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Bill, a wealthy businessman, confronts his junkie daughter's drug-dealing boyfriend; in the ensuing argument, Bill kills him. Panic-stricken, he wanders the streets and eventually stops at a bar. There he runs into a drunken factory worker named Joe, who hates hippies, blacks, and anyone who is "different", and would like to kill one himself. The two start talking, and Bill reveals his secret to Joe. Complications ensue. Written by
Perhaps the ultimate 60's generation gap exploitation film ...
... "Joe" captures the spirit, fears, angers, and prejudices of the time as perhaps no other film does. Joe Curran, as played by Peter Boyle, is a super-malevolent Archie Bunker to the n-th degree. He makes the Carroll O'Connor - Norman Lear TV character seem as lovable and cuddly as Tickle Me Elmo by comparison. In contrast to Bunker, Joe Curran most definitely would burn a cross on your front lawn, instead of just toasting a marshmallow on one he found already burning there, to borrow the words of young Lionel Jefferson, spoken to Sammy Davis Jr. about Archie Bunker. Released hard on the heels of the Kent State University "massacre", and the CSNY track "Ohio", and the Isley Bros. medley of "Ohio" and Jimi Hendrix's "Machine Gun", it's as hard-hitting as the probably by now mostly forgotten fall 1968 CBS TV play, "The People Next Door". Bill Compton's ironic comment about the vacuity of much upper-echelon white-collar work, "All we do is sit around all day making little paper airplanes and sail them up people's asses !" is as relevant today as it was then. Equally memorable is the retort of the hippie girl Joe has just had sex with, "How could I lie to you ? You just balled me !" Free love as a hippie litmus of truth ? The film is as much a part, and sign of, its times, as Altamont, "Gimme Shelter", "Putney Swope", and "M.A.S.H." and "Patton" playing on the same bill in many theaters in 1971. Joe Curran's "42 % of all liberals are queer !" is a worthy companion prejudice to Archie Bunker's "England is a fag country !"
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