Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '78 - Hal Horn ""

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Underrated '78 - Hal Horn

Hal Horn runs the irreplaceable Horn Section Blog ('reviewing the obscure, overlooked and sometimes the very old').

Old pros Rod Amateau (DOBIE GILLIS) and Stanley Shapiro (PILLOW TALK) give us a T&A comedy that's really kind of light on both, but does offer Priscilla Barnes (THREE'S COMPANY) in a key, if wordless, role. Remarkably, often cringingly retro in the presentation of its female characters, but prescient enough to offer us a highly illegal business venture that the banker says is "too big to fail". As a Dallasite and a boy of a certain age when this was making the Skinemax rounds, I have a soft spot for this one--it was filmed at Southern Methodist University. My one-time drama teacher Ryland Merkey has a speaking role, in fact. Also with a young Dennis Quaid and a peerless cast of old pros: Alan Reed, Woodrow Parfrey, Edward Andrews and Robert Emhardt. Definitely of its time, jaw droppingly so at times to modern eyes, but fun if you're in the right mood and--since it is so readily available on bootleg DVD's--apparently in the public domain. Oh, and "Sail On", sung by Gene Cotton (lyrics by Norman Gimbel!) just might be the cheesiest 1970's soundtrack song this side of "Life is Looking Good" (from THE BAD NEWS BEARS IN BREAKING TRAINING).
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If you thought Dennis Quaid was a tad creepy in THE SENIORS, wait til you see him in this made-for-TV sleeper that was adapted by Judith Parker from the novel by Richard Peck. He's the boyfriend of Robin Mattson but secretly stalking her best friend Kathleen Beller, a New York transplant to a small town with a passion for photography. In the age of #metoo, this one may be more relevant than ever after 40 years; Beller is in denial after being raped and Quaid turns out to have valuable connections in the legal system. As always, Kathleen Beller is appealing. Also with Blythe Danner and Tony Bill.
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ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? got its overdue DVD release on a double bill with this made for TV movie from the same year. Very derivative of CARRIE, no doubt, with shy, bullied wallflower Kay Lenz discovering she has psychic powers shortly after she joins a sorority. In one scene that was controversial 40 years ago, Morgan Fairchild wears a wet T-shirt after being thrown into a fountain. A lot cheesier than the other half of its double bill, but undeniably cheesy fun. Also with Shelley Winters, Tony Bill (pretty busy in '78), Morgan Brittany, Robert Hays (shortly before he landed ANGIE), and CARRIE's Michael Talbott.
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A hit, sure. Sam Peckinpah's biggest, as a matter of fact (though James Coburn apparently directed a large portion of it uncredited). Scathingly reviewed, and disowned by its credited director, CONVOY is a mess, no doubt--but it's a damned entertaining one. Based on C.W. McCall's massive 1976 hit, it stars Kris Kristofferson as Martin Penwald, the "Rubber Duck" on the C.B. leading the titular mass of trucks through the southwest. Menaced along the way by corrupt sheriff Ernest Borgnine, Kris leads pals Burt Young (as "Pig Pen") and Franklyn Ajaye through Arizona and New Mexico, garnering much media attention as corrupt politician Seymour Cassell attempts to co-opt his "message"--whatever it is. A wonderful role for the great Madge Sinclair as the cornrowed Black Widow. Watch for the the accident that takes her truck out of the running--it wasn't staged! With Ali MacGraw and Cassie Yates. The original cut reportedly ran 220 minutes, and I'd love to see it. Almost as much as I'd love to see the long-rumored SMOKEY IS THE BANDIT with two Jackie Gleasons.
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Another bad movie I love, that, like THE SENIORS, promised tons of titillation but delivered even less. In contrived fashion, Olympic track champion becomes coach of a high school boys' basketball team after she's confused for a male applicant. Naturally, she gets romantically involved with one of her students, but no one is calling him "victim" --- more like "lucky bastard!". Hey, it was 1978. We do get some brief nudity from Cathy Lee in the shower, and Rosanne Katon shows her um, katons a few months before she was the Playboy Playmate of the Month in September. The lucky student/player is Michael Biehm (TOMBSTONE) and the wet blanket S.O.B. of a principal is Keenan Wynn.
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SteveQ said...

I saw "Convoy" in a theater. I would've guessed 1973; I think I had better taste by 1978, but then again...

Armando H. said...

Coach is a lot of fun for such a slow burn dramedy from Crown International!