(director: Herbert B. Leonard; screenwriter: Lawrence Marcus; cinematographer: Fred Jackman; editor: Stanley Neufeld; music: Bill Walker; cast: Robert Mitchum (Harry K. Graham), Brenda Vaccaro (Jenny Benson), Jan-Michael Vincent (Jimmy Graham), Jason Bernard (Jimmy, age 6), Sally Kirkland (Ann), Joseph Attles (Bible Man), Lou Gilbert (Mr. Katz), Josh Mostel (Mr. Bonelli); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Herbert B. Leonard; MGM; 1971)
“Aside from the winning brooding performance by Robert Mitchum, this somber melodrama, a tortured father and son relationship film, is a downer.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Aside from the winning brooding performance by Robert Mitchum, this somber melodrama, a tortured father and son relationship film, is a downer. Director Herbert B. Leonard (“The Perils of Pauline”), a noted TV producer, works from a script by Lawrence Marcus. The film was pulled from theaters after released for a week. One night the 6-year-old Jimmy (Jason Bernard) witnesses his drunken father Harry (Robert Mitchum) slit his mother’s (Sally Kirkland) throat with a broken beer bottle.
The court gets him to testify and his dad is sent to prison. Fifteen years later the confused and embittered Jimmy (Jan-Michael Vincent), surviving an orphanage and a foster home, searches for his paroled ex-con and Korean War hero father and finds him working as a mechanic in Wildwood, N.J. The loutish dad is living in a trailer park with penny arcade worker Jenny (Brenda Vaccaro), who tries to get the two together. While the kid awkwardly reunites with dad, who gets him a mechanic job in his place, Jimmy can’t make up his mind whether to kill him or forgive him. Instead he hurts his dad by raping Jenny, just before they marry.
The film comes up empty on the drama front, and is watchable only because Mitchum is always watchable.
REVIEWED ON 8/14/2017 GRADE: C+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/