Today I watched John Hough’s Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974)
This film begins with two gear heads; a driver named Larry played by Peter Fonda, and his mechanic Deke played by Adam Roarke. For various reasons neither of them managed to make it in the racing scene but they plan to try again, bankrolled by a quick supermarket robbery. The job immediately starts going wrong when Larry’s one night stand Mary manages to coerce herself into the situation. Then the tricks they put in place to buy them time don’t and the Police captain who comes after them is the furious Everett Franklin, played by Vic Morrow.
What follows could almost be said to be the opposite of Two-Lane Blacktop, despite some similarities. This movie is characterful, humerous, and full of action, sometimes at the expense of it’s characters. The thing here is that Larry, Mary, and Deke are not the most likable people and the film takes, perhaps too long, to establish their redeeming features. For me Mary comes off the worst and is quite a missed opportunity, as female characters often are. She just never really does much, despite displaying some cleverness and oddity of character. Her moments come when she tricks the other two protagonists to keep her with them, but the rest of her screen time seems to be mostly whining or being concerned.
Actually, on that note, I just felt the film in it’s entirety never really went anywhere particularly interesting either. It just didn’t seem to build to anything as truly climactic as any of the other films I have watched this week. The saving grace is Vic Morrow’s Captain Franklin who is just full of piss and vinegar, its wonderful. His performance brings a lot of real passion to the film and is both totally hilarious and immensely bad-ass at the same time. Aside from that I felt the film was only alright, too full of quips instead of character development and undeserving of the gravitas it’s ending tries to pull out of nowhere. 3/5