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Jody, a juvenile delinquent, escapes from reform school by stabbing a matron and attempting to burn down the building and then takes refuge in a house owned by an ambitious politician David Patton. Despite the hellcat's ample charms, the would-be officeholder wants nothing to do with her and tries to drive her away. She responds by shortly returning to his house accompanied by a gang of delinquent pals and taking him hostage. A sudden act of violence causes more trouble, leading Jody and her gang to hijack David and force him to drive a getaway car to Mexico. Written by
I can't fully explain it, but this movie really works for me on several levels. I recorded it off of late night American Movie Classics about a week ago, and after viewing it once, I absolutely could not resist the urge to watch it again, and have kept the tape for future viewing.
There's just something about this movie. It has a surreal story premise that borders on the realm of ludicraciousness (that's not a real word, I just made it up. And I'm not really a film critic; I just play one on the Internet.) Anyway, where was I...
Oh yes, the basic plot: it's about a quad of juvenile delinquents, the foremost of whom is Jody Dvorak (Ann-Margaret), who hold oh-so-square aspiring San Diego politician David Stratton (John Forsythe) hostage in his own house. His wife and daughter are conveniently out of town for a few days, allowing for the implausible story to take place primarily in the politician's own house. The JD's act with varying degrees of incomprehensibly strange behavior: they are edgy, neurotic, violent, confused, and... poetic. Poetic? Yes, really! They glibly drop lines of dialogue that could easily have been written by Beat poets of the late 50's/early 60's.
The movie is filmed in glorious black and white, and should instantly appeal to all who are fans of the black and white medium. Plus, the very stylish B&W cinematography, with its vaguely gothic light and shadow effects, more than compensates for an otherwise cheapie studio set. Even if you are not a fan of black and white, or are at least "neutral" on the subject, I urge you to check out this film just to catch a glimpse of filming the way it used to be.
The movie buzzes along at a fairly fast clip, and eventually they all end up in Tijuana, Mexico, further adding to the surreal quality of the story. It helps to listen attentively to the dialogue much of it serves to tie together the scatter-shot plot elements. But it also has a surreal feel to it. Nobody talks or says things the way they do in this movie any more (or did they ever??). Yes, the dialogue and the B&W cinematography are two compelling reasons to watch the film. But perhaps the main reason to see it is: yeah, you guessed it...
Ann-Margaret. I've never really followed A-M, only being aware of her from a few of her films such as Carnal Knowledge and 52 Pick-up. Well, she is utterly dazzling in this film (funny, but there are a few spots in the film where I saw an uncanny resemblance to a younger Christina Applegate (Kelly Bundy, from "Married, with Children") of course I guess if you think about it, Kelly Bundy always was one step away from joining the ranks of JD's). If for nothing else, watch this movie to see some nice work done by A-M early in her career.
Anyway, I heartily recommend this movie to all die-hard classic film buffs, to those who want to see something in film bearing the mark of an earlier time - before movies got some damnably slick and high-tech. You, as I, may smile (or groan) a few times during this movie, but it will be a forgiving smile, a warm smile born of nostalgia for a simpler time.
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