The Killer Inside Me (1976)


(director: Burt Kennedy; screenwriters: Edward Mann/Robert Chamblee/based on the novel by Jim Thompson; cinematographer: William A. Fraker; editors: Aaron Stell/Danford B. Greene; music: Tim McIntire/John Rubinstein ; cast: Stacy Keach (Lou Ford), Susan Tyrell (Joyce Lakeland), Tisha Sterling (Amy Stanton), Keenan Wynn (Chester Conway), Don Stroud (Elmer), Charles McGraw (Howard Hendricks), John Dehner (Bob Maples), John Carradine (Dr. Jason Smith), Royal Dano (Father), Pepe Serna (Johnny Lopez); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Michael W. Leighton; Warner Bros.; 1976)
“Never convincing.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The music score is provided by Tim McIntire and John Rubinstein. Both actors/musicians are the sons of actor John McIntire and pianist Artur Rubinstein.Noted Western director Burt Kennedy (“Big Bad John”/”The War Wagon”/”Hannie Caulder”) helms it as a rambling modern western crime drama, with a film noir look. The so-so screenplay by Edward Mann and Robert Chamblee misses the essence of what Jim Thompson’s 1952 smoldering pulp novel was striving for. The poor editing and poor production values over-ride Stacy Keach’s electric performance as a Jekyll and Hyde character.

Stacy Keach is Lou Ford, a psychotic deputy sheriff of a Montana mining town, called Central City. We learn the friendly deputy never carries a weapon but secretly has anger management problems stemming from a traumatic childhood incident. His dark side manifests itself when dealing with white trash hooker Joyce (Susan Tyrell ), whom he severely beats. The low-life hooker, yearning for a real man, tells Mayor Conway (Keenan Wynn) that his alcoholic son Elmer (Don Stroud) beat her and threatens to expose him unless given $50,000 in hush money. The mayor gives the deputy the money to give to the whore, but he instead kills her and Elmer. He then tries to pin the murder on another.

The implausible story is never convincing. Furthermore the clumsy direction keeps things awkward.