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.
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
Director: Bickford Otis Webber
Studio: Meier-Mayer Productions
Available: None at this time