Cockfighter (Monte Hellman, 1974)

One of the unexpected pleasures of this film—whose milieu of fleabag hotels and dusty outdoor pits; of fighting and betting rituals surrounding mutually-assured avian destruction; of the intense loyalty of (male) hearts and eyes to said rituals and destruction—is the tender performance of Warren Oates. His character’s muteness enables the subtlest of his movements, the slightest of his facial expressions, to carry infinitely more weight than dialogue. By indicating surprise/bemusement/mystery in the raising of his eyebrows, conveying weariness/disgust/impatience in his side-arm throwing of a stone, or signifying wounded pride/resigned anger in his barely-there snarling and his kicking of an uncooperative bird, Oates creates emotions for which we don’t yet have words.

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2 Responses to Cockfighter (Monte Hellman, 1974)

  1. DonnachaC says:

    Beautifully put, I really love Cockfighter, its tender, peaceful, a little bitter, even more funny.

    It’s a cliche to say they dont make em like this anymore…but they don’t!

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