Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Poor Pretty Eddie (1975)

Every so often you see a picture that actually lives up to its hype. Recently, the New Beverly (apparently, it's a great movie theatre in Los Angeles) showed an exploitation film that everyone (all online genre movie critics) were raving about. A picture, I guess, that could classify as hick-sploitation. Or, maybe black-sploitation, although I don't really agree with that label (more on that later). However, I do agree that this is pretty much a fucking masterpiece. It's hard for me to say that based on the fact that there's no "titties" (me quoting Slim Pickens in this thing) in the entire film. This is borderline art-sploitation, I think.

The story involves mega-star Leslie Uggams (she won a tony and is apparently a jazz singer that I'm not too familiar with, also black and she appeared in an episode of "The Cosby Show", so yeah, she's pretty big) who, after performing the national anthem at a football game, decides to get away from it all. She drives her fancy car (some exotic foreign number) into the deep south where the thing breaks down. So, of course she ends up at an old run down motel proprietered by Shelly Winters (played by herself) and her young lover and elvis wannabe Eddie. Also, the original Lurch from the original Adams Family. This is not exactly the vacation spot Uggams had in mind.

This picture falls into the rape-revenge genre that people seemed to love back in the 70s. I don't know man, but I fucking agree with those critics that saw this at the New Bev, this thing is fucking brilliant. Obviously, I am no advocate of rape. I'm also no advocate of racism. But, what I am an advocate of is being entertained and this thing entertained me in spades ("spades" not being used in racist context here). First of all, this "character" that Uggams is playing is a bitch. She's no racist, but she's a bit prejudiced against southerners, especially against racist southerners. She hates her hosts immediately. She is arguably a racist, if southerners were considered a seperate race. Not the most sympathetic heroine is what I'm trying to say.

So, anyway, she gets a room at this crappy motel while Lurch (who despises Eddie and is in love with Winters) fixes the car with Eddie. Eddie is suddenly in love with Uggams so he rips out the starter and hides it so she has no choice but to stay and eventually be raped and then, later forced to marry him. Oh wait, I think I gave away the ending....sort of....I might be drunk while I'm writing this masterpiece of film critcism, I hope you forgive me.

Shelly Winters used to be beautiful at one point in her life (see Lolita or even Night of the Hunter). Here, she's what might happen to Uggams if she stays on the same track and were white. Winters is drunk in the morning, the afternoon, the evening, chainsmoking like a chimney that has a poor filter. She's a former starlet whose lost it all, most especially her self respect...even more especially, her figure. Eddie is her boyfriend, but he's not used to seeing a beautiful woman, which is why he's so taken by the character played by Uggams. He's so taken by her, in fact, that when she retires to her bedroom, he's waiting there for her, sans shirt, on her bed. His chest hair is all in tufts and shit. It's a great scene and he's pretty funny in it, until the rape starts and then it's not so funny. Then the director (David Worth) starts intercutting the rape shit with scenes of Lurch throwing his dog into a ring so the dog can fuck another dog, doggy style. That's when it became funny again. Holy shit, man, who the fuck would think to do that? It's completely offensive and yet, somewhat, artistic.

Worth has obviously been inspired by Peckinpah. All the violence is shot in extreme slow motion and also he cast Slim Pickens (Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid) as the sheriff and also Dub Taylor (The Wild Bunch) as the justice of the peace/pool hall owner. The only difference is that Uggams doesn't seem to enjoy the rape as much as Susan George did in Straw Dogs, which I think is the main inspiration for this picture. Like Straw Dogs, we are introduced to a town where all the inhabitants are a bit fucking insane. Hell, Dub Taylor is a judge (sort of) and yet he wears a t-shirt about 3 sizes too small so his gut hangs out. Also, he holds the rape trial in the middle of a town dance and then tries to look down Uggams bra in the middle of it. Pickens is no better, in my opinion. During witness questioning back in the station, he is shown to be taking notes while Uggams speaks. His notes are revealed to be doodles of breasts and I think one of his questions was "did Eddie gnash on your titties?" Not appropriate law dog behavior I think.

This is a fucked up town and things only get worse. Eddie is acquitted in "a court of law" of all charges and is allowed to take Uggams home with him where he proposes to her, to the chagrin of Winters and, I think, Uggams. Fuck man, there's a dinner scene that doesn't leave Lurch (the resident dog lover) too happy. Also, Pickens has a semi-retarded son who provides the picture's funniest moment only you might have to pause your dvd to see it (it's during the climactic, slow-mo shotgun/wedding battle). This is a great movie, and certainly one that could not be made today. It's completely un-pc, with a view of the south that most would consider horrific. I don't know, I enjoyed the hell out of it. None of the characters were particularly too racist, although the N-word did come out once or twice. They weren't too malicious though, except for the raping and the eventual murder. Ok, they sucked, but I'm not explaining myself too well. This one just needs to be seen I guess.

This is, by no means, a bad movie. Do you like the way I structured that sentence? Seriously, it's not. It's a borderline art film based on that dog/rape scene. There's also supposed to be a front seat, in Uggam's car, fellatio scene which I fear was completely cut out of the edition I saw. I'm starting to take a real liking to these 70s "exploitation" films. Unfortunately, we'll probably never see an era like that again. I've seen this labeled as black sploitation, but I think that's inaccurate. Uggams could have been white and the film wouldn't really be that much different. If anything, we're exploiting the south with this thing. I don't know if small southern towns are truly like this, but I do know I will never be driving through one with a foreign piece of shit. Not that those hicks would take to raping me or anything, I'm not that pretty. I really have no idea where I'm going anymore with this critique. I do know where I'm not going though if that makes sense to y'all.


elmo said...

Yet the art is so snazzy... I just hope the transfer is good when I rent up the lil' fella.

brian said...

It's actually a pretty poor transfer which serves the film pretty well, I might add. Also, no end credits, the film just stops. Perfect.

You can get this on amazon for about $5, so I guess you are getting what you pay for in regards to the transfer. Still, more than worth it.