For me, one of the unexpected high points during this year's Best of QT Fest in Austin was the 1974 movie The Dion Brothers, also known as The Gravy Train. The movie was directed by the late Jack Starrett, whose birthday is today (along with my own). Starrett's other films include Hollywood Man, which also screened at Best of QT Fest, and Cleopatra Jones. You might have spotted him as a supporting character in a Sixties or Seventies film: Gabby Johnson in Blazing Saddles is probably his most recognizable role.
My favorite part of The Dion Brothers is the first scene, pictured above, in which Calvin Dion (Stacey Keach) decides he's had enough of his factory job and rants in a manner that rivals Howard Beale in Network. Beale never bellowed "I'm f---in' Kirk Douglas!" in that memorable way, either. However, the rest of The Dion Brothers is also lively and hilarious. Calvin recruits his little brother Rut (Frederic Forrest) to join him in organizing a number of profitable crime sprees, which will raise money for them to open the fanciest seafood restaurant ever (with a list of incredibly awful-sounding menu items). Their first attempt at robbery doesn't go quite the way they intended, and they end up entangled with one of those flaky females that are sadly popular in Seventies films, played by Margot Kidder. The climactic sequence, in a building that's being demolished, is truly intense. And did I mention that the script was co-written by Terrence Malick? I wonder if he's responsible for the movie's quantity of quotable one-liners.
Sadly, The Dion Brothers isn't available on DVD at this time, although I've heard that you can find some clips from the film on YouTube. Otherwise, you'll just have to hope that Quentin Tarantino shows up in your town with his print of the film.
[Special thanks to Blake of Rare Movie Images, who found this photo for me at my special request.]