The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

the man who fell to earth

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review:  Alien looking for water.

Thomas Newton Bryce (David Bowie) is a humanoid alien that has come to earth looking for water to bring back to his drought stricken planet. He works under the disguise as an inventor who uses the advanced technical knowledge of his home planet to patent many new inventions that eventually turns him into a millionaire head of a giant conglomerate. He even meets Mary Lou (Candy Clark) a hard-living, earthy girl who he falls in love with. Fuel technician Nathan Byrce (Rip Torn) suspects that Thomas may not be human and takes a secret picture of him with an X-ray camera that reveals his alien make up. Nathan then tips off the government and when Thomas tries to return to his home planet in a spaceship he built himself he is seized and taken into captivity and interrogated.
Director Nicolas Roeg has always had an incredible visual flair and able to take simple stories like Walkabout and Don’t Look Now and turned them into flashy masterpieces. I admire the way he can create atmosphere and attitude with every shot and tell a narrative in fragments and yet still have it come together into a fluid whole.

Watching this movie is particularly fun and the variety of music used is terrific. Whether it is a country oldie or new wave techno it fits and is always lively. The scenes are intoxicating and Roeg seems to be challenging himself by trying to come up with a unique way of capturing everything he shoots.

However, the story is light and proves to get even lighter as it goes along. The first hour, although fun, goes nowhere. The second half has some twists, but they are predictable. There are also tons and tons of loopholes with a letdown of an ending that explains nothing.

When compared to sci-fi films from the past it seems progressive, but in hindsight it is a victim of the 70′s era as it oozes too much with the irreverence of that period. Its main purpose seems to be turning-the- tables on all those sci-fi classics where the alien was always the threat by instead portraying the alien as the gentlest person in the picture. Yet they still could have made this message while giving it a more fleshed-out story and legitimate sci-fi leanings.

The overall glossiness maybe enough for some as it certainly does seem intriguing and promising at the start. Bowie is a perfect choice for the lead and unlike most rock singers, his foray into acting seems solid and almost like he is a natural.

Candy Clark is also outstanding. She is the perfect embodiment of a small town southern girl simple, sweet and generous yet also very to-the-point. Buck Henry is also good playing a part that most resembles his true self and his line describing his father’s advice on how to look a gift horse in the mouth is priceless.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: May 28, 1976

Runtime: 2Hours 19Minutes

Rated R

Director: Nicolas Roeg

Studio: Columbia

Available: VHS, DVD-R, Amazon Instant Video

The President’s Analyst (1967)

The presidents analyst 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Analyst on the run.

Dr. Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn) is a well-regarded therapist who gets offered the job as personal analyst to the President. At first Sidney is greatly honored, but eventually realizes that he may have taken on more than he bargained for. For one thing he must be on call to see the President at any hour of the day or night. Then he is forced to break-up with his girlfriend Nan (Joan Delaney) because it is found that he talks in his sleep and may be inadvertently giving away state secrets. When he tries to quit his job he finds himself being chased by government agents as well as spies from other countries intent on using or even killing him because of his perceived inside knowledge.

The film’s biggest achievement is writer/director Theodore J. Flicker’s visual flair where he uses every chance he can to enhance a scene by adding some interesting cinematic touches. For instance the part where Sidney talks with his mentor (Will Geer) about taking the job while looking at some weird art exhibits helps add an offbeat touch to a conversation that otherwise is rather ordinary. I also liked the throwaway segment showing Sidney walking by New York’s landmarks including the Brooklyn Bridge and even standing at the torch of the Statue of Liberty. These scenes don’t necessarily progress the plot, but help add flavor and mood and something a lesser director might not even consider. Sometimes it’s the little things that get added to the picture that make it special and Flicker shows a good understanding of that and it’s unfortunate that he left Hollywood in the early 80’s to devout full attention to his award-winning sculpting as I think he had the potential for making a lot more interesting films.

The comedy itself is quite funny and most importantly very original. Watching all the different foreign spies end up killing each other while also trying to nab Sidney as he hangs out undercover with a rock band is creative. The best part though is when he gets kidnapped while inside a phone booth and taken by truck to an underground headquarters where he is interrogated while still remaining locked in the booth.

The film offers a chance at seeing Barry McGuire best known for his 60’s rock song ‘Eve of Destruction’ in a rare acting role as a guitarist in a rock band. Godfrey Cambridge is quite engaging as an American spy and I loved how he was secretly friends with his Russian counterpart Kydor played by Severn Darden. Jill Banner who gave a hypnotic performance in the cult classic Spider Baby is seen here as a groupie named Snow White.

The film’s only real transgression is the fact that we never see the President or Sidney’s sessions with him. I believe this was because at the time there was still some respect for the position and the filmmaker’s didn’t want to completely devalue it by portraying some nut in the office, but it still seemed to miss out on some great comical potential as well as making the viewer feel that they are being a bit cheated. I also didn’t think that the President would have discussed important government affairs or foreign policy with his analyst like he supposedly does here. I would have thought that he would have been so burned out talking about that stuff that he would have wanted to discuss more personal issues that had nothing to do with politics.

At times this film borders on getting a bit too wacky and out-of-control. This type of idea could have been taken in a wide array of different directions and there were moments where I wished it had been a little more reeled in and subtle, but it always manages to save itself by constantly coming up with unique and funny segments.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: December 21, 1967

Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Theodore J. Flicker

Studio: Paramount

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube

Labyrinth (1986)

labyrinth 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Lost in a maze.

Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is a fifteen-year-old girl forced to stay home and babysit her fussy baby brother Toby (Toby Froud). In order to try to get him to go to sleep she starts telling him a story, but conjures up Jareth, The Goblin King (David Bowie) who kidnaps Toby and threatens to turn him into a goblin unless Sarah can rescue him in thirteen hours by getting to a castle that is in the middle of a long and winding labyrinth.

Initially I wasn’t too excited to see this film as it was produced by George Lucas, directed by Jim Henson and starring Bowie, which is three big egos too many and in most cases usually amounts to a lot of creative clashes and a disjointed, mishmash of a  product that has a big budget, but no soul. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the film managed to be captivating with a good distinct atmosphere. The special effects are excellent and this is the first film to ever show a computer generated animal, which is in the form of an owl. I probably enjoyed the puppet characters the most. I was afraid they would resemble the muppets, but they are much more creative and varied than that and sometimes pop up in the most unlikely places and times.

Connelly is excellent in the lead. In fact without her presence this film wouldn’t have worked at all. Not only is she cute, but can hold her own amongst the crazy effects and weirdness while showing confidence and poise.

labyrinth 3

Bowie on the other hand seems quite stale. His songs do little to enliven anything and the film could have done just as well without them. The character has no flash or campiness. A kid’s movie always needs a memorable villain like Cruella De Ville, or the wicked queen in Snow White, but this guy doesn’t even come close to those and is never frightening or scary.

There are a couple of ill-advised song routines that do nothing, but bog the film down and take away what little tension there is. The song number that features a group of creatures with removable heads is the only time that the special effects look fake as it is clear that the characters are being digitally matted onto the backdrop. Bowie’s routine in which he dances around with a bunch of puppets and the baby look laughable and embarrassing. I also thought that the Swamp of the eternal stench, which featured noises quite similar to flatulence and formations resembling rectums, was much too explicit for a film aimed at children and preteens.

Overall though this is an imaginative variation of the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme, but the film could have gone a lot further with it. I would have liked a few darker elements, some genuine tension or scares (of which this film has none) and less formulaic to the kiddie crowd. The ending also leaves a lot to be desired, but for most children as well as those that are young-at-heart it is an agreeable time-filler.

labyrinth 2

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: June 27, 1986

Runtime: 1Hour 41Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Jim Henson

Studio: Tri-Star Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

The Boy Friend (1971)

Boy Friend, The

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 9 out of 10

4-Word Review: An eye popping musical.

I would not call myself a big musical fan, but I found this one to be excellent and the gold standard for all others. The whole thing is visually stunning from beginning to end with a wide variety of backdrops and settings used. You get everything from conventional dance numbers to a fairy tale recreation where the performers dress like ladybugs and live in giant mushrooms. There is even a fun take-off on Greek mythology done in a scenic forest setting.

The best segment has the dancers on not one but two giant record players shown side-by-side and from overhead. The performers dance on top of the huge turntables while as a group make unique symmetrical designs with their bodies. Another part has them on a gigantic playing card, which reminded me of an old Busby Berkley number and who has always been considered the godfather of splashy dance numbers and yet here it seems to outdo even him.

The film carries itself on the visual level alone with a story that can be best described as a standard musical plot. It involves a group of underpaid actors who put on a tacky musical for a small group of people. The film than interweaves between the low budget numbers, which are all still really good, and their fantasies of what things would look like if they had more money. Twiggy plays the shy awkward crew hand that comes on as the star when the leading lady breaks her leg.

Sure it is at times predictable, corny, and lightweight but it makes up for it with a really good sense of humor. The songs all sound great and the dance routines are certainly extravagant. Twiggy may never score as a great actress, but she hits the mark here. She has a cute bob haircut and a constantly perplexed expression that is really amusing. All the other characters have funny idiosyncrasies as well including Glenda Jackson as the injured leading lady who comes back and is none too happy to see how successful her replacement is.

Ken Russell has immense talent and is sadly one of the most unheralded directors around. Some of his films have been considered excessive and nonsensical, but that is not the case here as his visual flair and indulgence work to enhance the production including his use of primary colors in every shot.

This is a highly recommended visual delight that is impressive even by today’s standards and fun to watch for every member of the household.

My Rating: 9 out of 10

Released: December 16, 1971

Runtime: 2Hours 17Minutes

Rated G

Director: Ken Russell

Studio: MGM

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

The Stunt Man (1980)

the stunt man

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Convict becomes a stuntman.

Cameron (Steve Railsback) is on the run from the cops who unknowingly comes onto a movie set and inadvertently causes the death of one of the stuntmen. Eli Cross (Peter O’Toole) the film’s God-like director takes a liking to Cameron and decides to hire him on as the replacement stuntman. Cameron is initially reluctant as he has no experience, but decides it would make a good cover from the police who are still after him. He starts an affair with the film’s leading lady Nina (Barbara Hershey), but finds that it may be Cross that he should be the most afraid of and who may be planning to film Cameron’s death during a difficult underwater stunt in order to add realism.

This is another one of those film-within-a-film type movies with this one faring a bit better than the others. One of the best ingredients it has is showing the behind-the-scenes politics that go on during any film production as well as hitting-the-nail-on-the-head with its caricatures.

Railsback is fun in a rare leading role. The way he can get intense as well as convey the rugged, ragged personality of a war-weary veteran on the run and just trying to survive is completely on-target. His best moments are simply his frightened and confused facial expressions that he has while going through many of Eli’s elaborate stunt routines and not sure if he will be coming out of it alive or not.

O’Toole is in peak form and was nominated for the Academy Award playing an egotistical director, which he modeled after David Lean. Having a director make a film advocating the horrors of war and violence, but then beat-up or threaten numerous crew members any time they make a mistake is perfect irony. My favorite moment of his is when they are showing rushes of Nina’s scenes from that day to her parents and then to their shock he throws in a few scenes showing Nina naked and in bed with another man. Then the next day he informs Nina about it simply to upset her and get the needed reaction that he wanted for the scene.

Hershey is splendid as a Hollywood actress who at times is quite jaded while at other moments is very naïve, child-like and emotionally fragile. Allen Garfield as the film’s exasperated and beleaguered screenwriter is also quite good. I also liked Chuck Bail who essentially plays himself as a stunt coordinator who tries to teach Cameron the fundamentals of the business.

Dominic Frontiere’s booming orchestral score is quite distinctive and at times even stirring particularly during the chase sequence. There is an abundance of ironies and twists that keep things interesting throughout and at points a bit surreal, but it’s missing that one final delicious twist or payoff and has an ending that seems a bit like a copout.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: June 27, 1980

Runtime: 2Hours 11Minutes

Rated R

Director: Richard Rush

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

Rollover (1981)

rollover 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: What’s in account 21214?

Hubbell Smith (Kris Kristofferson) is the newly appointed president of Borough National a bank that is in desperate need of money. He meets Lee Winters (Jane Fonda) the recent widow of the former chairman of Winterchem Enterprises who is looking to obtain a loan in order to purchase a Spanish processing plant. Hubbell broker’s the $500 million deal with some Arab investors and uses the finder’s fee portion to keep his bank solvent, but suspicions are raised when the money goes into a secret account named 21214 that no one knows anything about and can’t access. When Hubbell does some investigating he finds troubling answers that could lead to economic world collapse.

Director Alan J. Pakula approaches this thing like it is another Klute using not only the same star as that one, but similar type of music. Some of the camera work is dazzling and artsy, but I wondered if this was done to help enhance the script, or simply camouflage all of its holes. The story itself is too talky with a heavy reliance of financial business dealings that could become confusing for the average viewer. The two main characters are rather generic and their passionate making-out is tedious instead of sexy. The action is minimal, which includes a scene where Fonda gets trapped in a limo that is driven by a bad guy that had the potential for being exciting, but unfortunately gets underplayed.

Kristofferson with his Texas drawl is an awfully odd casting choice for a hot shot Wall Street businessman. He grows on you as the movie progresses particularly with the way he remains cool and detached even as his business dealings go horribly awry, but I still felt there were a hundred other actors that would have been better suited for the role.

Fonda is excellent and in many ways badly outplays her costar. Her character though doesn’t make a lot of sense as she is supposedly this famous and highly respected actress, much like Fonda herself and yet wants to be chairwoman of this chemical company instead of just selling her share of the stock after the death of husband and go back to acting, which to me would seem a lot more fun.

In an effort to keep the plot moving the film takes a few liberties with the plausibility. One of the major ones is when Hubbell wants to find out about the secret account and does so by breaking into the office of his superior where he finds in his desk drawer a notebook that lists the computer passcode, which seemed too convenient. In reality I would think a programmer would have to be hired in order to hack the system, which would have taken longer to play out, but also if done right heighten the tension as well as the believability.

Spoiler Warning!!

The film’s biggest transgression is the ending itself, which has the Arabs pulling the money out of the secret fund, which causes mass worldwide economic turmoil and chaos. Not only does this seem to create a whole new movie, but it also minimizes the two main characters and everything that we watched them do for the past two hours. A much better ending would have had the characters come up with some way to avert the collapse instead of the gloomy pessimistic way that it does take, which seems overblown and hard to believe.

End of Spoiler Warning!

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: December 11, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 56Minutes

Rated R

Director: Alan J. Pakula

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: VHS, DVD, YouTube, Amazon Instant Video

Norman…Is That You? (1976)

norman is that you

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Gay son comes out.

Ben (Redd Foxx) travels to L.A. to visit his son Norman (Michael Warren) after his wife Beatrice (Pearl Bailey) leaves him for his brother. However, unbeknownst to Ben Norman has come to terms with his closeted homosexuality and is now living with Garson (Denis Dugan). When Ben arrives unannounced Norman tries to keep his gay relationship a secret, but Ben eventually finds out about it and goes on a mission to have him ‘cured’.

The story was originally written as a play, but flopped and ran for only 12 performances in 1970. For whatever reason it was decided 6 years later to revamp the idea, but do it with a black cast instead. However, times have changed and most everything here seems quite dated. The Ben character could easily be considered homophobic by today’s standards and the gay jokes he makes seem out-of-line and even offensive.  The production, which was shot on video and then transferred to film, looks stagy and cheap with ‘the view’ of L.A.’s skyline that can be seen outside Norman’s patio door clearly being a painting. George Schlatter who is best known for producing the 60’s variety TV-show ‘Laugh-In’ makes his one-and-only cinematic directorial effort and is unable to overcome the script’s limitations.

Foxx is the only reason it is even slightly enjoyable. Just watching him walk around with his patented strut is amusing. However, the way he treats Garson simply for being gay is no longer considered funny and I felt the Garson character shouldn’t have put up with half as much as he does. Still, the part where Foxx dreams that he is a gay actor accepting the Academy Award is the film’s best moment.

Dugan plays up the flaming gay character relatively well, but Warren is a weak link as he says his lines like he is reading them off of a teleprompter and shows no emotion or variety of facial expressions. Having Bailey cast as Foxx’s wife seemed inspired, but the character gets wasted in trivial husband-and-wife arguments that knock this thing down to a TV-sitcom level. Jayne Meadows who appears as Garson’s mother is equally wasted and is in only one scene even though the character had great potential especially with the idea of setting her up on a date with Foxx.

There is enough comedic banter to save this from being a bomb, but just slightly. Although it is shown that the parents reluctantly come to terms with their son’s sexuality it still conveys the message that it is ‘okay’ to be openly prejudice towards the lifestyle, which likely could rub most of today’s viewers the wrong way.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: September 29, 1976

Runtime: 1Hour 31Minutes

Rated PG

Director: George Schlatter

Studio: United Artists

Available: VHS, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

ferris buellers day off

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Playing hooky from school.

Ferris (Matthew Broderick) is a high school senior who wakes up one nice sunny day in Chicago and decides that he doesn’t want to go to school. He fakes an illness, which his incredibly naïve parents (Lyman Ward, Cindy Pickett) buy into without question even though his sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) doesn’t and then gets together with his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) in Cameron’s Dad’s Ferrari and spends an exciting day in the Windy City where they visit everything from the Chicago Museum to a Cubs ballgame. However, Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) the school’s principal is suspicious about all of Ferris’s chronic absences and is determined to track him down.

On a comic level the film has some hilarious and even ingenious bits and in a lot of ways this is John Hughes finest directorial effort simply for the variety of camera angles and humor that is used. My favorite is the scene showing the lost and confused looks of the students faces who are sitting in an economics’ class run by actor Ben Stein lecturing in his patented monotone voice.

On the negative end I thought the parents were portrayed as being too stupid and gullible to the point that it became extreme and took away from the humor and Ferris’s perceived cleverness since the average 3-year-old would be able to dupe these morons. The symptoms he complains about clearly sound dubious and if anything they should have made an appointment for him to see a Dr. that day. You would also think that these idiot’s would get a hint that he was faking it since this was already the 9TH time this semester he had called in. How much more of a wake-up call do they need? Weren’t they teenagers once as well and didn’t they try to fake illness too to get out of school and shouldn’t they in the back of their minds presume that their kids might try to do the same?

The Ferris character is a bit too cocky and in some ways I sided with his sister as well as Rooney in giving this smug kid of bit of a comeuppance. The character borders on being one of these entitled teens who thinks he will be able to cheat the system his whole life and then when he gets out into the world and has to work a real job and play within the rules he and others like him can’t handle it or worse end up getting fired or sent to jail because they expect to still be able to cut-corners and get away with it.

The humor, especially during the second-half gets rather implausible. One scene has the Dad reading a newspaper with an article about a community rallying around a sick teenager (Ferris), but Ferris had only called in sick that morning, which was well after the paper had gone to press and there were no evening newspapers in Chicago at that time.

The scene where Ferris and Cameron hide in the backseat of a car when their cab gets parked right next to his Dad’s and all his dad sees is Sloane who he doesn’t recognize didn’t make sense either. I suppose it was possible that the Dad had never met her, but Ferris seemed to have been seeing her for quite a while and was even proposing marriage to her, which made me feel that he had most likely brought her home already for his Mom and Dad to meet. Also, why can’t Jeanie recognize Mr. Rooney when she comes upon him inside her house and karate kicks him straight in his face?

The scene where they put the Ferrari on a jack and then a cement block on the accelerator and drive it in reverse in an effort to take off the miles, so Cameron’s Dad wouldn’t find out they had driven it, seems implausible as well. This is mainly because it gets done inside a glass garage. I realize that the garage door was open, but the back of the car was facing the enclosed glass wall, which would have trapped the exhaust fumes and made it impossible for them to stand there and have the long conversation that they do without choking and having their eyes get all watery and itchy.

The side story involving Cameron’s issue with his father who seems to love his car more than his own son doesn’t work mainly because it’s hard to go from zany comedy to drama especially in this case when it’s all rather pseudo-psychological. It’s also frustrating to spend as much time talking about it as they do, but never actually see the father nor the final meeting that he has with Cameron, which could have been revealing and insightful.

The film still has its moments and I loved it as a teen, but now it seems lodged in a more innocent era were adolescent hijinks was considered ‘good innocent fun’ without even slightly balancing it with the darker and serious consequences that can come about from teenagers who think that they can get away with anything. The filmmakers themselves prove my own point and what a thin line this type of plot walked because originally there was a scene were Ferris steals some bonds from a shoebox in his father’s closet and then cashes it in a bank and uses the money to fund his day on the town, but the scene was later deleted because it was felt it made him seem too much like a thief instead of a ‘lovable rogue’.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: June 11, 1986

Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: John Hughes

Studio: Paramount

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

Did You Hear the One About the Traveling Saleslady? (1968)

did you hear the traveling saleslady

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Saleslady saves family farm.

Agatha (Phyllis Diller) is a traveling saleswoman who arrives in a small Missouri town in the summer of 1910 trying to sell a piano that can play by itself. During a demonstration of it one of the townspeople, the kindly, but inept Bertram (Bob Denver) accidently destroys it. Agatha now finds herself stuck with a piano she can’t sell and nowhere to go. Bertram allows her to stay at his family farm, which is at risk of being foreclosed by the town’s greedy banker Hubert Shelton (Joe Flynn). Bertram and Agatha come up with a way to save the farm by winning an automobile race in a wild vehicle created by Bertram using parts from the destroyed piano.

It seems hard to believe in retrospect that eccentric comedian Diller was ever considered star making material, but she did 8 films during the 60’s with 4 of them centered on her flamboyant persona. All of them tanked both critically and at the box office with this one being the last of them. I imagine trying to come up with a scenario using Diller as the centerpiece would be no easy task, but this screenplay penned by John Fenton Murray is too broadly written to be even remotely interesting and seemed already badly dated even for its era. The humor is locked in a kiddie level with a plot that is excessively simplistic and won’t intrigue anyone over the age of 6.

Diller pretty much just plays herself, which would be alright if some her jokes and lines were actually funny, but none of them are. The reoccurring gags centered on her whacky outfits, ugly appearance and horses that go crazy the second she reveals any part of her legs gets old fast. Denver’s character is nothing more than an extension of Gilligan and Flynn is pretty much being the same character he was in ‘McHale’s Navy’.

The film is watchable if you come into with extremely low expectations, but that is not saying much. None of the gags work and the town’s set was clearly filmed inside Universal’s studio lot, which looks phony and annoying. Denver’s milking machine invention, which can milk 6 cows at once, has potential, but when the cows escape and rampage the entire town it becomes forced humor at its worst, which goes likewise for the climatic and silly car race.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: July 14, 1968

Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Don Weis

Studio: Universal

Available: None at this time.

Runaway, Runaway (1971)

runaway runaway 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Teen girl runs away.

Ricki (Gilda Texter) is a teen girl who has had enough of her unhappy home life and decides to run away and meet up with a guy in California who she has strong feelings for but knows little about. Along the way she takes a ride from Frank (William Smith) whose job is finding young runaways and returning them to their parents. He tries to help Ricki, but she rejects it even though they remain on friendly terms. She then meets up with Lorri (Rita Murray) who works as a prostitute, but is also a closet lesbian. She gives Ricki a place to stay and then makes sexual advances towards her. Although Ricki at first resists she eventually gives in, but remains conflicted about her feelings towards Lorri and unhappy with her situation that seems no better for her than the one she ran away from.

Texter rose to fame after playing the nude blonde riding on a motorcycle in the film Vanishing Point. Her scene lasted for only a couple of minutes, but most male viewers came away remembering her part more than anything else and producers were quick to pick up on it. She was soon given a starring role here, which was hoped to jettison her into a full-time acting career, which never happened and eventually she settled down into the role of costume designer for films, which she did through 2006.

gilda texter 2

Either way she does quite well and shows more flair and ability than most young beauties that get acting jobs with only limited experience or training. She speaks her lines with a nice inflection and has some good facial expressions especially during the scene where she is attacked.

Smith who has made a career playing bulky tough guys is quite good in the sympathetic role as an older father figure. However, in these more cynical times his over concern for her welfare could seem more like a dirty old man with deep seated sexual desires. The fact that they do end up going to bed together seemed quite creepy and unnatural and I didn’t care for it and felt she would have been better off had she stayed with Lorri and formed a more lasting relationship with her.

Hank Beebe’s music score is distinctive and bucked the trend of the time by not having a psychedelic or rock sound, but instead it’s more on the jazz side. The bouncing vibrant song done over the opening credits is especially good and I would love to credit the lady who sings it, but none is given.

The opening sequence features a scene where Ricki gets attacked by a man at an isolated location of an abandoned dessert building that is played by Ron Gans, who later went on to be a famous voice-over narrator for movie trailers, and it is exciting. Another part that I found interesting is when Ricki goes to a party and gets drugged, which makes good use of the fish-eye camera lens, but overall this thing gets too talky and eventually becomes quite boring.

The Ricki character seems a bit too naïve as well. Most runaways I would presume would be practical enough to have some money in their pocket, but she has absolutely none. She barely knows this guy that she has ‘fallen in-love’ with and has no idea where he lives or even his phone number, but somehow expects to magically meet up with him anyways. She also makes no attempt to find a job once she gets to her new location even though that is the first thing most people, even movie characters will do in order to help them get back on their feet and give them some independence.

The story is derivative and predictable and gives us no new insight or slant into the runaway issue. The ending offers no real conclusion and despite some good attempts at realism and well-written dialogue the film is overall sterile and forgettable.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: June 13, 1971

Runtime: 1Hour 30Minutes

Rated R

Director: Bickford Otis Webber

Studio: Meier-Mayer Productions

Available: None at this time