The Sister in Law (1974) Poster

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A curiosity, and semi-interesting for fans of John Savage
me4311 July 2006
If you find this rare film on video, do yourself a favor and don't read the blurb on the back of the box. For some reason they give away the entire plot - including the ending! (It is called a "Suspense/Thriller" in the fine print. Giving away the ending ruins what little "suspense" it has. Drama is a better description for it.)

While there isn't an Amazon listing for the film; (it is long out-of-print on video), original copies can often be found on ebay, at a reasonable price.

"The Sister In Law" is notable for a very youthful John Savage sporting long hair and full beard, but don't expect the title to have much of anything to do with the plot.

Savage also wrote the music for the film, and performed 3 of his own songs. Savage's voice and style of composition would be more classified as "easy-listening with vocals" than any other style of music.

The film has a very early 70's feel; (not surprising as it was made in 1974)- but one wonders if we were ever this naive? Granted, '74 was an entirely different era, but even then, one would think twice about messing with the bad guys in that situation.

The acting of the ladies in the film consists mostly of disrobing, with some false-voiced sentences thrown in.

All in all it is Savage's film - non-fans won't find much here to interest them.
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good 70's flick
johnc214128 January 2009
The sister in law is one of those little known movies from the 1970's that slipped below the radar.the big star in this film is John Savage,who went on to star in; hair(78)the onion field(80)and the recent low budget horror flick;Christina's house(1999)this is about two brothers,one good one rotten,savage plays the good one.there's a love triangle,mafia dealings,and some drama.I'm not giving any spoilers away on this but i do recommend this movie as it is pretty good.the title makes it sound like an exploitation film,but it is'nt.its rated r so there's some violent scenes and nudity.the sister in law is a selection from the 8 movie boxed set called;drive in classics from;crown inter- national.i was very disappointed out by the ending,and i know most who view this movie will agree.i give sister in law 7 out of 10.its a pretty good little melodrama.
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better than expected for a "drive-in" flick
MisterWhiplash27 December 2008
The director of this film wasn't an amateur, even as it was his first feature. The Sister-in-Law is made not by some inept slacker looking for a couple of bucks of loose change, but someone who does care a little about his craft. This doesn't exactly make it very good but it does show that there is something going on, that dramatically the film actually makes sense, has some decent acting (or from John Savage very good acting) and even some sexy sex scenes where it's required. It's a fairly simple story of two brothers caught up in hazardous circumstances: one, Savage, is having affairs with the the wife and eventually the mistress of the other brother who is, in fact, in very hot water over a drug deal he was supposed to act as courier for over to Canada.

It follows their trials and tribulations in these matters, and for the typical drive-in crowd (it comes with a pack of eight movies from Crown entertainment) there are some typical pleasures like skinny dipping at night or some (almost) wacky gangster violence. But in reality this is really a low-key drama played out on personal stakes and put to a musical track by Savage himself that isn't half-bad, unlike most exploitation scores that are either bad or just non-existent in the talent sense. There's even a banjo-plucking number done during a chase scene that rings as some fun. Comparatively, indeed, out of the eight movies assembled (others include Best Friends and The Stepmother), this is more than likely the best. It's conventional marital-cum-crime drama at a professional level.
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A pleasingly quirky 70's dramatic thriller
Woodyanders9 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Nice guy Robert Strong (a fine and charming performance by John Savage) returns home after traveling all around America. Robert is reunited with his fiercely competitive failed writer and compulsive gambler brother Edward (a solid turn by Will MacMillan). Robert gets involved with Edward's sassy estranged wife Joanna (winningly played with saucy spirit by the stunningly gorgeous Anne Saxon). Things get more complicated when Edward asks Robert to do him a favor by driving to Canada and delivering a special package for him. Edward's adorable mistress Deborah Holt (an endearingly sweet portrayal by the extremely cute Meredith Baer) tags along for the ride. Writer/director Joseph Ruben, who later did such excellent thrillers as "The Stepfather" and "True Believer," concocts a decidedly offbeat and laid-back character-driven feature that's essentially about sibling rivalry and loyalty. Fortunely, the strong acting from Savage and MacMillan carries the film and keeps things engrossing throughout. Savage in particular is outstanding; he projects a very engaging sense of purity and naiveté as the wide-eyed Robert. Moreover, Savage also composed the neatly eclectic score and sings several terrific songs on the soundtrack. Bruce G. Sparks' polished cinematography likewise does the trick. The brutal surprise downbeat ending is absolutely devastating. Granted, this picture does deliver the expected tasty female nudity and a few hot soft-core sex scenes, but it's by no means your standard sleazy serving of 70's drive-in exploitation trash. Instead it's a satisfyingly idiosyncratic affair which qualifies as a real unjustly neglected sleeper.
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The Sister-in-Law
Scarecrow-8824 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Bobby returns home after spending a year and a half touring America "to find himself" and finds himself embroiled in an affair with his author brother's estranged wife Joanna. What's obvious almost from the get-go is that Joanna wants to cause her husband some grief, particularly since he's living with a girlfriend while she is staying with his parents(!)'s bad timing for Bobby who may've inherited a lot more than he could possibly realize. When Bobby, really a troubled young man with little aspirations it seems as far as a career is concerned, is introduced to Deborah, Edward's lover, he becomes enamored even though, at the same time, he's carrying on the affair with Joanna. Deb was a college student at Cambridge where Edward was lecturing and immediately smitten, she became his later lover. When Edward needs to be in Los Angeles the same time a package is to be picked up and delivered for his mob boss, he will appeal to Bobby for help(even "pimping" Deb away to go along out of desperation)which will yield tragic consequences..opening the package out of curiosity, Bobby and Deb will discover exactly what Edward's been helping his boss traffic for all that money in return, and a compulsive decision(which, while right in a moral way, will inevitably wreak havoc for Edward who needed the task itself to be fulfilled for his own personal safety)could lead to devastating results.

There's the alpha male pool basketball contest where Edward(who is older, stronger, and more taller than his younger brother)elbows Bobby in the face bleeding his mouth, Joanna and Deborah in a catfight(it starts with both pushing each other in the pool and escalates in Deb actually getting the better of her more devilish rival), Edward in deep with a mobster, Joanna instigating sexual liaisons with Bobby(clearly as a means to stir up Edward's ire), Bobby coerced into his brother's dangerous criminal life, Edward's betrayal of his own brother just to save his own hide, among other saucy ingredients in this 70's melodrama with overlaying music by John Savage himself(also portraying Bobby, in a method performance, excellent as expected), not to mention a juicy part for the delicious Anne Saxon as the salacious Joanna. W.G. McMillan is Edward, whose greed and own self worth drag Bobby into a mess not of his own making. Meridith Baer is the young lovely who also gets pulled into Edward's world because of his allure, soon falling in love with Bobby while on their trip to Quebec to receive the package. Shocking conclusion in grand CROWN INTERNATIONAL style. Both Anne Saxon and Meridith Baer shed their clothes in sex scenes with Savage. I just love the opening as Saxon walks down a city street with all eyes on her..she knows she's a sexy lady and revels in the fact that everyone's attention is focused intently on her. There's some interesting use of bluegrass in this movie, so out of place with the kind of characters assembled for SISTER-IN-LAW, yet somehow works. While I love Saxon in this movie, she really isn't the focal point as we might be led to believe(..which is kind of a shame, but this movie takes off in a completely different direction than first realized by opening with her).
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Good Brother in Bad Situation
jess-1230 August 2000
Robert (Savage) comes home from a long trip to find things quite different between his brother Edward (McMillan) and sister-in-law Joanna (Saxon). Edward admits to Robert that he's taken a mistress named Deborah (Baer), but he hasn't totally abandoned his wife either and proves this by bringing Deborah to the house when Joanna is home. At first, both ladies are cordial to one another and actually appear friendly. Later, the two start a cat fight and push each other into the pool - all while Edward and Robert are watching from the window. Eventually, both Joanna and Deborah fall for Robert's boyish charm and humor and he develops relationships with both of them - behind Edward's back. In time, Edward tells Robert he is in a jam and asks if he would go and pick up a package for him in Canada since he can't do it himself. Robert obliges, but unwillingly. As an extra incentive, Edward sends Deborah along for the ride to make the job more "appealing". After Robert gets the package, he opens it and realizes he's now involved in something he never wanted part of. But, this was all part of Edward's plan in the first place and now he has left his little brother to take the fall for him in the surprising ending.

This movie is entertaining, but not really a zinger. The only performance I enjoyed was John Savage's as he was clearly the star of this picture. Matter of fact, of the four lead actors, he is the only one who went on to achieve major fame in the industry. Now I understand why Savage received accolades for his singing and composing of the songs in this picture -- they are really great. I knew he was a singer from his Broadway days and his role in the movie "Hair", but I had to rewind this video at least twice because the final two songs were sung so well that I couldn't believe it was him. If you are a John Savage fan, try to rent this one - at least to hear his great musical compositions.
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The title is the sleaziest thing about this movie
Wizard-88 March 2012
Crown International Pictures usually had a good idea as to what drive-in product would appeal to an audience, so if you've seen this pick-up, you might be wondering along with me as to what C.I.P. saw in this exercise in boredom. The movie has a pre-fame John Savage in its cast, though his performance here is nothing to sing about. (And speaking of singing, Savage also warbles a couple of terrible-sounding songs on the movie's soundtrack.) The movie does have a healthy amount of nudity and sex, but its presented in such an ordinary way that it isn't the least bit erotic. Also, the low budget apparently affected the sound recording, because some dialogue is so muffled that it's hard to make out what's being said. But the biggest problem the movie has is that it's so slow, so uneventful for the most part, chances are you'll fall asleep before the end. Insomniacs may go for this movie, others best avoid it.
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A Low Budget, Slow, but Watchable Minor 1970's Drug Movie
jayraskin5 January 2012
This has six or seven nude scenes and four or five straight two-minute love-making scenes without cuts or camera movement. Take away those 15 minutes and we have a simple tale of two brothers and their hostile, but ultimately loving relationship.

John Savage is quite good. This was only his second, low budget, starring role. His character is undeveloped, as is much of the plot, but he is likable.

It is director's Joseph Rueben's first film. He went on to make a number of memorable ones, including "Dreamscape," and "Sleeping with the Enemy". He gives a nice sense of realism with scenes that are naturalistic and underacted. This is nice resume reel that shows he knows the basics of movie-making. There's a certain sweetness to the movie that makes it closer to hippie movies of this era like "Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring" than the usual exploitation films with bad innuendos, one dimensional characters and quick imitation sex scenes.

It is sad that Anne Saxon who plays the sister-in-law did not make any more movies. She plays her part with charm and fun.

Watch it as an independent, low budget character study and you might enjoy it. Watch it as an sexploitation flick and you'll be disappointed.
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Introduction to Mr Ruben
Chris Haskell19 December 2011
As the first movie I have seen out of the 32-pack of "Drive-In Cult Classics" by Mill Creek, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. Joseph Ruben would continue directing for the next 30 years after this debut film, and it's no surprise as you can see his talent, especially when compared to a lot of the other trash that was being made at that time. Everything about this movie fits perfectly into the drive-in formula (softcore nudity/sex, etc), but it doesn't use these as a crutch, rather stands well on its own as a story. The script leaves a little something to be desired in terms of character depth, but Ruben tried to layer them, and the audience is treated to a clever twist. Definitely not a great movie, but not a terrible one and by far one of the better in the genre.
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Nudity Was Highlight of This Film
Greatornot21 January 2010
This was a predictable, stupid movie, that bored the hell out of me. Other than some steamy scenes, this film was a yawner. Sibling rivalry that just never seemed believable. These 2 baby faced brothers were comical with acting that was , well, lets just say not good. The film had the feel of an X-rated film with a lot less nudity and just did not deliver. Throw in a gangster ,secondary plot and the film was downright silly.Lust, seduction and lousy dialogue, made for a movie that was anything but special. Save your time folks. For the gentlemen that want to see nudity and beyond, you may as well go all out and watch a true X-rated film.
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