Director: Monte Hellman
Year Released: 1974
Like a disgraced warrior, Warren Oates' character, who makes money off of cockfighting, takes a vow of silence after losing the medal for Cockfighter of the Year. This film is grim, contemptible, odious, nihilistic and crazed, it features disgusting characters whose means of making money is the moral equivalent of children strapping dynamite to cats ... but that's what makes it so real and so raw: its total refusal to relent or give in to the orthodox (the scene where Oates gives his girlfriend the head of the winning rooster - and looks completely convinced that she'll love him - is one of the great oddball love scenes). Hellman shows man, essentially at his worst and most primal state: the way men watch car races to see the vehicles crash or boxing to see blood and swollen faces. It shows them as money-hungry, loathsome barbarians and it dares the women to love them anyway. It's as grim a movie about human nature and the state of being a man as I've seen - it's not likeable or 'enjoyable,' but I can't help but believe that it's a little bit true.