Tag Archives: Louise Latham

Adam at 6 A.M. (1970)

adam at 6am

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: He searches for direction.

Adam Gaines (Michael Douglas) is a Professor of Semantics at a local California college and although his future looks bright and stable he can’t help but feel ‘processed’ and bored. When his aunt dies he travels to Missouri to attend her funeral and then on whim decides to stay there for the summer while working a rugged job clearing out a forest in order to install power lines. He also meets and falls in love with the attractive Jeri Jo (Lee Purcell), but then just as things seem to becoming together he suddenly gets the itch to leave and start a new adventure somewhere else.

This is the type of character study that they just don’t seem to make anymore, which is creating characters that are not satisfied with society’s ‘perks’ and still feeling the need to go off and find themselves, which films of that era emphasized as being more important. Filmed on-location in Cameron and Excelsior Springs, Missouri the Midwest gets captured in authentic detail. The population is portrayed as being conservative and limited, but not hick or stupid. The film also has a lot of quiet moments with no dialogue, which helps recreate the heartland’s slower and more neighborly atmosphere.

Purcell, in her film debut, is outstanding as a typical small-town girl with just enough sexiness and flirtation to be alluring, but ultimately unable to break away from her local roots and share Adam’s more expansive worldly views. Louise Latham as her conniving mother is also good as is Joe Don Baker as a field hand who befriends Adam despite having vastly different intellectual backgrounds. It’s also great seeing Meg Foster in film debut popping up early as one of Adam’s girlfriends and sporting not only her incredibly exotic pair of eyes, but her topless body as well.

Adam’s conversation with Grayson Hall’s character during the funeral where she tries to mask her inability to understand the word ‘semantics’ is amusing and I also enjoyed his ‘debate’ with Dana Elcar’s character in regards to Blow Up and the other ‘filthy’ movies of the modern generation. The scene where the laborers go to a bar and pick-up some ‘hot chicks’ is fun as well, but the film’s best moment comes at the end when a routine trip to a convenience store to pick up some ice cream becomes unexpectedly captivating and climaxes with a memorable final shot.

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: September 22, 1970

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Rated GP

Director: Robert Scheerer

Studio: National General Pictures

Available: VHS

Making It (1971)

making it 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Teen enjoys seducing women.

Phil (Kristoffer Tabori) is a cocky, self-centered teen who uses his good looks to get practically any girl he wants into bed with him. He even has a fling with the wife of his basketball coach, but when he thinks he has gotten one of them pregnant things begin to spiral out-of-control especially when his emotionally fragile mother (Joyce Van Patten) starts to have some ‘problems’ of her own.

Peter Bart’s script, which is based on James Leigh’s novel ‘What Can You Do?’ has some incisive comments, but surprisingly it’s more on being middle age than adolescence. It shows with a depressing clarity what a thankless, pain-in-the-ass the middle age years can be and how people at that stage secretly wish to go back to their teens if only to experience for a fleeting moment the carefreeness and idealism once again.

The on-location shooting done at West Mesa High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico nicely captures the gorgeous, crystal blue skies of that region. The students are made up of actual teens that look and behave very much like teens of today. However, John Erman’s direction is lackluster and flat. Everything is shot in a conventional, unimaginative way with a pace that is slow and only manages to improve towards the end when it becomes dramatic.

Phil’s spirited debate with his English teacher, played by Lawrence Pressman, is engaging as is a rebellious student played by Bob Balaban arguing with his beleaguered principal (David Doyle) about his right not to have to stand at attention during the pledge of allegiance. The film is also famous for the novelty of casting real-life siblings Dick and Joyce Van Patten as lovers and includes a sequence showing him kissing her on the mouth, which had to be awkward to perform let alone rehearse.

Tabori, who is the son of actress Viveca Lindfors and Dirty Harry director Don Siegel shows an impressive amount of composure and maturity for such a young age, but I wasn’t so sure I liked the sound of his voice. Louise Latham, who plays the mother of the girl Phil thinks he might have impregnated, is memorable and had her part been just a wee bit bigger she would have easily stolen the whole thing. She is also involved in the film’s funniest moment where she asks Phil for some weed and thinking she doesn’t know “grass from her ass” he decides to take a regular cigarette, roll it up like a joint, light it and then let her smoke it where she  ends up getting a ‘high’ anyways.

The film’s staple though is its twist ending that is genuinely shocking and most likely to leave even the most jaded viewer’s mouth agape. It could’ve been played out a little more, but remains nasty nonetheless and it’s something you’re guaranteed not to see in any other movie. It is also the one thing that gives this otherwise undistinguished teen flick a kick and probably explains why it has never been released on either VHS or DVD nor ever shown on broadcast network television.

making it 1

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: March 21, 1971

Runtime: 1Hour 31Minutes

Rated R

Director: John Erman

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: None at this time.