walkenchronicles

Think of this as a guide through each of Christopher Walken's films, starting with his first and moving forward. Each review will provide analysis, factoids and opinion on the ninety-plus films in his career.

The Ghosts

There are a handful of ‘ghosts’ in Walken’s Filmography. Spooky? No. Sad.

Mostly, they are side-lined and forgotten tv and short-film projects never made available to the public except perhaps broadcast once on tv, like 40 years ago. And never seen again. Except on lists.

I’ve never seen any of these, so they won’t get individual entries on my list, but let me give them some time right here. Perhaps as things surface online, and things get found, digitalized and uploaded, perhaps I will get the chance to watch some of these. Until then this will have to do.

Walken and Close in Sarah Plain and Tall

The Hallmark Hall of Fame series claims responsibility for several of these lost souls. In fact, Walken has had a long relationship with the HHoF. In addition to starring with Glenn Close in the SARAH PLAIN AND TALL trilogy (which I have seen and will cover properly) begun in the early 90s, Walken was in a handful of other less well-known HHoF episodes back as early as 1966.

  • FUN FACT: The HHoF is the longest-running primetime series in the history of television (1951-current). Take that, Simpsons!

In 1966, a 23 y.o. Christopher Walken appeared in an HHoF historical drama called BAREFOOT IN ATHENS about the trial of Socrates.

Walken plays Lamprocles, Socrates’ eldest son.

In Walken’s official filmography, BAREFOOT is the first entry and so it’s sometimes regarded by some to be Walken’s film debut. However, this is television. It has the look of theater that has been recorded, and it is a mere 76 minutes long. Not feature-length at all. It may be splitting hairs, but until it becomes available to watch, it remains a moot point.

A few years later, Walken had a supporting role in a re-telling of the swashbuckling classic THE THREE MUSKETEERS. It was broadcast once in 1969 for Canadian television, and never seen again. Really.

Then in 1975 Walken did another 75 minute Hallmark HoF-episode called VALLEY FORGE, playing a minor character called The Hessian, in a dramatization of George Washington’s strife during the Revolutionary War.

Young Walken in his first short film

Young Walken in his first short film

There are a few other items of note in Walken’s early years amidst a bunch of television. When he was just a lad of twelve or thirteen, he was in a short-film called THE BOY WHO SAW THROUGH (1956) about a child with x-ray vision. This is a live-action film directed by Mary Ellen Bute, who was one of the first female experimental filmmakers. Ever. She was a pioneer in animation, and abstract ‘visual music’. She made this live-action short at the end of her film career, right before doing a Finnegan’s Wake film. I’d love to see all of this.

In 1970, Walken had a nameless part in Michel Auder’s CLEOPATRA, a kind of debauched, psychodelic, improvisational, Andy-Warhol-ian film. Auder never finished it, supposedly because of a fight with his producers, and for a while it was thought lost, and according to the director “only survives now as an uncut degraded copy of the original.”

Jump ahead to 2001. In Walken’s first and only attempt at directing, POPCORN SHRIMP is a 5 minute short starring Ralph “The Karate Kid” Macchio, and rapper/actor Master P. It was shown on Showtime once or twice, but can’t seem to find it on youtube or anything. Drop me a line if you (hey you out there) find a clip, or a link, or whatever.

Walken supposedly said it was “awful”, and I’m powerfully inclined to believe him, but then again Walken’s never been good at judging his own work. If I ever get a chance to watch it, I’ll let you know, NBD.

Then in 2002, Walken was the voice of a little girl’s magical toy firetruck, in a 17 minute short film called ENGINE TROUBLE. It is part of a Showtime collection of other short films and documentaries focused on the 9/11 incident called Reflections From Ground Zero.

Lastly, there is a movie credit in 2011 for Walken’s performance in an indie horror film known as EVIL CALLS: THE RAVEN (aka THE LEGEND OF HARROW WOODS). From what I can gather, Walken is never seen in the film. You hear him recite the famous Edgar Allan Poe poem The Raven, as he did for the audio CD Closed on Account of Rabies. It’s good stuff, but it is unclear whether the director re-recorded Walken reading the poem or if he just used the same track that’s on the CD.

Walken art by Martynas Juchnevicus

Either way, with the possible exception of Riki “Drop Dead Fred” Mayall,this film looks terrible, and the Walken-factor is redundant. If you want to hear Walken “Quoth the Raven” just get the Closed on Account… CD. It’s full of great voices reading Poe’s works.

That’s it for now.

But if you’re still squawkin’ for more Walken, check out this art that people from all over have created to celebrate the magnificence that is Walken.

Or go to my List of Walken Films and see if anything tickles your tits.

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