Written by / 7/02/2017 / No comments / , ,

EDGE OF GREATNESS ABOUT JAN-MICHAEL VINCENT REVIEWED

From VIGILANTE FORCE, one of many so-called forgotten films
"This is not a life," David Grove writes in the final page of his book, EDGE OF GREATNESS, about the eclectic acting career of Jan-Michael Vincent. "It's obvious now that he was not born; he was invented. I thought there would be more, but this is it. He got what he deserved."

Ouch! Especially coming from a talented author and film historian, bringing the reader back in time, through an endless ringer. It's lovely writing, but where's the love? There was obviously a lot "more" that Jan-Michael Vincent felt, and lived, and discovered, than could be conjured up "in your philosophy," as Shakespeare wrote of his narrow-minded Horatio. 

Ruling in BIG WEDNESDAY
Drinking and using drugs for several decades, can... and in Jan's case... did ruin a career. But, especially in the beginning, there's a lot of fun involved in doing all those bad things... 

For instance, as the average party-Joe spent meager paychecks on beer, kept a dime-bag in his tattered/torn pockets, and prayed for a semi-attractive girl... or for his own girlfriend to be more open-minded... he (or her) could never begin to realize what went on behind the scenes of the unimaginable "high life"... 

But this book doesn't delve into the glory of being a star because Jan-Michael Vincent, an A-List giant on a B-Movie Curve, is merely regarded as being on the EDGE, not the crest, OF GREATNESS...

There are specific and interesting details on the movies and television shows in Jan's career, ranging from DRAGNET to BUFFALO '66, and in that regard, it's a Cult Fan's wet-dream: a splendid "coloring book" that Jan's IMDb page could provide each outline for, and more of a JMV Companion than biography: But there are many of us... especially those yearning to read this, or any book about Jan-Michael Vincent... who think he was, in fact, truly great while it lasted. Or better put, while he lasted...

Jan-Michael clucks DEFIANCE
The descriptions of now-beloved cult movies like BIG WEDNESDAY merely skim the surface of their overall lasting effect on cinematic pop culture. The opinions of this film and several other ragged classics are all based on how each did at the box office, or what the critics thought, or how it either propelled or, in most cases, hindered Jan's predestined rise... 

For a nostalgically-based writer like David... who has a popular website catering to cult films and wrote a book about the first FRIDAY THE 13TH, which many people now find dated and boring... it might seem that this particular Edge would have more Greatness than otherwise. But the theme is not about Jan at the top of his game, or ever reaching that pinnacle... 

Instead, Jan never lives up to the expectations of those who helped him try becoming a star for the eventual sky falling to matter. As stated above, "He was not born; he was invented." Yet if he were anything but fantastic, there would be no book at all, or a need for one. David Grove's Jan-Michael Vincent seems more like a pigeon flopping in a beeline at treetop-level before being shot by a pellet gun than an archangel whose wings eventually gave out... 

JMVincent Biography Grade: B—
The author (using quotes from mostly obscure co-stars or directors who all basically say, "He was a drunk, and a drunk, and did I mention, he was drunk?") knows about Vincent's work, and, again, his writing is good. But what a shame that those wonderful movies, also including THE MECHANIC, DEFIANCE, HOOPER, BITE THE BULLET, DAMNATION ALLEY and VIGILANTE FORCE, aren't praised more for their endless cult-following, or hell, even camp value: Motion Pictures that a great number of fans enjoy to no end, and what filmmaking titans like Quentin Tarantino consider more influential than some of the flash-in-the-pan hits of that era.

In the feel-good sports flick, RUDY, about a little guy who struggles to get into Notre Dame to play on the famous football team, his employer tells him that while attempting his seemingly failed mission, he got a topnotch education along the way. Same could be said of Vincent, who never became as famous as his former co-star Harrison Ford or Jeff Bridges (which is mentioned several times throughout the book) but left a spectacular legacy on his own. And if he were merely an "Invention," or some kind of failed test tube hypothesis that never grew into a bonafide theory, so were all those films, and television shows, that will never go away. If every actor, actress, or rock star during Jan-Michael's era got what they "deserved" from reckless partying, we'd be left with Benji, Howdy Doody, and Mr. Rogers. 
Jan-Michael and LQ Jones and Martin Kove sigs on WHITE LINE FEVER and JMV signature on DAMNATION ALLEY
Epic BIG WEDNESDAY Japanese poster signed by almost everyone including JMV and JMV sig on BITE THE BULLET
Kino double with Jan-Michael and Rudy Ramos signatures on DEFIANCE with Jan, Loni Anderson & Andrew Stevens on VIGILANTE FORCE
The book's author David Grove mentions this HOTEL episode about homosexuality that Jan, a "closet Republican," probably didn't agree with
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