(director/writer: Phil Karlson; screenwriter: Mort Bricken; cinematographer: Jack Marta ; editor: Harry Gerstad; music: Patrick Williams; cast: Joe Don Baker (Ron Lewis), Conny Van Dyke (Susan Barrett), Gabriel Dell (Vince), John Marley (Sal Viccarrone), Brock Peters (Sergeant Sam Perry), Joshua Bryant (DA Ney), John Larch (Sheriff Bundy), Walter Brooke (Senator Tatum), Warren Kemmerling (Mayor Morello), Roy Jenson (Deputy Sheriff Haskins), H. B. Haggerty (Haskins’ Cousin Bickford), Brenton Banks (Jeremiah, Pianist), Al Hager (Emmett, Bartender); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Mort & Joel Bricken; Paramount; 1975)

“A revolting action melodrama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Veteran B film director Phil Karlson’s (“Hell’s Island”/”Walking Tall”/”The Phenix City Story”)last film is a revolting action melodrama about police and political corruption causing an innocent gambler to be framed and sentenced to four years in jail and upon his release seeks revenge on those who did him wrong. It tells its tedious story with a series of violent acts that smother any attempts at drama.The ugly story is written byco-producer Mort Bricken. All the characters are one-dimensional, and the ugly pic manages to not even come up with one sympathetic character. Even the film’s one honest cop, played by Brock Peters, leaves much to be desired.The absurd story seems to be put in play just to get to all the violence. Besides all the brutality, the pic also has lots of risible third-rate dialogue such as a mafia chief named Sal Viccarrone (John Marley) telling the film’s gambler hero, played listlessly by Joe Don Baker, “Don’t be a schmuck, play the odds.” Later the gambler’s confused whiny girlfriend country singer Susan Barrett (Conny Van Dyke) tells her action-packed dreamboat “You can’t think dead.”

Husky club ownerRon Lewis (Joe Don Baker) wins a bundle at a high-stakes poker game and has plans to move with singer girlfriend Susan Barrett to Las Vegas and help run the gambling operation of a new hotel he has a small share in. But in a small town in Tennessee a deputy sheriff (Roy Jenson) ambushes Ron in his car and attacks him for no apparent reason and while defending himself Ron inadvertently kills the lawman. The crooked sheriff (Warren Kemmerling) and his double-crossing lawyer (Joshua Bryant) frame him for killing the deputy and steal his gambling money in his confiscated car.

In jail the volatile Ron is befriended by prisoner mob boss Sal, who runs things in prison, and helps him get an early parole (Don’t ask how!). When Ron is released, he snarls and goes after those who framed him in the small town and learns that the corruption reaches from the local police to a state senator. Helped by contract killer Vince (Gabriel Dell), an ex-con jail-mate and pal of Sal’s, they dispatch all the thugs hired to kill the gambler. Ron is also helped by the ambitious black Sgt. Perry (Brock Peters), a cautious lawman who wants to get the white racist lawmen who unfairly sent so many of his kind to prison and uses Ron as a source to gather evidence.

Too bad the pic makes little sense, and is such an unpleasant trashy pic any way you look at it.