By Richard Winters
My Rating: 5 out of 10
4-Word Review: Older man/younger woman.
Joe is a middle-aged, recently divorced man trying to stumble his way back into the single scene. He passes by Ginger (Sissy Spacek) who is hitchhiking alongside a roadway and decides to pick her up. He is attracted to her youthful carefreeness and hopes to take advantage of her ‘free-love’ hippie attitude by bringing her back to his place for some quick easy sex. However, Ginger is secretly pregnant and looks at Joe’s maturity as a good father-figure for her child, which Joe is not ready for. Charlie (Mark Miller) is Joe’s best friend who along with his wife Sugar (Susan Oliver) barrages in and disrupts everything.
The story starts out okay with the budding relationship between the two leads and their attempts to try to get beyond the generation gap I found to be appealing. The film though shifts gears in jarring fashion by allowing Charlie and Sugar to enter into it and then gets even further away from the main theme by having the third act dealing with the male bonding between Charlie and Joe. It is only at the very end that it gets back to the romantic concept, but the whole thing ends up coming off like three movies crammed into one. All three story threads are weak and better suited for an episode of ‘Love American Style’ than a feature film.
Screenwriter Miller casts himself as Charlie who is obnoxious and dumb and given too much screen-time. Blonde actress Oliver wears a black wig that looks hideous and their incessant bickering is contrived and the cutesy way they magically make-up at the end is strained.
Markham who has been acting consistently since 1966 and remains busy even today, but has never achieved stardom is okay in a rare leading film role. His character of a middle-aged man trying to ‘connect’ with the much younger Ginger by making broad assumptions about her generation is quite relatable. Spacek though comes off best out of all of them. Her character seems like a real person while the rest are caricatures and her twangy Texas accent fits the part. She even sings the film’s theme song, which isn’t bad.
Character actor David Doyle can be seen at the beginning as a yapping man who gives Joe the ‘finer points’ of picking up women and one-night-stands. Slim Pickens is essentially wasted as the town’s sheriff, but he manages to make the most of the few scenes that he is in.
The use of a hard spotlight gives the production a cheap, low budget look and some soft lighting would have created a better mood and artistic design. There is also a boom mike that can be seen for several minutes in one scene. Yet despite the film’s amateurish look I still liked its unpretentious quality as well as the cute climatic sequence that takes place on a bus, which propelled me to give this thing a rather generous 5 rating.
My Rating: 5 out of 10
Released: July 17, 1974
Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes
Director: Gordon Wiles
Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video