Eureka – tape 798

On this tape, BBC2’s Film Club presents Nicolas Roeg’s Eureka. A very strange film, with a chequered history involving changes in studio management, and lacklustre releasing. The introduction, by Nigel Andrews, features interviews with Roeg himself, his producer Jeremy Thomas, and the writer Paul Mayersberg. It’s a bit longer than these introductions usually are, but it’s interesting to hear about the problems with the film’s release.

As for the film itself, it’s another Roeg film that I can appreciate, but don’t enjoy very much.

Gene Hackman plays a man who finds gold in the Yukon, and becomes the richest man in the world. We first meet him while he’s prospecting, with two other people, who he’s now attacking, yelling “I’ve never made a nickel from another man’s sweat” after the other man has apparently suggested 50/50 split of anything they find. Being introduced to the character in this circumstance doesn’t make me warm to him.

He does strike gold later. I’m not convinced the film’s representation of a gold mine being discovered is entirely factually accurate.

The film cuts to many years later. Hackman has a grown up daughter, played by frequent Roeg collaborator and sometime wife Theresa Russell.

His wife is Jane Lapotaire.

There’s another appearance from Joe Pesci, playing a dodgy Miami businessman, who wants Hackman to invest in his business.

Mickey Rourke, back when he was young and beautiful, plays Pesci’s fixer.

Rutger Hauer plays Theresa Russell’s husband Claude. Hackman hates him, and that drives the basic animosity of the plot.

After a lot of family drama, a bit of racist voodoo dancing, and lots of shouting, Rourke and his men, including Joe Spinell, murder Hackman in his home. It’s hugely violent, including the profligate use of a welding torch to burn him.

After he’s dead, Hauer is on trial for his murder, because he was at the house too. One of the lawyers is played by Norman Beaton.

It’s definitely another film filled with people I really don’t like, doing unpleasant things to each other. I’m not overly surprised it wasn’t a hit.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 9th September 1989 – 22:35

After this, there’s a look ahead to Programmes on Sunday. Interesting to note that Moviedrome was already running. I had thought it effectively replaced Film Club.

Then BBC2 closes down.

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4 comments

  1. That’s a monster edition of Sunday Grandstand, going past 8pm. Due to Athletics from Barcelona starting at 5.50, according to BBC Genome.

  2. Never seen Eureka but heard Gene Hackman’s character murdered someone with an axe in it. Who would have thought he’d be in a film with Rutger Hauer? Ironically, back in the late ’70s, there were plans for a 3rd French Connection movie where Popeye Doyle would team up with a black cop played by Richard Pryor but Hackman wasn’t interested and the script slowly morphed into Nighthawks which starred Hauer as international terrorist Wulfgar. It’s a very good thriller.

  3. I like Eureka as long as it’s fretting over the price of avarice, but the courtroom stuff seems like an afterthought and kills the movie which had been getting along nicely beforehand. I believe it’s based on a true story. But it’s the last real “Roeg film” before he was reined in in his next projects, which are not as visually extravagant (though Castaway has its fans – it looks like he did it for the money and the holiday to me – and The Witches is fun).

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