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One of the great undiscovered jewels of Truly Bad Cinema! It's almost
useless to try to write a commentary on this, because this film is
indescribable. Leslie Uggams (whose acting consists of exactly two
expressions, defensive and shrieking) plays a famous singer adrift in a
redneck landscape that's like the love child of Franz Kafka and HEE-HAW;
she's up against a horny young Elvis wannabee, Shelley Winters (surprise -
she's drunk through most of the film!), Slim Pickens, Dub Taylor, Ted
Cassidy, and a DELIVERANCE kid with a slingshot. What else can you say
a film that includes one of the most memorable montage sequences in film
history: Uggams' rape is intercut with Cassidy and his friends watching
goin' at it, while a lilting country tune plays over the soundtrack. Or
about the scene in which Slim Pickens (as the Sheriff!) interrogates poor
Leslie about her rape while begging her to "suck on one'a these tomatoes"?
This film screams (like poor Leslie) for a DVD release. Listen up, you distribs out there - this is the great lost cult film of the 70s, just lying around like some petrified critter waiting to be put on display. Pull out that jug of moonshine and enjoy!
An obscure treat! This flick deserves to be a new cult classic. It is rich in tawdry sick sexuality and over the top performances. Shelley Winters gives a tour-de-force as the faded burlesque beauty surrounded by a court of simpletons who indulge her fantasies and create a bizarre, Fellini-esque world of sad rejects. The twisted plot ostensibly centers around Leslie Uggams' hellish enslavement at a backcountry inn that makes the woods of "Deliverance" seem tame. But the real story is between Shelley and her men. This movie is fabulously tasteless!
One of the most deeply disturbing films of the early 70s, bar none,
POOR PRETTY EDDIE is also, at times, morbidly comical as well. A murky,
surreal tale centering on a black superstarlet singer(Leslie Uggams)
who becomes stranded alone in a small, backward Southern town. She
takes a room in a tumbledown lodge run by Shelley Winters and "Eddie",
her handsome "kept" boy. Eddie becomes discordantly smitten with
Uggams, rapes her, beats her, and vows his undying love to her as a
distraught Ms. Winters looks on.
Flush with heterodox characters and nightmarish imagery, POOR PRETTY EDDIE is a mind-bending, jaw-dropping, head-scratching freak-on-wheels which is equal parts effective and defective.
6.5/10...file under "uncategorizable".
This great but weird film is certainly among my favorites .Its probably not for all tastes ,but a superb film I think.Y'know its like that car wreck you can't take your eyes off it.The acting by all incredibly good !And the direction excellent. What makes this film so much better than a hundred exploitation films like it ? The detail in each scene is fascinating !I've often wondered what creating this film must have taken on the cast and crew etc. Its a real shame this piece of artistic fantasy remains obscure and forgotten .Maybe the powers that be want it that way ,no doubt.Fortunately I obtained the videotape many years ago. If you can find this ,grab a rare 70's cult classic (dare I say?).You won't believe your eyes .
I bought this film from a car boot sale in Finland (Yes, this wonderful
was apparently released in Finland as a rental in the early eighties.)
mainly because of its cover that suggested that it would be a
film. That it was not. Instead it proved to be a genuinely stylish piece
cinema with some upsetting (exploitation) scenes not unlike Texas Chainsaw
or The Last House on the Left. Probably, though it was not violent enough
compete with them or sick enough to challenge Pink Flamingos. So it was
never recognized and quickly forgotten. Anyhow, the thing that surprised
the most was that this film looked stunningly good. The compositions were
beautiful as was the lightning. The story was fast paced and had enough
twists to keep me interested till the end.
Sadly, however, there is one big minus to this film; it seems to me, that the filmmaker(s) were a bit too conscious with the "shocking" content of their script. Whenever an event with shock value occurs it is highlighted in the worst "look, we dare show this"- manner.
All in all a very enjoyable piece of trash with a difference- competence in filmmaking!
P.S. If you still have doubts after reading this I must say that any film that has both Shelley Winters and Slim Pickens cannot be nothing but good!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Outrageous from beginning to end, POOR PRETTY EDDY is one of the most
rewarding bits of cult Americana I've ever seen, and right up there
with OPEN SEASON (1974), SUPERVAN (1978), and SAVAGE WEEKEND (1976) as
examples of the best & worst of 1970's cinema wrapped up into 90 minute
As others have noted, POOR PRETTY EDDY concerns a popular black vocalist played by 70's game show favorite Leslie Uggams -- shown singing the National Anthem at a baseball game in the All-American opening segment -- who's car breaks down in what looks to be Aintry, which as we remember was where the boys in DELIVERANCE were trying to canoe to. The late Shelley Winters plays an insane, alcoholic washed up actress & local celebrity who runs a bar/hotel on the outskirts of town, with behemoth Ted 'Lurch' Cassidy as the local handyman instructed to fix Ms. Uggams' car while Winters puts her up at her lodge for a night or two of home cooked dinners, clowning around with the local boys, and most importantly catching the eye of Winters' son Eddie (or Eddy, played by producer Michael Christian), a dangerously psychotic Elvis impersonator with zero talent, prospects, or charm.
Eddy decides he's never seen nothing finer than this sophisticated, black woman from the city, decides the two of them make the perfect couple, tells to the local populace that he is going to make Uggams his bride, and announces his intentions to the singer from her bed as she returns to her room after deciding to get the living hell out of there. He rapes her repeatedly, and before we know it, Uggams is at the sheriff's office filing criminal charges to Slim Pickens in what might be his best screen role since HAWMPS, or maybe DR. STRANGELOVE. Pickens of course knows that poor Eddy wants to marry the little Phillie & explains that sometimes soon-to-be newlyweds have these kinds of disagreements. He agrees to look into the matter but urges Uggams to give the boy a chance, and in the film's most surreal moment offers up a bowl of garden fresh vegetables & suggests "Why don't you suck on one of them there tomaters, they'll make you feel real fine again."
So here is backwoods Americana as surrealism over a decade before CRY BABY or TWIN PEAKS, which is about the only things one can really compare it to but even that misses the mark. Winters' bar/hotel is one of the most unreal movie sets ever constructed (or a brilliantly chosen pre-existing location), the surrounding woods & hills cloak the community in a seemingly impenetrable veil that hides the goings on from the rest of the world in addition to isolating Uggams to any chance of help from the outside. The countryside is littered with derelict cars, heaps of hillbilly trash, roads that lead right back to where they started and all sorts of friendly local types who know she & Eddy will make a fine family, even if she ain't exactly of the local color. It all climaxes in a terrifying town hall meeting & ice cream social night, with insane Dub Taylor presiding over the ceremonies and where Eddy is set to perform, dedicating the first set to his new bride to be.
It's here that the film sort of takes a misstep & becomes predictable. First time through, however, this movie is a complete enigma, unlike anything you've ever seen. We know going into it that Uggams will be sexually violated and seek revenge, but just how these events take place is still -- thirty-one years after the film was made -- fresh, original, provocative, disturbing, hilarious and even somewhat endearing. Watching Slim Pickens steal the show as he shovels down a home cooked sit-down dinner is a joy to behold, Ted Cassidy has fun with his role of a huge lummox who isn't quite as dim witted as he might seem, and Shelley Winters once again delivers a performance as the local matriarch that does not feel like acting, so much as a creation of an alternate persona. She was a brilliant actress who took on a number of risky, low budget projects like this and infused them with a sense of vitality that went beyond what would have normally been expected. Without her presence the film just wouldn't have been the same, and it's story really is about her private, twisted world more than anything else.
Hitchcock would have loved it. Here is one of those movies that is for people who think they may have seen it all. Folks may make reference to the film being a farce or camp masterpiece, but it's more an example of kitsch, celebrating it's poor taste like ANDY WARHOL'S FRANKENSTEIN or OPEN SEASON and being hilarious at the same time while it's creeping you out. The trick is that the films manage to keep a straight face while presenting you with situations & actions that are so absurd they become surreal: More real then reality. In that vein of thinking then POOR PRETTY EDDY is another one of those 1970's urban paranoia pictures about sophisticated city folk meeting their match out in the sticks in the form of a community of crackers who's warped sense of reality is totally at odds with the laws of physics. That such places & people might really exist is not outside the realm of possibility, and while the film does exploit low-income rural yokels as stereotypes any negative connotations are blown away by an unseen hero emerging from the pack after deciding he'd had enough of it.
9/10: I'd give it a perfect score but it does go on for about 10 minutes longer than it really should have, with an obligatory blood bath ending that a distributor probably insisted on. But up until then this is a crackerjack slice of Americana, and highly recommended for 4th of July viewing.
Just found this on DVD today, in a much better transfer than the old
VHS versions. Let's face it, the film would be even more obscure, had
the producers not had the vision to cast Shelley as Bertha, the faded
beauty who "used to be an entertainer", but now owns a run down inn
that is way off the beaten path. She's also an alcoholic plagued with
loneliness and insecurity, which is somewhat relieved by Eddie, a good
looking but psychotic stud about 25 years younger, with whom she
maintains a desperate sexual and emotional relationship.
There is some debate about Shelley's acting, that her character is really just Shelley playing herself. That is an insult to the actress, who like any talented actor draws emotion from her own experiences. This is a tour-de-force performance, particularly when she explains to Leslie Uggams (in a very one-dimensional performance) that Eddie is all the man she's got, and at her age, there won't be any others. It's a heartbreaking scene that leaves no doubt about Miss Winters acting abilities. The crazy plot reminds me of HG Lewis' "2000 Maniacs". Slim Whitman has some choice lines. Entertaining in a "Bad Movie We Love" kind of way, this trashy treasure is worth seeking out.
In a decade full of memorable exploitation films, its a shame "Poor
Pretty Eddy" doesn't have a larger cult following. Its really a lost
gem from that great period of film-making. Its hilarious, demented,
bizarre, and actually a disturbing portrait of racism. Whether it was
included just to turn in a profit or not, the portrayal or racism in
this film is much more disturbing than anything offered by Hollywood
today. Its more effective than either "Crash" or "Monsters Ball" in my
mind, because it refuses to manipulate the audience. Maybe I'm looking
a bit too much into this however. For exploitation fans, it offers
plenty of sleazy and depraved delights.
The film is much more well made than any other hicksploitation film. The acting in particular is great and all the characters are memorable. Leslie Uggams makes a great heroine, both strong and sympathetic. Shelley Winters, Slim Pickens, and especially Michael Christian (playing the Elvis impersonator from Hell) are all over-the-top and campy yet fascinating and completely fitting to the material. Ted Cassidy is also a standout as the one likable redneck of the bunch, offering a strong performance (one of the films few flaws is that it doesn't develop some of the characters to their fullest potentials). The dialog is hilariously politically incorrect. "Poor Pretty Eddy" is one of the 70s best exploitation films. (8/10)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Popular jazz singer Liz Wetherby (played by real-life singer and 70's TV game show perennial Leslie Uggams) gets into big trouble when her fancy expensive breaks down in the middle of nowhere in the Deep South. Poor Liz runs afoul of both slimy, crazed, talentless wannabe Elvis gigolo Eddie Collins (deliciously overplayed with scuzzy aplomb by producer Michael Christian) and Bertha (a typically fat and juicy slice of prime histrionic ham by the one and only Shelley Winters), a faded former burlesque performer turned haggard and pathetic owner of a seedy lodge. Eddie sees Liz as his meal ticket out of the squalid hick hamlet where he's rotting away with the needy and neurotic Bertha. Eddie tries to force Liz to marry him, which begets tragic and disastrous consequences for everyone concerned. Director Richard Robinson uses several bizarre flourishes to relate the compellingly sordid and twisted story: he makes striking use of stunningly stylized slow motion for the more violent moments (think Sam Peckinpah on Quaaludes) and tastefully intercuts a brutal rape with footage of two mangy old coon dogs mating. David Worth's vivid, luridly picturesque cinematography and Grant Boatwright's wonky hillbilly bluegrass score add considerably to the pervasively scroungy atmosphere. The incredible cast includes Ted Cassidy (Lurch on "The Adams Family") as a browbeaten disfigured handyman, a hilarious Slim Pickens as a perverted degenerate good ol' boy sheriff, and Dub Taylor as an unhinged judge. The over-the-top gory bloodbath conclusion further enhances the overall tasty cheesiness of this choice rancid chunk of 70's Southern-fried drive-in exploitation swill.
Elizabeth Wetherly is a black jazz singer who's car breaks down in
backwoods hillbilly hell where she meet's faded starlet, Bertha (Shelly
Winters) and Eddie Collins, a wanna-be famous country crooner. Eddie
stalls on fixing Liz's car in order to hatch his devious plans much to
the chagrin of lovestruck Bertha. Soon Liz is stuck in a living
nightmare in this forgotten drive-in gem. The story not only holds up
quite well even 25 years after the film came out, but also trumps most
Hollywood films that deal with racism now. Never browbeating you,
instead just saying it matter of factly. This film should be better
known and is extremely watchable for the performances of Winters and
Slim Pickens alone. (the other actors do a great job as well, but seem
underdeveloped especially Ted Cassidy best known for being Lurch in the
Addams family, here as Keno). It also deserves better than the strictly
bare-bones DVD treatment it currently has.
My Grade: B+
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