgettable moments in motion picture history! Jake ends up finding his daughter but she was emotionally destroyed not only by the porno world that she was living in and was part off but also by her detachment and alienation from her very religious father's feelings for her. Jake is also faced with the fact that the world outside of his small and cloistered community in Grand Rapids Michigan is as different as the Earth is from the planet Pluto. After Jake's daughter Kristen disappeared from a trip with her classmates and members of the local Dutch Reformation Church Jake with the help of private investigator Andy Mast and local L.A hooker and part time porno actress Niki, Season Hubley, track her down in the red-light district of San Francisco. Jake is then shocked to find out that she left him because of his possessiveness and restrictions that he had on her and the friends that she choose. Even though the movie "Hardcore" is now a bit dated and the ending is a bit too pat and contrived in order for it to pull all the loose ends in the movie together and give the film a happy ending George C. Scott's Academy Award caliber acting in the film is good enough to make you overlook the movies many faults. Both Peter Boyle and Llah Davis are also very effective as the hired PI and Jake's missing daughter. I feel that the most sensitive as well as tragic acting in the film, on par with Mr. Scott, was that of Season Hubley, Niki, as the hooker who lead Jake to, in the end, find his daughter. Feeling that she had a chance of, with the help of Jake, leaving the life that she had in the porno world Niki sadly learned in the end of the movie that hope was nothing but a pipe dream. Knowing her helpless situation Niki sadly accepted the reality of her life in it. I feel that Jake's very emotional and truly touching final scene with Niki was far more gripping and heart-wrenching then the final scene that Jake had with his daughter Kristen and almost as good as the scene of Jake in the theater when he broke down from watching Kristen in a porno movie.
What's up with the low rating for this one? It's totally excellent. 10/10. In fact, it's almost better than Taxi Driver. Paul Schrader is a very talented clever director and writer. The main character in "Hardcore" looks so much like Dennis Hopper that it's almost spooky but one has to remind oneself that it is not Dennis Hopper. Anyway, I just think that this mans search for his lost daughter is one of the most exciting tasks ever seen in film. Surely this is a very important but overlooked picture. The point is not to "chock" by showing nudity or sex but <more>
to expose the suppression of the porn industry. I once heard that the two major industries in the world is weapons and pornography. Anyhow, this is an excellent movie juxtaposing the two very different worlds of American life.
Fitting into shoes you never thought you'd bring yourself to own (by StevePulaski)
Paul Schrader's Hardcore features a rare performance that tows the fine line between believable lunacy and cartoonish behavior that never crosses over and subjects itself to the latter. The performance is that of George C. Scott, who plays Jake Van Dorn, a Calvinist businessman working in Michigan and serving as a single-parent to his eighteen-year-old daughter Kristen. While presumably on a church retreat to Bellflower, California, Kristen never arrives at the event, leading Jake to hire a private investigator Peter Boyle to try and find her whereabouts. Eventually, the investigator <more>
finds an 8mm film of his daughter and two other men around her age; it's clear just from the first frame of the film, which Jake sees at a local seedy theater, his daughter is now a porn star.Jake loses it, with enough questions, assumptions, judgments, and miscalculations racing through his mind to cripple the psyche of a dozen men. He comes to the conclusion that his daughter had to have been kidnapped to join such an underworld, and becomes dedicated to bringing her back home. He dives into California's sleazy, pornographic underworld, venturing through brothels, adult bookstores, and peep shows to find her, eventually meeting Nikki Season Hubley , a porn star and hooker.Hardcore is the classic case of a character being immersed in a world he had no conception of and would've rather gone on pretending as if the world and all of those affected by it never existed. His tunnel-vision, conservative mindset has made it seem that since everything in his own life was perfect and completely free of any trouble, that there's no way anyone else's life could be troubled. He doesn't see problems, therefore none exist.Jake's rude awakening becomes more alarming with what he has to witness. To many audience members, presuming their braveness to already seek out such a peculiar film, the content in Hardcore isn't particularly jolting, but to Jake, it's some of the most revolting stuff he's seen in his entire life. Consider the discomfort and anxiety felt by Jake as he walks into a low-lit brothel, with pulsating, blood-red lights and wallpaper decorating the rooms and meets a young stripper, with a thick piece of glass separating them. The stripper plants both of her heels on the glass whilst sitting down, exposing her whole body for Jake's pleasure, as they communicate through the glass. Jake is beyond uncomfortable and is simply trying to get his daughter back, but in order to do so, he must subject himself to worlds he never thought could've existed.This kind of relativism makes for a deeply fascinating film, and in Schrader's screen writing and directing hands, Hardcore beams with life. Schrader includes a barrage of must-have locations for this kind of film, and captures them in a way that adheres to the principles of realism. Never does Schrader seem to go overboard in his depictions of this underworld, nor does he compromise Jake's character by making him unlikable. This is one of the first times I've seen such a close-minded, holier-than-thou, judgmental character on screen that I didn't detest; it's not entirely his fault he's been closeted to his own set of beliefs for so many years. He thought all was well and good.Scott captures this character so intensely that even his freakouts and mental breakdowns don't feel forced nor over-the-top. Scott eventually learns how to get ahead in this business, at one point going undercover as a director and interviewing male porn stars that could've perhaps had contact with his daughter. These scenes, when Scott dawns a wig, a fake mustache, and shag clothing, are completely transforming for his character, and we see a man's own personal ethics and values degrade throughout the entire film, in a slowburn fashion.Hardcore sizzles on screen, creating characters that exist, a fascinating underworld captured in details rather than in essences, and an impending sense of dread as time marches on and Jake's daughter's fate becomes more and more questionable. Much has been made about the finale, which is said to have been taken over by cautious studio executives rather than accurately reflecting the original vision of Schrader. For me, it works as a way to simmer down the film's explosiveness that it carries throughout, especially towards the end, as things intensify. The bittersweetness of the entire affair, in addition, compliments the film's nature of nothing ever totally being right or in place; not even in the beginning, as Jake is still so deeply lost in his own mannerisms.Starring: George C. Scott, Season Aubrey, and Peter Boyle. Directed by: Paul Schrader.