Friday, June 29, 2007

Search and destroy the glove

Last night was the night for Drive-In Double Feature: Search and Destroy / The Glove. I hadn't taken the opportunity to see any of the previous Drive-In Double Feature disks from Dark Sky Films, although several are lingering on my Netflix queue.

For those reading this, who are only discovering the experience of the trashy double feature through the recent movie Grindhouse, I must say this package is a terrific way to experience what that experience might have been like in real life. Ok, well, you'll have to supply your own sticky floor and unconscious transients.

Anyway, The Gore-met has a great column in the most recent issue of Rue Morgue, "The Gore-met calls out Grindhouse", in which he describes in non-romanticized terms what the grindhouse theaters showed. Not having direct experience with grindhouses in my neck of the woods, but having spent a couple of hours of my youth more than I ought to have drooling over drive-in ads for double features I'd never get the chance to see, I can say that this would have been a pretty credible drive-in line up in 1979.

Search and Destroy, starring Perry King, Don Stroud, Tisa Farrow and George Kennedy, opens the bill. It is a solid movie in the Vietnam Vet trying to settle into normal life, but the war catching up to him vein. The 1978 shooting schedule, according to IMDb, suggests it to be one of the earliest of this cycle. The action is pretty unengaging, but the acting is good all around. The biggest selling point is the wonderful cinematography, by René Verzier, that captures the Niagara Falls locations beautifully. It also does an excellent job of capturing its time and place, looking more like the '70s looked like, to my memory, than any movie I can think of.

The second feature is The Glove, starring John Saxon, Rosey Grier and Joanna Cassidy. This movie is considerably better than the first - arguably a flaw in the packaging, since it would be rare for the stronger feature to close a real double feature - with a genuinely somber, Chandler-esque tale of a down on his luck bounty hunter, searching for an ex-con who is way out of his league. The story focuses more on the drama than the action, although both work well. Leaving me with the thought that Saxon could indeed have made fine Philip Marlowe, given the right opportunity.

Overall, neither is a lost masterpiece, hidden from acclaim or notice by their low budget, exploitation nature. Both are merely entertaining, well-acted action thrillers. If you'd gone to a grindhouse theater or drive-in to see this in 1979, you wouldn't have thought much surprising about the experience. It would have been somewhat above average, but in line with the expectation. Frankly, I found it nearly perfect as a recreation of an evening I never quite had, but always imagined. Thanks to the folks at Dark Sky.

NOTE: The title was supposed to read as a single sentence involving destroying the glove. I realize this does not really work, but I'm leaving it as is anyhow.


Marty McKee said...

SEARCH AND DESTROY used to be an HBO perennial back in the day. I bet I saw it or parts of it several dozen times (since it's a PG, it ran at all times of day). It's not great, but it does have that good cast, some decent action scenes (could have used a couple more), and great locations.

THE GLOVE is pretty wacky stuff with Rosey Grier running around calling people "hound dog." My favorite scene is the one in which Keenan Wynn blows his line, John Saxon laughs, then Wynn starts the scene over again...why the hell is this obvious blooper still in the movie??

I'm looking forward to seeing both on DVD in their OARs. I come!

Justin said...

I'm a huge fan of the film Grindhouse and I've been actively seeking out "real" grindhouse films.

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