(France - 1984; US release 1985)
Directed by Yves Boisset. Written by Jean Herman, Michel Audiard, Dominique Roulet, Serge Korber and Yves Boisset. Cast: Lee Marvin, Miou-Miou, Jean Carmet, Victor Lanoux, Tina Louise, Henri Guybet, Pierre Clementi, Jean-Pierre Kalfon, David Bennent, Bernadette Lafont, Grace De Capitani, Muni, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Juliette Mills, Julian Bukowski, Jean-Roger Milo, Joseph Momo. (Unrated, 99 mins)
I'm pretty sure that Lightning Video VHS box with the art you see to the left was in every video store in America in the 1980s. I picked it up and looked at it approximately 85,000 times during those long gone days of old, but only now have I finally gotten around to the utterly deranged DOG DAY. And shame on me for neglecting this bonkers French gem that's long been a public domain mainstay on discount store DVD racks or in any number of low-quality "50 Action Hits!" sets, and is available in a shitty, cropped print on Amazon, but is just out in a restored and properly 2.35:1-framed Blu-ray from Kino Lorber (because physical media is dead). This is one of those weird movies that hasn't exactly been hard to find but has spent decades stealthily flying under the radar, and if there's any cult that's formed around this jaw-dropper, then they've successfully kept it to themselves. Based on a novel by Jean Vautrin (the literary pen name of FAREWELL, FRIEND/HONOR AMONG THIEVES director Jean Herman), and directed and co-written by journeyman Yves Boisset (THE FRENCH CONSPIRACY, THE PURPLE TAXI), DOG DAY is what might happen if you took the kind of Sebastian Japrisot-styled French crime thriller that Charles Bronson made in the early '70s (RIDER ON THE RAIN, COLD SWEAT, SOMEONE BEHIND THE DOOR, etc) and put it in the hands of Tobe Hooper circa THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE or Wes Craven around the time of THE HILLS HAVE EYES. The end result in some ways resembles a French SONNY BOY but with a classier pedigree, and with its effective, Italian-sounding electronic score by Francis Lai (an Oscar-winner for his work on LOVE STORY), it wouldn't take much tweaking to turn DOG DAY into either a Fabrizio De Angelis actioner from the period or even an outright horror movie (I'm willing to bet that FRONTIER(S) director Xavier Gens is a fan). But it's very often darkly funny since you spend much of the time staring in incredulous dismay at the freakshow unfolding before your eyes, echoing the reaction of a fugitive American criminal played by the legendary Lee Marvin in one of his last films, and easily the weirdest one of his career.
THE DIRTY DOZEN: THE NEXT MISSION. His final screen appearance came a year later, co-starring with Chuck Norris in the 1986 Cannon favorite THE DELTA FORCE. He died of a heart attack in 1987.