Hardcore (1979 film)
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|Directed by||Paul Schrader|
|Produced by||Buzz Feitshans
|Written by||Paul Schrader|
|Starring||George C. Scott
|Music by||Jack Nitzsche|
|Edited by||Tom Rolf|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|February 9, 1979 (USA)|
Hardcore is a 1979 American crime drama film written and directed by Paul Schrader and starring George C. Scott, Peter Boyle and Season Hubley. The story concerns a father searching for his daughter, who has vanished only to appear in a pornographic film. Writer-director Schrader had previously written the screenplay for Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, and both films share a theme of exploring an unseen subculture.
Jake Van Dorn (George C. Scott) is a prosperous local businessman in Grand Rapids, Michigan who has strong Calvinist convictions. A single parent, Van Dorn is the father of a seemingly quiet, conservative teenage girl, Kristen, who inexplicably disappears when she goes on a church-sponsored trip to Bellflower, California. Andy Mast (Peter Boyle), a strange private investigator from Los Angeles, is then hired to find her, eventually turning up an 8mm stag film of his daughter with two young men.
Van Dorn then suspects that his daughter was kidnapped and forced to join California's porno underworld. His quest to rescue her takes him on an odyssey through this sleazy adult subculture.
With no results from the PI, the police, or even from Los Angeles' sex shop keepers and "rap parlor" women, a desperate Van Dorn ends up posing as a pornography producer in the Los Angeles Free Press, hoping to find information about his daughter. A scraggly actor named "Jism Jim", who was in the film with Kristen, knows where she might be and sends him to a sometime porno actress/hooker named Niki (Season Hubley). Van Dorn hires Niki to accompany him on the search for Kristen. Chasing a rumor that Kristen was now filming porn in Mexico, their uneasy alliance moves from Los Angeles to San Diego, gradually warming up to each other: Niki feels protected by Van Dorn because he is a man who doesn't see her as merely a sex object, and he is able to speak openly to her about his deepest feelings, such as his wife leaving him. The unlikely pair ends in San Francisco where Van Dorn finds that Kristen may be in the hands of Ratan, a very dangerous S & M porn player who deals in the world of "snuff movies". Yet when Niki refuses to give the address of a porn industry player to Van Dorn, he loses his temper and strikes her. He immediately regrets his action, but the rapport between Van Dorn and Niki is clearly damaged.
Van Dorn finds the player, "Tod", in a bondage house and forces Tod to tell him where Ratan hangs out. Van Dorn and Mast track Ratan to a nightclub where he and Kristen are observing a live sex show. When Van Dorn confronts Ratan, Kristen flees and Ratan slashes Van Dorn with a knife. Mast shoots and kills Ratan. Van Dorn tells Kristen he'll take her home from the people he believes forced her into pornography. However, she responds with anger, stating that she entered porn of her own free will as a way to rebel against her conservative upbringing and now felt loved and appreciated in a way that the emotionally distant Van Dorn never offered. Despondent and tearful, Van Dorn promises to leave her alone if she truly prefers, but she relents and says she wants him to stay. The film ends on a bittersweet note: there is hope that father and daughter can repair their relationship, but Niki refuses to speak to Van Dorn and walks away, clearly resigned to her life on the streets as it is the only life she has.
- George C. Scott – Jake VanDorn
- Peter Boyle – Andy Mast
- Season Hubley – Niki
- Dick Sargent – Wes DeJong
- Leonard Gaines – Ramada
- Dave Nichols – Kurt (as David Nichols)
- Gary Graham – Tod (as Gary Rand Graham)
- Larry Block – Detective Burrows
- Marc Alaimo – Ratan
- Leslie Ackerman – Felice
- Charlotte McGinnis – Beatrice (as Charlotte McGinnes)
- Ilah Davis – Kristen VanDorn
- Paul Marin – Joe VanDorn
- Will Walker – Jism Jim
- Hal Williams – Big Dick Blaque
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Warren Beatty originally wanted to play the lead, but, according to director Paul Schrader, "he wouldn't take me as a director. And in his version, it would have been his wife, not his daughter, who split for the Coast. No good. I held out. I turned down a very large sum of money. I went after [George C.] Scott and I got him. One of the greatest actors in the world.”
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Hardcore earned mostly positive reviews, with an 84% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite arguing that the climax lapses into action film cliches, Roger Ebert nonetheless gave the movie a four-out-of-four star review for its "moments of pure revelation," particularly in the scenes between Scott and Hubley.
- Kevin Jackson (ed.), Schrader on Schrader and Other Writings, Faber & Faber, 2004 (ISBN 0-571-22176-9).
- "Hardcore Movie Review & Film Summary (1979)". Chicago Sun-Times. January 1, 1979.
- "IMDb.com: Awards for Hardcore". imdb.com. Retrieved 2010-08-14.