Shelley Winters, Michael Christian, and Leslie Uggams in Poor Pretty Eddie (1975)


(director: Richard Robinson; screenwriter: B.W. Sandefur/from the play “The Balcony” by Jean Genet; cinematographer: David Worth; editor: Frank Mazzola; music: Grant Boatwright; cast: Leslie Uggams (Liz Wetherly), Shelley Winters (Bertha), Michael Christian (Eddie Collins), Ted Cassidy (Keno), Dub Taylor (Floyd), Lou Joffred (Odell), Slim Pickens (Orville), Red Lawson (The Salesman), Sherif Smith (The Deputy); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Michael Christian; ; 1975)

Sleaze, torture, humiliation and an obese Shelley Winters–what more can you want from a trashy exploitation flick with artistic pretensions?

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Sleaze, torture, humiliation and an obese Shelley Winters–what more can you want from a trashy exploitation flick with artistic pretensions? The executive producer is Michael Thevis, a mobster who was once on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List and is known as “The Scarface of Porn.” The trashy film is filled with the most vile stereotypes of the rural South. It becomes difficult to imagine how such recognizable Hollywood talent as Leslie Uggams, Shelley Winters, Slim Pickens and Dub Taylor got involved with such a questionable low-budget project. It was filmed outside Athens, Georgia at Charlie Williams’ Pinecrest Lodge, a home style Bar-b-que restaurant. Director Richard Robinson’s (“Is There Sex After Marriage?”/”Charcoal Black”/”Thunder County)main aim is to exploit the fear of a woman travelling alone and exploit racism down South. It was written byB.W. Sandefur with a flavor for sordid hillbilly humor, in a screenplay he says was inspired from the play “The Balcony” by Jean Genet.

It opens at the University of Georgia football stadium, where famous African-American singer Liz Wetherly (Leslie Uggams) sings the national anthem before the game and then gets into her fancy foreign car and in a voiceover says: “Look, I have two weeks before my next concert. Now I’m going to get in my car and drive until I find a nice, quiet hole to crawl into.” Who knew that was actually the plot?

The harried Liz finds her perfect hideaway spot when her car breaks down on some backwoods Southern country road. It’s a rundown hunting lodge with cabins for rent, where Liz rents a room while her car is being repaired by the inn’s sinister-looking handyman Keno (Ted Cassidy). What should have taken only a short time turns into days as Liz becomes a virtual prisoner in this bucolic shithole due to the manipulations of the psychotic innkeeper manager, Eddie (Michael Christian), an Elvis impersonator with showbiz aspirations. Eddie is the crazed younger lover of the motel’s whiny owner Bertha (Shelley Winters), who was an ex-stripper and is possessive of her Eddie.

Eddie is attracted to Liz and also wants her to further his showbiz aspirations. Which leads to him holding Liz as a virtual prisoner and raping and torturing her. Also included in the horror story, is forced oral sex with a traveling salesman (Red Lawson), a humiliating inquiry by the local sheriff Orville (Slim Pickens)–asking “Did he bite you on the titties?”, dining on Keno’s dog, a public trial in which Floyd (Dub Taylor), the self appointed judge, strips Liz in front of the locals, and the bloodbath finale that goes for black vengeance.

It should appeal to only those who like unflinching repulsive grindhouse flicks that don’t care about how socially unacceptable the film turns out. All other viewers are warned, this is a raunchy unappealing film with base dialogue, unlikable characters (including the vic) and shrill performances.