By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: Hardships of a runaway.
Chastity (Cher), in an attempt to escape her troubled past, runs away from home. She initially hitches a ride with a truck driver (Elmer Valentine) who seems to have only one thing on his mind, so she leaves him and meets up with a younger man named Eddie (Steve Whittaker) who she takes a liking to. He brings her back to his place and she spends the night there, but then worries that things may be moving too fast, so she leaves him. She then treks down to Mexico where she gets a job at a whorehouse. The woman (Barbara London) who runs the place becomes sexually attracted to Chastity and makes an attempt to start a lesbian relationship with her, but Chastity is uncomfortable with this and runs away again. She then meets back up with Eddie hoping to restart their relationship, but her demons from the past catch up with her and make that impossible.
The film was written and directed by Sonny Bono and I got to admit I was surprised at how genuinely riveting this was. The dialogue is sharp with a definite cinema vertite feel. There’s little or no action, but like with a Jim Jarmusch film you still find yourself glued to it and interested in picking up any little nuance that happens. The subject matter is frank and uncompromised and there’s even a little bit of nudity as we see Cher naked from both the top and backside.
The plot is unstructured and works more as a portrait to the tough situations most runaways fall into than in actually telling any type of story with a beginning, middle and end. However, it flows pretty well and has some memorable scenes including Chastity’s attempts to change the oil in a stranger’s car, her visit to a church and most especially her stay at the whorehouse and the way she successfully fleeces money out of a shy and unsuspecting teenage boy customer (Tom Nolan).
Cher is outstanding and the main reason to why this thing is so compelling. Apparently she was unhappy with her performance and refused to do another film until 13 years after this one, which is a shame as she shows definite signs of being a star-in-the-making and she looks so young that she seems almost like a different person than the one we’ve become so accustomed to seeing.
My only quibble is the fact that we get very little insight to the character’s past or why she’s running away. At the very end we do start to hear some voices, which are apparently going on inside her head and that of her parents, but it was too late to bring that up and should’ve been introduced earlier. The ending is vague and leaves the viewer in-the-dark as to what the ultimate fate of the character is, which is frustrating.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: June 24, 1969
Runtime: 1Hour 25Minutes
Director: Alessio de Paola (Sonny Bono)
Studio: American International Pictures