Stop! (unreleased Bill Gunn film; 1970)

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StopPoster.jpeg

Poster for the film Stop! featuring Anna Aires and Edward Bell.

Status: Lost

Stop! is a film directed by Bill Gunn, starring Marlene Clark, Anna Aries, and Edward Michael Bell. The film dealt with the frank issues of marriage, infidelity, and marital dysfunction. It's cinematographer, Owen Roizman, received an Oscar for his work on The French Connection. After receiving an X rating, it played rural theaters in the Continental US around 1972 before disappearing. It would not be shown again in 35mm until 1989, following the passing of Bill Gunn.

Stills from the film Stop! shared by actor Sam Waymon in 2019.

Synposis

Michael (Edward Bell) and Lee Berger (Linda Marsh) are an unhappily married couple looking to rekindle the spark in their marriage. After moving to Puerto Rico to live in a house Michael inherited from his brother (who killed himself after murdering his wife), they decide to try swinging, with disastrous results. The wounds in their marriage begin to open up, as each character becomes slowly undone mentally over the course of the film. However, while their personalities may clash, their bond is unbreakable.

Last Known Screenings

After Bill Gunn's death in 1989, The Whitney Museum of Art organized a screening of Stop! in 1990 for it's New American Film & Video series.[1] It would not be screened again until April 4th, 2010, when Brooklyn Arts Museum showed a VHS copy of Stop! at a free screening. The film hasn't been seen since.

Rights Dispute

Rumors have sufficed over the years that Warner Brothers had disagreements with Bill Gunn over edits done to the film and as a result, several contracts for the film's principal performers contained errors or were lost. In addition to this, the film received an X rating from the MPAA. As a result, this leads to the film being released briefly and then disappearing until a print re-emerged in 1989 and was screened at the Whitney to honor Bill Gunn posthumously.

However, on March 30th, 2018, user Dentists on the Criterion Forums clarified that according to Warner Bros, they had struggled to re-release the film due to the failure of establishing the musical rights of background music in the film.[2] According to Warner Bros, the film contains scenes of street performers and musicians that appear in the background of the film but are uncredited. A meeting was formally organized with "big wigs" regarding the release of the film to see if they could identify the music, but they were unsuccessful.

In 2019, actor Sam Waymons (best known for his role in Ganja & Hess) urged fans to write to Warner Brothers to let them know they are interested in seeing Stop! distributed.[3]

References