By Richard Winters
My Rating: 7 out of 10
4-Word Review: She can’t be trusted.
This is an okay obscurity about an Indian girl named Rosalie (Bonnie Bedelia) whose grandfather has just died and in an attempt to stave off loneliness tricks Virgil (Ken Howard) a traveling businessman into coming back to her isolated ramshackle place. Once there she breaks his leg in order to trap him and hopes that in the time it takes to heal he will learn to love her.
Critic Leonard Maltin calls this film “farfetched” and going “way off base” yet nothing could be further from the truth. If you accept the initial premise then the rest of the film is carried out in a plausible and believable fashion.
Director Jack Starrett certainly has a vision here. The remote desert like local is captured well and gives it a distinct feel. The premise is static, but the story keeps moving and new elements are added in nicely. The second hour does begin to meander, but it is finished off by a surprise ending that comes out of nowhere and is completely unexpected. You have to watch it all the way through to really appreciate it yet it does help the film come together and even helps explain its title.
The similarities between this and Misery are quite evident and in some ways this film wins out. It is not as slick or polished, but it is also not as formulated either. This is not your standard thriller as you have no idea where it is going. It runs the gamut between drama, adventure, and even human interest. There is also the added sexuality element and a genuine relationship between the two, which Misery did not have.
The best thing is the Rosalie character. She is young and beautiful. Her intentions and motivations are constantly surprising. In some ways she is like the Barbara Eden character in ‘I Dream of Jeannie’. She is naive and trusting, but also headstrong, self- sufficient and cunning and Bedelia is perfect in the role.
Being made in the early 70’s and at the height of political awareness there is some thought to there being meaning to the fact that she is Indian and Howard the typical white businessman. She is constantly trying to win approval of this white man who otherwise seems oblivious to her conditions or needs. He is also too self-absorbed and too locked into his mindset of minorities being ‘inferior’ to realize how consistently she outsmarts him. Like with a lot of minorities there is a great deal of frustration with the attitudes of the establishment. Howard is just too stuck in to his preconceived notions to ever see her as an equal no matter how hard she tries.
Overall this is a decent film especially when compared to other low budget, independent films of that same era. The twist ending helps, but you have to stick with it.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Released: June 16, 1972
Runtime: 1Hour 47Minutes
Director: Jack Starrett
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Available: Amazon Instant Video (Edited Version)