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Deadly Rivals is A Very Strange And Unusual Movie For 1972
climbingivy27 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Deadly Rivals is a very strange and unusual story for the year 1972.I purchased this movie several years ago on VHS tape because of Joan Hackett being the leading lady in the film.The first time that I watched the movie, I was thinking weird and very very strange.I watched the movie again not too long ago,and I liked it better the second time around.This is not a movie for most people. You have to like strange offbeat stories.The actors Joan Hackett, Robert Klein, and Scott Jacoby were very good.Joan Hackett was really good as the mother who cannot figure out what to do with her bad son.Scott Jacoby as the son was effective. Scott Jacoby was a wonderful actor for as young as he was.I recommend this movie if you want to see a movie that is not in the mainstream.I have this movie.
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Way Ahead Of It's Time
jamie-8122 December 2000
An underrated classic - superbly done. Scott Jacoby as "the bad seed" is eerily on target. Robert Klein is great as the neglected stepfather. Joan Hackett gives one of her best performances as a woman who's torn between her son and her spouse. No spoilers here: Just keep in mind that this was filmed in 1972. This movie (with a tragic ending) was way ahead of it's time.
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A confounding absurdity...
moonspinner5530 January 2007
Joan Hackett--usually a strong, dependable actress--gets saddled with a silly role this time, playing a single mom who falls in love again, only to have her deranged pre-teen son interfere in her newfound happiness. Foolish soap opera is given a slight boost by Robert Klein (!) as Hackett's new beau, but Scott Jacoby is lost in the one-note role of the peculiar youngster. Wobbly low-budget film never seems sure what it wants to be: Oedipal thriller, relationship melodrama, psychological tragedy. In the end, it is none of the above, with a crippling final act that is played for the sensational. The jazzy background score by Peter Matz (!), complete with a romantic opening tune, is woefully out of place in this mother-son mishmash. Strictly for curio value. *1/2 from ****
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A low-budget gem from the 70's
Bill Davis22 September 2008
I first saw this on TV when I was a teenager, a few years after it was made, and it made quite an impression on me. Now, 30 years later I was able to finally see it again on an old VHS tape, and it still impresses. It would be easy to dismiss it because of it's low budget, bland music, and occasional pretensions, but it nevertheless tells a classic story: a humorless, frustrated divorcée finds a fresh romance with a young man who is so outgoing he borders on being obnoxious. He's very different from her former husband, but may be just what she needs. But her precocious son starts to act out against this intrusion on his relationship with his mother. He despises everything about the new boyfriend that his mother finds so refreshing -- with tragic results. This film represents one of those rare instances when a low-budget actually enhances a film, and makes it more authentic and believable. Contrary to some of the other reviews here, it is not a "Bad Seed" kind of movie. A sex scene in the movie, involving the boy and his sitter, would probably result in criminal charges today. Scott Jacoby was an extraordinary young actor. BAXTER! is another film of his I haven't seen in 30+ years. I would love to see it as well.
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Simply not very good
Leofwine_draca8 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
RIVALS is an independent psychological drama from 1972, shot on the rain-swept streets of New York with an unknown cast. The main story is a three-hander of sorts between a mother, her boy, and the man she falls in love with. To put it bluntly, it's not very well made, although Code Red have done a good job of presenting it nicely for their DVD release. The film has touches of horror in its depiction of the child, who turns out to be something of a psychotic character whose full fury is unleashed come the admittedly powerful climax. Until that point, it's all rather slow and stodgy, stuck with irritating characters (the mother's love interest is particularly annoying) and dodgy scenes, like the bit where the boy attempts to seduce his own babysitter.
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Only in the Seventeez
AlexanderAnubis1 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Rivals (1972) aka Deadly Rivals

May Contain Spoilers

Here we go:

Most of the score is terrible; occasionally there are some pop-jazz harmonies that scream simulated culture as loudly as Epcot Center. Prolonged exposure would cause tinnitus, headache, blurred vision and nausea progressing to nosebleed, unconsciousness, cerebral hemorrhage and death.

Scott Jacoby is not only precocious, he's precocious on steroids, and it's fairly common knowledge that long term abuse of those chemicals can turn human beings into aliens. Some aliens are cute 'n cuddly while others can make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. I don't know if Oedipus was precocious, but I'm quite certain he never used steroids.

At times the eye behind the viewfinder saw things in SoapOperaVision.

From the positive review by Bill Davis: "A sex scene in the movie, involving the boy and his sitter, would probably result in criminal charges today." Which is a nice way of saying that it may cross the kiddie-porn line - it came a bit too close for my complete comfort.

But even with the above, and some other problems, I was still fascinated by this movie. Joan Hackett, (who was almost always dependable), and Robert Klein are quite good and surprisingly likable. And there are some parts that are genuinely funny and genuinely strange.

Just for the sake of oddity, this may deserve a look, I think.

*** Semi-Spoilers ***

This story doesn't have a happy ending: some refer to what happens as tragic - I would call it grisly.

Also Klein tells the following pretty good joke, (although the dollar amount firmly dates it):

"My father was an analyst. You know, someone who borrows your watch, tells you the time, and charges you fifty dollars."

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Barely passable drama
John Seal2 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This under-heated drama, issued with the deceptive title Deadly Rivals by our friends at Continental Video, features Joan Hackett as the mother of budding pre-pubescent filmmaker Scott Jacoby. When Hackett is accosted on the street by a fledgling Manhattan tour guide (a young and annoying Robert Klein), romance is in the air, and Klein and Jacoby are soon bumping heads and competing for the same woman. The screenplay is low key to the point of inducing sleep, but Hackett is very good and the film features marvelous verite footage of Big Apple streets. On the debit side of the ledger, Peter Matz' score is cloying at best, and features some of the most annoying 'harmony pop' vocals you're ever likely to encounter. You could do worse, but this is far from being anything special.
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Interesting idea that misfires
rwint16 June 2001
Highly offbeat story about a very unusual relationship between a mother and son. This comes to a point when the mother remarries, which makes the son fall into all sorts of jealous and dangerous behaviors. Jacoby, as the son, is quite good, but the film misfires. This is partially due to a very choppy pacing that jumps from the lighthearted, to the dramatic, to the suspenseful, to the completly bizarre. Also has a awful, awful music score that sounds like it was taken from " Sesame Street".
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nutsy25 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
The late 60s-early 70s rush of independent films was a good thing and many good films came of it, but RIVALS is one of the bad films to come from this. This is THE GOOD SON for the 70s without talent or forethought.


It is basically about a boy living with his mother in New York who makes his own films and doesn't want any man to interfere with their lives. The mother is lonely, and naturally wants to have a man in her life. The boy rejects all his mother's suiters and spends his time making Sesame Street-type films with neighborhood kids. When his mother falls for the most irritating man imaginable (he basically taunts her into bed with him), the son becomes isolated and weird. We see his films, which become like an acid inspired orgy, crossed with the mother making love to her man and memories. In one disturbing scene the mother confesses to a friend that giving birth to her son was "like an orgasm". The thing is like a confused and poorly made Oedipus story. The boy argues with his mother and his step-father and goes revenge-crazy. The shocker climax in which the mother is killed is poorly handled and feels simply cruel rather than dramatic or purposeful. This is a really poor attempt to make a psychodrama about a disturbed child.


This acid-age indie mess is worth missing. If you want a good on-the-fringe picture from the time, you can't do better than MEAN STREETS. If you're looking for another movie like this, good luck finding it, but if you do BURN IT! Mistakes like this should be tracked down and destroyed.
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