(director/writer: Bill D’Elia; screenwriters: Robert Uricola/novel by Thomas Berger; cinematographer: John Beymer; editor: Bill Johnson; music: Brian Eddols; cast: Rene Auberjonois (Reverton), Joe Grifasi (Bud Bullard), Lynne Killmeyer (Eva Bullard), Ron Mclarty (Dolf Beeler), David Strathairn (The Stranger), Gale Mayron (Bernice Beeler), Scott Allegrucc(Tony Beeler), Stanley Tucci (Harvey Yelton), Don Hartman (Ernie), Mert Hatfield (Clive Shell), Rob Vanderberry (Junior), Libby George (Bobby Beeler), Kathleen Doyle (Freida Bullard), Michael Stanton Kennedy (Curly), Rick warner (Ray Dooley); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Carole Kivett/Bill D’Elia; Castle Hill; 1989)

“Minor lampoon comedy of small town America during the 1950s.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Bill D’Elia (noted for making commercials and the “Chicago Hope” TV series) adequately helms this minor lampoon comedy of small town America during the 1950s. It’s based on the novel by Thomas Berger (“Little Big Man”), with the novel set in the 1930s and the film in the 1950s. It’s co-written by D’Elia and Robert Uricola, who keep it sitcom friendly and lite. Though limited by no attempt made to flesh-out its characters, it’s nevertheless a somewhat pleasing black comedy about locals from adjoining small towns having a petty feud that gets ridiculously out of hand. It’s played as broad slapstick comedy.

Factory worker Dolf Beeler (Ron Mclarty) is a customer who refuses to take his unlit cigar out of his mouth while in the ‘No Smoking’ Hornbeck hardware store of Bud Bullard (Joe Grifasi). Thereby Reverton (Rene Auberjonois), a stern railroad dick, clad in black like an extremist preacher, and a cousin of the store owner, pulls a gun on the now frightened Millville resident. That petty dispute triggers a feud between the Beelers of Hornbeck and the Bullards of Millville, which equates to the Hatfields and McCoys. When the hardware store accidentally burns down, the innocent Dolf is blamed. The gun-toting Reverton and Bud’s sullen son Junior (Rob Vanderberry), seeking retribution, prowl around Millville looking for Dolf, and that leads to all-out warfare, a heart attack, an attempted suicide, a bar and bank stickup, and a tussle between a bully Millville chief cop (Mert Hatfield) and the gutsy Hornbeck teen Tony Beeler (Scott Allegrucc) who is defending his mom’s (Libby George) honor from the cop’s abusive talk during a traffic violation stop.

Meanwhile Dolf’s 18-year-old football player son Tony, a high-school senior with a crush on the 13-year-old high-school freshman Eva Bullard (Lynne Killmeyer), the hardware store owner’s daughter, are in a Romeo and Juliet romance after they meet at a high school dance. The other major subplot has Tony’s dimwitted slutty sister Bernice (Gale Mayron), out of desperation for sex, elopes with the socially awkward auto mechanic Ernie (Don Hartman).

Another characters of interest is Stanley Tucci as the smirking and smarmy chief of police in Hornbeck, who is the one-man police force with romantic secrets about his relationship with the Beeler ladies.

REVIEWED ON 5/21/2014 GRADE: B-    https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/