The Florida Connection (1976) Poster

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Slow-moving "action tale" redeemed by quirky performances
exoticafan28 April 2003
The main reason to search out this OOP video is for the presence of figure-model June Wilkinson, and regional character actor Bill Thurman. As most fans know, Wilkinson was a sometime model for Playboy and various "glamor" magazines in the 60s and 70s. With her 44" bust and exotic good looks, it is a shame that she was not featured in more movies. The Florida Connection gives her two scenes that show off her best physical assets in skimpy bikinis, and at least three scenes that show her dramatic intent. The most uncomfortable of these is an extended attack by a drunken henchman on Wilkinson, with her expression of revulsion rather than fear. Wilkinson has other scenes that hint of a latent acting talent, but this laid-back tale gives her precious few opportunities to show them. Wilkinson fans may be disappointed that she does not show up until 23 minutes into the movie that she "co-stars" in. Thurman gained limited cult status usually portraying sweaty, beefy, obnoxious support characters. Mostly known for appearing in Larry Buchanan features like Mars Needs Women and Curse of the Swamp Creature, Thurman appeared in other exploitation movies filmed in the South and Texas like S.F. Brownrigg's Keep My Grave Open and the rare John Agar effort, Night Fright. The Florida Connection features his quintessential role as a slovenly kidnapper and rookie drug smuggler. His first scene establishes his character; he is seen with unbuckled overalls huddled over a barely legal, naked teen in the corner of a messy horse stall. The movie itself is, at times, ponderous, with an atmosphere that spends more time establishing the breezy, palm tree ambiance of the Florida coast than a sense of impending danger. One would expect at least a little tension in a movie about drug smugglers. The limited action is handled well, as well as the detail given supplementary characters: racist sheriff, the alcoholic lackey, etc. Recommended to followers of regional film making (especially the state of Florida) and fans of the above actors.
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Not good but, surprisingly, not bad.
dinky-414 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This has the look of one of those amateur-night-in-Dixie productions. The leading man is a graduate of the NFL School of Dramatic Arts, the leading lady has posed for one too many centerfolds, and the plot -- played out in redneck country -- involves little more than the standard corrupt-cops-vs-marijuana-smugglers with the usual chases, shoot-outs, and "Hee Haw" type supporting players.

Surprisingly enough, the final result isn't half bad, though fans of this sort of thing may find the proceedings a bit slow and somewhat short of the hoped-for action -- both in and out of the bedroom. As for the ending, it seems deliberately vague, thus leaving it for the viewer to decide if the forces of law-and-order win out over the course of true love.

Whether football quarterback Dan Pastorini made this movie simply as a lark or as a serious attempt to fashion an acting career may never be firmly established, but he doesn't seem to have the looks, presence, or talent to be anything more than an on-screen curiosity of only limited interest. That said, it should be added that he doesn't embarrass himself and usually hovers somewhere in the "adequate" range by B-movie standards.

Given that Pastorini dropped his jockstrap for a nude photospread in the December 1980 issue of Playgirl magazine, it's odd that his "beefcake" scenes in this movie are so few and so modest. The best comes when he walks into a steam-room wearing nothing but a towel around his waist and another towel around his neck, but that's about it. He does wear tight pants, however, and he's posed, now and then, with his back toward the camera, thus giving the audience teasing views of his firm, trim bottom.
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