Live + Sound + Cinema: ENTER THE DRAGON (1973, Robert Clouse)
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The character John Saxon was made to play is the dashing, daring scoundrel — and play that role he has, frequently; but the Brooklyn native, with his distinct eyebrows and razor-sharp jawline, pops up in all kinds of crazy B-movie rolls and never fails to liven up even the most dismal material. He’s fought Italian zombies, waged battles across the stars and played more cops and cowboys than you can count.
Below, our blog editors Kris King (@KrisKingTornado) and Caryn Coleman (@caryn_coleman) choose their favorite Saxon roles. One thing’s for certain: whether he’s working beside Bruce Lee or slumming it with Joe Don Baker, John “Action” Saxon is the man.
Dr. Marcello Bassi, The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963, Mario Bava)
John Saxon plays Italian doctor/cohort/lover to Leticia Roman’s American/crime-
Allan Brenner, Queen of Blood (1966, Curtis Harrington)
Alright, the title suggest a campy schlock fest and, in some ways, I suppose the film is just that but amped up a little. It recalls Bava’s Planet of the Vampires mixed with Soviet films and modern design and a very young Dennis Hopper. Saxon is one of the astronauts called to head out to Mars to check out an alien spaceship distress signal (once again saving the day).
Best scene: any scene he’s in a spacesuit with a confused look on that chiseled face. — CC
Roper, Enter the Dragon (1973, Robert Clouse)
His most famous role by a yard, Saxon’s all swagger as Enter the Dragon’s degenerate gambler with a heart. He and Jim Kelly spend most of the movie getting chummy with one-another, scamming people and nailing broads, while Bruce Lee’s left with all of the investigative heavy lifting. Still, Saxon can tussle, and despite some obvious stand-in usage, he’s able to fight alongside Bruce Lee without looking ridiculous.
Best scene: Taking down the film’s heavy, Bolo Yeung, with a choice kick to the groin. That’s the American way! — KK
Lt. Fuller, Black Christmas (1974, Bob Clark)
John Saxon stars in yet another of our all-time favorites: Bob Clark’s Black Christmas. This time he is the savvy policeman with swagger who helps a group of sorority sisters fight a mysterious prank caller and (wouldn’t you know) killer.
Best scene: when his idiot deputy gives him a phone number under the exchange ‘fellatio’ and Saxon breaks character a little bit in his justifiable laughter. — CC
Walter Deaney, Mitchell (1975, Andrew McLaglen)
John Saxon as bad guy. Saxon has been in some stinkers, for certain, but we have a certain affection for him in this chicken-fried Joe Don Baker action flick. He plays a dirty union lawyer who local law enforcement aren’t allowed to touch because the Federal prosecutors want him for themselves. As scummy as scummy gets, love it.
Best scene: “Wasn’t John Saxon in this movie?” You’ll most likely want to see Mitchell in its fantastic Mystery Science Theater 3000 form (one of the series’ best), but Saxon just kind of disappears from the show’s cut. In case you’re curious: he dies in a dune buggy crash. — KK
Lt. Don Thompson, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, Wes Craven)
Saxon’s characters in Black Christmas and A Nightmare on Elm Street are so similar that we like to pretend they’re the same person. First a yuletide sorority slasher, and then a dream demon; dude can’t seem to catch a break. Here he plays the father to the film’s Final Girl, Nancy, and mostly doles out bad advice. It’s hard being a horror movie cop.
Best scene: I actually can’t think of one. He comes back in Nightmare 3 though and gets stabbed by a stop-motion Freddy skeleton. That’s pretty cool. — KK