A cynical look at the life of a not so nice country-western singer, Maury Dann - played by Rip Torn in one of his most memorable performances. He ruthlessly manipulates every one around him... See full summary »
Just released from prison, a young woman arrives in town to "start a new life", but soon begins stalking a married construction worker for no apparent reason, turning his life inside out and eventually terrorizing him and his wife.
Dennis Pitt, now in young adulthood, has been conditionally released from a psychiatric hospital, where he had been institutionalized for an incident that occurred when he was fifteen. Despite the doctors believing he to be rehabilitated in not suffering from the fantasies which dominated his life, Dennis is still required to check in with his case officer, Morton Azenauer, once a week. Azenauer will do whatever he can to help Dennis survive in the outside world. A year following his release, Dennis violates the conditions of his release by moving without telling Azenauer, thus missing his weekly check-ins. He moves to Winslow, Massachusetts where he has gotten a job at Sausenfeld Chemical Co., his boss, Bud Munsch, the company, and his acquaintances in town not aware of his history. In not being truly rehabilitated, Dennis believes the company is part of an alien conspiracy to poison the water supply, including openly discharging chemical waste into the local lake next to the plant. ... Written by
Boy. What a week. I met you on Monday, fell in love with you on Tuesday, Wednesday I was unfaithful, Thursday we killed a guy together. How about that for a crazy week, Sue Ann?
Sue Ann Stepanek:
I was just joking, Sue Anne. That was in another country. Forget it. I do, no kidding, love you. I love you.
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It mixes elements of Gun Crazy with Lolita and Night of the Hunter and may have influenced Terrence Malick's Badlands and Billy Bob Thornton's Sling Blade. With this I want to say, Pretty Poison is a very American and good and memorable movie.
It has the best performance of Anthony Perkins I have ever seen. And I have seen Hitchcock's Psycho. He plays a character who, like Billy Liar, lives in a kind of a fantasy world (he is not a teenager however, but well past 30) a potential Lee Harvey Oswald, I guess. His confused state of mind is exploited by a premature, smart and amoral girl, played by Tuesday Weld who is also terrific. The world this confused character had constructed for himself and which gave him some kind of self confidence and cockiness crumbles fast and leaves him a helpless, quivering bundle.
There are some quirky details which lift the story from the ruts of formulaic story telling. The lower middle class girl drives a snazzy powder blue Triumph convertible sports car, the couple make excursions into the wilderness, the Perkins character has a nightmarish night out in hiding, with hooting owls, red lizards and headlights piercing the forest. It all has a slightly surrealistic quality which reflect the character's state of mind and gives the movie a dream like quality. The dialog is also good the best scene for me was Perkin's phone call to the local sheriff in order to report a murder. Check it out.
In the final scene the girl meets a new boyfriend. I bet this is young Joe Pesci, but he is not in the credits. - Thanks to the IMDb message board I know now that I would have lost the bet. Still, it's a pleasant and exciting discovery.
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