By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: Road trip goes bad.
Charlie (Beau Bridges) is unhappy with his life. He is stuck in a dull job and engaged to Betty (Janet Margolin) who is constantly nagging him. He longs for a more carefree existence that is friend Mike (Ron Liebman) enjoys. Mike does not work a job and spends most of his time trying to cheat what he feels is a cold and impersonal system, but also has to deal with constant calls from bill collectors and the stress of trying to make ends meet with very little money. The two decide on a whim to take a little road trip, but during the course of their journey things begin to unravel as both men realize there are limits to everything and once you cross it you must pay the consequences.
The film like the characters spans the entire critical spectrum. The script, which was written by James Dixon who appears as the character Howard is incisive and taps into something every individual on the planet must deal with, which is learning how to balance individuals desires with societal demands. Other films have lightly touched on it, but few delve into it quite this deeply. I especially enjoyed the Charlie character who starts out as an obedient schmuck that gets ordered around by everyone, but also harbors a pent up anger that comes out slowly until it finally erupts into volcanic proportions that shocks even him.
Unfortunately the direction by Douglas Schwartz is dull and unimaginative. The budget was clearly low, which gives the movie a cheap TV-Movie look and feel. The framing and camera work is uninspired and could have used more close-ups, tighter editing and better lighting. The film also contains four generic sounding songs all sung by Mark Lindsey the former lead singer from Paul Revere and the Raiders that lack distinction and give the movie a dated quality.
I also didn’t care for the Margolin character. She is a beautiful woman physically, but the character is too much of a one-dimensional nag. Why she would continue to call Charlie and beg him to come back when he clearly lied to her while also openly telling her that she annoyed him didn’t make much sense. The scene where she walks in on him in bed with two naked women and instead of just ending the relationship immediately she stays and tries to ‘reason’ with him, which came off as pathetic and unrealistic.
This also marks the film debut of Nedra Volz a late bloomer into acting who at age 65 started a two decade career playing old lady roles in various TV-shows and movies. She can be briefly spotted at the 31-minute mark playing an old lady sitting on a bench at a bus stop and accepting a free newspaper only to become shocked and embarrassed at its provocative headline.
June Fairchild who appears as a woman who stuffs her face with food at a fancy restaurant thinking that she is being treated to dinner only to end up getting stiffed with the bill ironically had her real-life paralleling the lead character’s quandary in the movie. She was in a string of films during the 70’s, but when the offers dried up she became a homeless alcoholic living on skid row and the subject of a February, 2001 article in The Los Angeles Times. Friends came to her rescue and she managed to get back on her feet and now judging by some recent pics is looking happy and still quite attractive.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: August 7, 1973
Runtime: 1Hour 27Minutes
Director: Douglas N. Schwartz
Studio: Cinerama Releasing Corporation