Tag Archives: Chuck McCann

Jennifer on My Mind (1971)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Girlfriend becomes heroin addict.

While vacationing in Venice Marcus (Michael Brandon) meets up with Jennifer (Tippy Walker) a young free-spirit whose beauty and carefree ways immediately smitten him and the two begin a relationship, but Jennifer’s impulsive ways doesn’t allow it to last. He later learns that she’s a heroin addict and tries to help her overcome it, but to no avail. After she disappears for several months she then suddenly shows up at his doorstep wanting to rekindle old-times. At first he’s happy to see her, but then learns that her addiction has grown worse and after reluctantly giving her an injection that turns out to being fatal he then goes into a panic and tries to get rid of the dead body as he fears he’ll be implicated for her death otherwise.

After the success of Love Story screenwriter Erich Segal was a hot commodity and given free-reign to write any concoction he wanted and this script, which is based on the Robert L. Simon novel ‘Heir’ is the result.  The story though is poorly structured and seems to focus more on Marcus and his efforts to get rid of the body than on giving any meaningful insight to the drug addiction experience. There’s also severe shifts in tone where it’s dramatic one minute and then has weird dream-like humorous segues where Marcus sees visions of his dead grandfather (Lou Gilbert) who cracks corny jokes.

Director Noel Black, whose career looked bright after doing the critically acclaimed cult hit Pretty Poison, manages to infuse some nice on-location scenery, particularly that of Venice,  but technically botches many other moments. The worst comes when Jennifer tries to jump off the roof of her house, but she goes from being in her backyard to on the rooftop in a matter of seconds, which isn’t realistic. She then jumps off it even though it’s a 2-story building with another rooftop of a different section of the home beneath her, which is where she should’ve landed, but instead the film in a poorly edited bit that doesn’t even show the actual jump has her landing in a flower bed.

The Marcus character, who has inherited his grandfather’s fortune and therefore doesn’t have to work for a living, is too smug to be likable and most viewers will find his privileged situation off-putting. He also doesn’t seem, despite his insistence, to be all that ‘in-love’ with Jennifer especially with the callous ways he tries to get rid of her body and in one really creepy moment even professes to the corpse that he feels closer to her now than when she was alive. I also couldn’t understand why this non-descript guy would be constantly attracting the attention of violent bikers and hippies. One instance occurs when he is doing nothing more than standing at a pier of a lake and within seconds finds himself surrounded by three bikers who come out of nowhere and then later on as he’s driving down a busy highway some hippies decide to harass him at random but no one else.

Jennifer character is equally annoying as the viewer learns little about what makes her tick. Walker’s acting career ended after this film as she left Hollywood disillusioned with the business after having an affair with George Roy Hill when she was only 16 and he was 42 while filming The World of Henry Orient. Her life, like the character in the film, then  took a strong downward spiral as she opened up an art gallery in New Haven, Connecticut which eventually closed. In a 2015 interview published in the New Haven Register she was living in a cramped 1-bedroom apartment that was infested with cockroaches after having spent several years being homeless and surviving off of social security and what little monthly money her brother in Texas sent her.

The film’s  only saving grace are the performances of its supporting cast . I enjoyed Peter Bonerz as a psychiatrist who barrages into Marcus’ home and tries to give him an impromptu therapy session. Chuck McCann is amusing too as a motorist who tries to help Marcus change a flat, Barry Bostwick and Jeff Conaway enliven things as two antagonistic minstrels and Robert De Niro is great as a gypsy cab driver. Otherwise this thing is a complete mess that like a bad car accident is garish enough to keep you watching, but offers nothing in return.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: November 10, 1971

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Noel Black

Studio: United Artists

Available: DVD-R (MGM Limited Edition Collection), Amazon Video

Linda Lovelace for President (1975)

linda-lovelace-1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 0 out of 10

4-Word Review: Vote for porn star.

The election is only a few months away and there are still no candidates running for President. Then someone suggests adult film star Linda Lovelace famous for her starring role in the porn classic Deep Throat. At first she is reluctant, but then after having a conversation with what she thinks is God she agrees, which then leads to many ‘zany’ and ‘comical’ adventures.

I don’t know where to even begin with this one except to say that it’s crap, pure and unadulterated crap that on any level isn’t worth anyone’s time. The gags are incredibly lame and there’s no real plot to speak. It’s also not very sexy, so if you’re considering checking it out just for that reason you might as well pass.

Lovelace isn’t all that attractive and certainly cannot compare to today’s porn stars. Maybe that sounds cruel and shallow to some, but let’s face it the selling point for this thing isn’t her acting talent. I think my biggest annoyance with her is her blank smile and stare and the way she delivers her lines almost like she is in some sort of hypnotic trance.

Had the film tried to keep things on a more real level and gone through some of the things a person who actually tried to run for President would go through than it might’ve had a chance and maybe even been really funny. Unfortunately we see none of that and there isn’t even any opposing Nixon-like candidate going against her. Instead it’s just a barrage of lame gags one after that other that wouldn’t amuse even a 4-year-old.

Chuck McCann has a few light-hearted moments as a racist senator near the beginning and later as an inept assassin, but otherwise there are no laughs to be had. It’s rare that I would ever suggest a porn flick over a feature film, but in this case I would. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, but Deep Throat even if you take out the sex scenes it’s still far better directed and more creative than this turkey, so if on a slow evening and you’re really desperate I’d pop that one in instead of this thing. In fact I’d rather watch an 8-hour video showing grass growing than this and believe me it would be far more interesting.

My Rating: 0 out of 10

Released: April 1, 1975

Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes

Rated R

Director: Claudio Guzman

Studio: General Film Corporation

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Hamburger: The Motion Picture (1986)

hamburger

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: Receiving a hamburger education.

Russell (Leigh McCloskey) has flunked out of several colleges and has no future plans while being deemed a failure by his parents (Robert Hogan, Lillian Garrett). Then he meets a franchise owner of Busterburger who tells him about how much money he can make as an owner of one of their restaurants, which convinces him to train to become a franchisee. The problem is that he must attend Burger U, which is run by the no-nonsense Drootin (Dick Butkus) who has strict rules and won’t even allow the students to leave the campus during the school semester. They are forced to sleep in beds that look like giant hamburgers and if they do get into trouble they are locked into cells made to resemble giant pickles and sprayed with hot sauce.

There are schools out there that train people on how to own their own fast food franchise and had this film toned down the silliness and keep it solely on a satirical level it might’ve worked. The opening 10 minutes has an over-the-top campy quality, which isn’t bad, but then it devolves into the crude, cartoonish mindset that drags the thing down until it becomes a forgettable waste of time.

The film was written by Donald Ross who penned many teleplays for TV-series from the ‘70s through the ‘90s. He is also the husband of Patti Deutsch a red haired, nasal voiced woman who was a quirky contestant on game shows during the ‘70s including ‘Match Game’, which is my favorite. They also appeared together as a couple on ‘Tattletales’ and in those instances he came off as a reasonably intelligent person, so I was expecting a little bit more from this than what I got.

Unfortunately there’s nothing funny about it and just proceeds to get dumber and dumber as it progresses. It’s also insulting to overweight people as it includes a highly offensive and gross scene where a busload of them come into a restaurant and eat everything in sight like they’re animals instead of humans and then proceed to all have a flatulence attack, which ultimately blows the whole place up.

Former Chicago Bears linebacker Butkus is alright and the one highpoint of both the film and his otherwise unimpressive acting career. Chuck McCann, who is almost unrecognizable as an eccentric professor, is okay too, but star McCloskey is dull and looks more like a man in his 30’s, which he was, than a college aged student while the rest of the cast of characters are too exaggerated to be either interesting or funny.

Clearly the producers were trying to tap into the Police Academy formula, but it doesn’t work and is a complete embarrassment to all those involved.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: January 14, 1986

Runtime: 1Hour 29Minutes

Rated R

Director: Mike Marvin

Studio: Busterburger Limited Partnership

Available: VHS