Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Hitch Hike (1977)

Director: Pasquale Festa Campanile

Starring: Franco Nero, Corinne Clery & David Hess

More Info: IMDB

Plot: A bickering couple driving cross-country pick up a murderous hitchhiker whom threatens to kill them unless they take him to a santuary, and in return agrees to split some bank loot he has on him.

My Rating: 9/10

Would I watch it again? You bet your sweet ass

#36 on 42nd Street Forever Vol. 1 (part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT)

There are many things that can make or break a movie. The ending is one of them. Lately I have been watching a lot of movies with truly amazing endings - some are films I've seen before and some are not. Like any one element of a film, a movie cannot be saved by a great ending. I don't care how good it is, if the picture is shit...then it's shit with a great ending and not worth sitting through for its attempt at redemption. But a great ending can enhance a picture with some questionable elements like acting, editing, lackluster camerawork, etc. After reading the plot and seeing the trailer, if that's all you know about this, you may think that this probably falls into that category. You're probably saying to yourself, "I've seen this type of picture before. How good could it possibly be?" All I should say is watch it and see for yourself. But I can't bring myself to do only that.

"Badass in waiting..."

The story sounds pedestrian, sure, but the beauty is in the execution. You think you know where it's going and it changes direction - not once but several times. Franco Nero is one of the best, if not the best, Italian badasses of the 70s. He's somewhat of a subdued badass in this one as the miserable journalist husband to the boss's FREAKIN' HOT daughter of nine years played by Clery. They bicker like most couples at that point in their marriage and you get the impression that their relationship is strained but salvageable yet only needs one major event to sever it completly. So right off the bat you're put on edge and pretty much stay there until the end. And, oh, what an end it is.

Say that reminds me, Clery shows off her acting "talents" throughout the film. Nice. She does a fine job as well. Btw, even though this is an Italian production, shot in Italy to look like the American South West, with two of the three leads being non-English, they do a fine job in their own dubbing. I've always dug Nero's accent and have long wished he would go back and dub his star-making role as the titular character in 1966's spaghetti western, DJANGO. The actor chosen to dub his voice back then was terribly miscast.

When I first watched this film about a year ago I thought Hess' performance was way over the top. It still is to a point on my second viewing but it's not as bad as I had remembered. He does give it a bit too much at times but then he is supposed to be a psychopathic nut job. I haven't know enough psychopathic nut jobs in my life to tell how accurate his portrayal is. From what I remember from his performance in THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972, directed by Wes Craven) he's pretty much doing the same thing in this one. It's more than obvious that Nero is THE MAN in their scenes together which is all of them.

"See if you can spot the REAL actor"

Naturally, this being a 70's Italian crime/thriller, there's plenty of nudity and much of it to the courtesy of Clery. There's one scene in particular that will make you feel unclean as its intention. Clery is raped (or is she?) by Hess with Nero forced to watch. It's more than just another rape scene and there's a helluva lot being said without resorting to speech. It's a remarkable scene.

The story is very engaging, the performances even more so, the editing is tight, and Ennio Morricone's music is outstanding. What you hear in the trailer is the meat of the score and it's incredibly effective throughout. He also wrote some lame-ass singalong song some campers sing in the beginning that pops in and out of the film. I could have done without it because it's so lame and catchy. It does serve a purpose, too, and provides an unusual service to the film that only enhances it and, after seeing it twice now, would be a loss if it were removed.

"...From my cold, dead hands and smokin' body!"

And then there's the end. I don't spoil movies. I especially stay clear of getting close to a spoiler when it concerns a good movie such as this. I don't have much of a problem, though, when the movie's a steaming pile of shit that needs to be avoided at all costs. I will say this, you are engaged in this film for its first 100 minutes and then the final 4 minutes will bitch-slap you across the room leaving you no choice but to yell out, "HOLY SHIT", or "FUCK YEAH". All I can say now is watch it and see for yourself.

The DVD from Anchor Bay is fantastic. You get a great 1:85 anamorphic transfer, a nice little 17 minute documentary retrospective with interviews from the principal cast and director and a trailer. It's more than what you would expect but not as much as you would like. Having said that I'm still very happy with this release and can't recommend it enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment