Friday, January 24, 2014

Deadhead Miles (1973)

Director: Vernon Zimmerman

Writers: Terrence Malick, Vernon Zimmerman

Composer: Tom T. Hall

Starring: Alan Arkin, Paul Benedict, Bruce Bennett, Charles Durning, Hector Elizondo, Richard Kiel, John MIlius, Avery Schreiber, Loretta Swit, George Raft, Ida Lupino

More info: IMDb

Plot: The story involves Cooper (Arkin), a hijacked and beautifully spray-painted Peterbuilt, a woman chained to an iron wood heater, another woman with one eye and  a hitchhiker (Paul Benedict).  Yeah, it doesn't make sense to me, either.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah, I think I would.

What a strange little film.  I didn't even realize it was written by Terrence Malick until it was over.  That explains a lot.  I must have blinked during the credits.  The picture is nothing more than a series of little adventures Cooper (Arkin) gets into.  He's not a good person.  He cheats everyone and steals everywhere he can.  He's also oddly played by Arkin.  His accents is very strange and ill fitting for his look.

So, if you just take it at face value, it's just about this dude who drives a semi across country.  That's the plot.  There is no character development.  None.  But that's OK because it's really fun.  There are TONS of cameos by known actors both established like Ida Lupino and George Raft...

and Loretta Swit, in her first motion picture role.

Look at the cast and you'll see a lot of now familiar names that were just starting out 40 years ago.  Known for bringing lots of funny, Paul Benedict plays the hitchhiker Cooper picks up near the beginning of the movie and takes him to the end only here he's not playing for laughs.  He has an interesting twist which I really dug.  And Bruce Bennett shows up to help them when their rig breaks down.  His is an interesting and unusual character.  There's lots of really neat and strange things going on here and it's surprising that this hasn't made its way to DVD considering Malick's involvement. 

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