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Cinematic One-Hit Wonders 
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Post Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
While writing up a Cool Hand Luke thread, I realized I didn't know anything about director Stuart Rosenberg's later career. A quick IMDB search revealed that there was a reason for that: the man did almost nothing remotely worth mentioning after his masterpiece. That got me thinking: what other cinematic one-hit wonders are there out there?

I'm thinking mainly directors, but actors work too on occasion. My first experience, for instance, with Burt Reynolds was with Boogie Nights. I was blown away and assumed that he was a great old actor. Subsequent watchings of other films in his oeuvre, however, have regrettably shown me that he's in fact a sentient mustache who doesn't bother to act. But man is he good in Boogie Nights.

So who else do we have?

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Sat Aug 07, 2010 10:40 pm
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Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
I can see most people bringing up Kate Hudson's name in this thread(I personally think she's actually a decent actress who dosen't choose the best films, though I would like to see her give another performance like she did in Almost Famous) My pick would be Hilary Swank who got lucky with Million Dollar Baby(which I didn't like much and I thought her Oscar win was a fluke) and so far hasn't come close to achieving that same suceess. Ironically the film of hers I enjoy the most is the one that gets the most hate-Next Karate Kid, laugh if you will but IMO she really redeemed that series after the throughly mediocre part 3, I found her character to be infinitely more interesting and far more compelling then Ralph Macchio's character ever was. I was really looking forward to seeing her in more films after that one, but after seeing more of her films, I was pretty dissapointed as she just didn't come across as very convincing in any of her other films that I saw(I never saw Boys Don't Cry BTW)especially in P.S. I Love You and The Reaping(there's also the Core, but at least there she seemed to realize how stupid the film itself was)where she gave the impression that she was only there for a paycheck, and in her dramatic roles, she always seems like she's trying way too hard and she just can't seem to sell a dramatic scene. Though I do have some hope for her as her next two films-The Resident and Conviction look pretty interesting and i'm hoping that she'll surprise me in those films.


Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:26 pm
Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
Burt Reynolds was very good in 'Deliverance'. It is also, perhaps even more importantly, the best role he has ever been given, as it not only anticipates his later career but pokes ironic and merciless fun at it.


As for one-hit wonder directors, a few come immediately to mind:


John McNaughton - dir. 'Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer', followed by Bill Murray and Robert DeNiro ruining comedy in the painfully mediocre 'Mad Dog And Glory'.
Todd Solondz - dir. 'Happiness' remains his only essential feature, garbage sequel not withstanding.
Peter Jackson - dir. 'Meet The Feebles', since there is no way he's the same person who directed the relentlessly tasteful 'Lord Of The Rings' trilogy. He has obviously been murdered and is being paraded around as a clever guise by a hack director trying to distance themselves from their checkered film past. Nice try, Wim Wenders.
Kevin Smith - dir. 'Clerks'; For more insight on my stand, please give a click - http://philius-1987.blogspot.com/2010/06/kevin-smith-sleazy-bawdy-and-totally.html

No use being so right twice.



P.S. Vexer - Try 'Boys Don't Cry' sometime. Ms. Swank has less than nothing to prove to you.


Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:35 pm
Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
While some other films have their small merits, I don't think anything John Singleton has done touches Boyz N the Hood, a modern masterwork.


Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:00 am
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Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
Evenflow8112 wrote:
P.S. Vexer - Try 'Boys Don't Cry' sometime. Ms. Swank has less than nothing to prove to you.


Yeah I'm perfectly happy calling Ms. Swank a two-hit wonder, but definitely not just a one-hit, because fuck is she great in Boys Don't Cry.

Evenflow8112 wrote:
Todd Solondz - dir. 'Happiness' remains his only essential feature, garbage sequel not withstanding.


Oh come on! After Show Me Love, Welcome to the Dollhouse is the best movie about young people. Essential viewing!

Evenflow8112 wrote:
John McNaughton - dir. 'Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer', followed by Bill Murray and Robert DeNiro ruining comedy in the painfully mediocre 'Mad Dog And Glory'.


I would have agreed with you, but then I saw Normal Life. Incidentally, Michael Rooker from "Henry" was certainly a one-hit wonder.

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Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:06 am
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Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
I'll probably see Boys Don't Cry eventually, though it's not exactly high on my list.


Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:25 am
Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
JamesKunz wrote:
Evenflow8112 wrote:
John McNaughton - dir. 'Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer', followed by Bill Murray and Robert DeNiro ruining comedy in the painfully mediocre 'Mad Dog And Glory'.


I would have agreed with you, but then I saw Normal Life. Incidentally, Michael Rooker from "Henry" was certainly a one-hit wonder.



For your latter two posts I offer this dictum: 'Welcome To The Dollhouse' and 'Normal Life' (which is, indeed, good and features Luke Perry's outrageously successful and underrated transition from TV drama to hard-core filmmaking*) are two very good films which are dwarfed in every technical category by each respective director's best work.

My perspective is that, while you can argue whether or not 'Taxi Driver', 'Raging Bull', or 'Goodfellas' are Scorsese's best films, such an argument does not exist for a one-hit wonder, who has essentially made one film that shines more brightly than any other work they have made, whether or not that work is of respectable quality, and stands with little competition as being their 'essential' film. 'Normal Life' is very good but I would never pick it over 'Henry', which is as disturbing if not more, but also unexpectedly moving and darkly humorous. I think it is a minor masterpiece of film with a few scenes that are too perfect to be viewed without a mounting sense of ironic joy (expressed, of course, in total horror and discomfort). And 'Happiness' is much better of a motion picture (genre labels aside) than Solondz's admittedly exceptional 'Welcome To The Dollhouse' almost in uniformity; it's difficult to think of more than one area where the latter film trumps the former.


Surprisingly, with both 'Paris, Texas', and 'Wings Of Desire' under his belt, the jokingly aforementioned Wim Wenders is forever excluded from this club; I'm not even sure the two films can be compared, nevertheless ranked in his filmography in a way that approaches the definitive.


* - Featured even more compellingly in the dark-as-coffee TV drama 'Oz'.


Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:35 am
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Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
Evenflow8112 wrote:
For your latter two posts I offer this dictum: 'Welcome To The Dollhouse' and 'Normal Life' (which is, indeed, good and features Luke Perry's outrageously successful and underrated transition from TV drama to hard-core filmmaking*) are two very good films which are dwarfed in every technical category by each respective director's best work.

My perspective is that, while you can argue whether or not 'Taxi Driver', 'Raging Bull', or 'Goodfellas' are Scorsese's best films, such an argument does not exist for a one-hit wonder, who has essentially made one film that shines more brightly than any other work they have made, whether or not that work is of respectable quality, and stands with little competition as being their 'essential' film. 'Normal Life' is very good but I would never pick it over 'Henry', which is as disturbing if not more, but also unexpectedly moving and darkly humorous. I think it is a minor masterpiece of film with a few scenes that are too perfect to be viewed without a mounting sense of ironic joy (expressed, of course, in total horror and discomfort). And 'Happiness' is much better of a motion picture (genre labels aside) than Solondz's admittedly exceptional 'Welcome To The Dollhouse' almost in uniformity; it's difficult to think of more than one area where the latter film trumps the former.


Part of our problem seems to be that you're talking about "Filmmakers who have one film that towers above the rest" whereas I'm talking about one-hit wonders. To me, Welcome to the Dollhouse is a minor masterpiece and Normal Life is quietly exceptional. Now it does seem that I esteem them slightly higher than you do, but nonetheless you agree they're worthy films. Therefore, as far as I'm concerned, they have avoided the one-hit stigma. Both directors have two films I would heartily recommend to someone, even if each of them has made only one truly iconic film. Like Jason Reitman. Sure Juno and Up in the Air haven't touched upon the sublime wonderfulness that is Thank You For Smoking, but he's still not a one-hit wonder because those other two films are pretty good.

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Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:46 am
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Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
I'm with Kunzie: Welcome To The Dollhouse is a towering achievement, and one of the best debut films I've ever seen.

To answer the question: Perry Henzell did some film work after he directed The Harder They Come, but never came near repeating the artistic success of that film.

And of course, there's always Charles Laughton and The Night of the Hunter...the only film he ever directed.

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Sun Aug 08, 2010 1:02 am
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Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
I'm still waiting for Tim Roth to make another film after his towering achievement The War Zone.


Sun Aug 08, 2010 1:10 am
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Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
The first name that came to mind was Rufus Sewell from Dark City. Sure, he's never stopped working, but this will be his zenith. Another name that comes to mind, and I'm probably jumping the gun here, is Charlize Theron nailing the lead role in Monster.

Also, agree with Kevin Smith and John Signleton on the director front.


Last edited by DylnFan96818 on Sun Aug 08, 2010 1:56 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Aug 08, 2010 1:53 am
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Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
JJoshay wrote:
I'm still waiting for Tim Roth to make another film after his towering achievement The War Zone.


Good call there, incredible film.

I'd add Scott Frank to that respectable list, it's no secret I'm a huge fan of The Lookout, I'm waiting anxiously for his second film.

I'd add Andrew Niccol to this list. Gattaca was a near-masterpiece of a sci-fi film and what has he done since? S1m0ne and the very average Lord of War? Hmm....

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Sun Aug 08, 2010 1:56 am
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Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
I'd also throw in the Hughes Brothers, you'll rarely hear Dead Presidents mentioned in the same breath as Menace II Society.


Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:26 am
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Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
DunkinDan89 wrote:
JJoshay wrote:
I'm still waiting for Tim Roth to make another film after his towering achievement The War Zone.


Good call there, incredible film.

I'd add Scott Frank to that respectable list, it's no secret I'm a huge fan of The Lookout, I'm waiting anxiously for his second film.

I'd add Andrew Niccol to this list. Gattaca was a near-masterpiece of the sci-fi film and what has he done since? S1m0ne and the very average Lord of War? Hmm....


Great call with Gattaca. Love that film.

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Sun Aug 08, 2010 8:50 am
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Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
Hilary Swank is good in Insomnia and Freedom Writers as well as her two Oscar-winning roles.

Along the lines of Charles Laughton, Jocelyne LaGarde was nominated for an Oscar for her only film appearance (in Hawaii), and I thought Eminem was very good in 8 Mile. To which we should probably add Allakariallak for Nanook of the North. I was going to add Natar Ungalaaq for Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) but he's been in other things I haven't seen and it's hard to tell how good an actor he is anyway.

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Sun Aug 08, 2010 11:09 am
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Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
Tom Hanks did That Thing You Do which, appropriately enough, is about a one-hit wonder band.

Dominc Sena's Kalifornia pretty much caps his directing career, unless you're a big Gone in 60 Seconds fan.

Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez' Blair Witch Project is pretty much all they ever did.


Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:06 am
Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
MunichMan wrote:
Tom Hanks did That Thing You Do which, appropriately enough, is about a one-hit wonder band.

Dominc Sena's Kalifornia pretty much caps his directing career, unless you're a big Gone in 60 Seconds fan.

Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez' Blair Witch Project is pretty much all they ever did.
Meh, Kalifornia didn't do much for me, Gone In 60 Seconds was decent enough, but why no love for Swordfish?


Tue Aug 10, 2010 2:26 am
Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
Vexer wrote:
I'd also throw in the Hughes Brothers, you'll rarely hear Dead Presidents mentioned in the same breath as Menace II Society.


You liked Menace? I'm somewhat shocked by that one?


Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:24 am
Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
Vexer wrote:
MunichMan wrote:
Tom Hanks did That Thing You Do which, appropriately enough, is about a one-hit wonder band.

Dominc Sena's Kalifornia pretty much caps his directing career, unless you're a big Gone in 60 Seconds fan.

Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez' Blair Witch Project is pretty much all they ever did.
Meh, Kalifornia didn't do much for me, Gone In 60 Seconds was decent enough, but why no love for Swordfish?


I hope you're kidding. Apart from Halle Berry's breasts, Swordfish was horrible. Razzie-worthy horrible. And with a 25% on the Tomatometer (for what it's worth) I'm definitely not alone in that opinion.

I thought Kalifornia was excellent.


Tue Aug 10, 2010 4:55 am
Post Re: Cinematic One-Hit Wonders
Sad to say but M. Night Shyamalan is rapidly going that direction.

I had thought of Peter Billingsley, but he's been pretty busy since he made his splash.

Most of the child cast of Willie Wonka ('71).

My crystal ball tells me Gabourey Sidibe will be an answer to a trivia question in 10 years too.


Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:26 am
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