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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After odious drug dealer Buck Madison (a pleasingly slimy portrayal by
Richard Rust) accidentally murders the white boyfriend of Lola Montalvo
(a fine and appealing performance by Rita Moreno), Lola seeks to get
revenge on Buck. This all culminates in a wild race riot at the home of
amiable rich guy Winnie (the extremely engaging Kenny Miller) involving
not only white, black, and Mexican gangs, but also a couple of
undercover cops and even Lola's honest working class dad Pappa Montalvo
(well played with moving dignity by Jay Novello).
Director Richard L. Bare, working from a gutsy script by Morris Lee Green, relates the absorbing story at a steady pace, addresses the ugly and thorny hot button issue of racism in an admirably frank and provocative manner, maintains an earnest tone throughout, and vividly captures the turbulence of the early 1960's. This movie further benefits from solid acting from a capable cast, with especially sturdy contributions from Mark Damon as likable narc Frank Serano, Gerald Mohr as the no-nonsense Lt. Robert Brooks, Tom Gibson as Buck's brutish enforcer Muscles, Dyan Cannon as ditsy moll Wiggles, and Richard Laurier as Lola's angry and overprotective brother Manuel. The sharp black and white cinematography by Monroe Adams makes neat use of fades and dissolves. David Rose's spare jazzy score hits the snazzy spot. Only the obviously tacked-on gratuitous soft-core nude and sex scenes cheapen this otherwise praiseworthy film.
This is yet another exploitational release from Something Weird Video.
This particular DVD features a double-feature--this film and "Murder in
"Black Rebels" (also known as "The Rebel Breed") is about juvenile delinquents--in particular, kids who resort to racially motivated crimes. To combat this problem, the cops send two recent police academy graduates to a local high school to pose as students. However, the guys playing 'students' were 27 and 23 years of age! In fact, none of these teens looked close to being teenager. And, to make it worse, one of these pseudo-teens looks silly, as he's supposed to play a guy who is a biracial Latino--but this effect was achieved by painting his skin--it's quite obvious. And, oddly, some times he is a lot more black-looking than others!!
Despite the silly casting, the film doesn't pull a lot of punches--at least when it comes to sex. This movie, despite claiming to address serious social ills and sporting some real honest-to-goodness actors, is pure sleaze from start to finish. Under the guise of 'education', the film makers were able to insert (perhaps a bad choice of words) a lot of material that normally would have never been allowed in films due to the production code that was still in effect in 1960. Over-age students groping breasts, wiggling breasts of girls wearing just a push-up bra and panties as well as lots of sexual innuendos make this an interesting film--even if the quality is suspect...very, very suspect! It's pure trash--but the sort of trash you just can't stop watching!! Plus, at the 26 minute mark (to begin with) you get to see a WHOLE LOT MORE of some of the young ladies!! In fact, it's clear that this nudity was added later to spice up the movie--as it is edited into the film poorly and with no context. Plus, the film I watched was five minutes longer than the running time listed on IMDb. I just can't imagine a lot of these actors willingly appearing in such a salacious film.
A couple actresses to look out for is a young and quite pretty Rita Moreno in the female lead (age 29). This is before her breakout appearance in "Westside Story" (for which she won an Oscar) and I am sure she never would have made "This Rebel Breed" if she'd done the other movie first!! The other, in a much smaller role, is Dyan Cannon (23)--playing a girl named 'Wiggles'. Pretty subtle, huh?! Fortunately for their careers, they kept their clothes on throughout.
So is it worth seeing apart from the value as sleaze or because of curiosity in seeing Moreno and Cannon? Well, if you are looking for a good film, keep on looking. But, like a good old train wreck, there is just something about this film that keeps you looking. It's certainly bad, but funny at the same time. My score of 2 is because of the low quality of the film overall. But entertainment-wise (for bad film buffs), this one gets a 9!
By the way, this film was co-directed by Richard L. Bare. No, despite the name, he was not a porn director but became famous for directing such wholesome family fare as "Green Acres" and "Petticoat Junction"!
My favorite line in the film--"Son, get yourself a haircut...before someone makes a pass at you". I also loved the 37 minute mark where the two guys are wiggling about in a strange manner with topless ladies while a third lady has their back to them--dancing the Twist! What's with THAT?! Who thought up this crazy scene?!
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