Thursday, April 20, 2017

Five Days from Home (1978)



          Among the least suspenseful chase films ever made, Five Days from Home stars George Peppard (who also directed) as a congenial convict who breaks out of jail so he can visit his hospitalized son. How congenial? The convict apologizes to people he abducts, keeps a running tab for debts he incurs, and leaves notes at stores he robs promising to reimburse the owners for damages and stolen items. Once the story adds in the notion that the protagonist was once a cop, it’s hard to accept that he was ever convicted for a crime, and the way he constantly evades capture makes the lawmen who are chasing him seem incompetent. Among the filmmakers’ strange storytelling choices is the decision to limit the protagonist’s shared screen time with his son to only one very brief scene. Since viewers are clearly expected to root for the antihero’s compassionate mission, wouldn’t it have made sense to present, say, flashbacks deepening and enriching the father-son relationship? Oh, well. Five Days from Home is pleasant enough to watch thanks to the inherent momentum of the storyline and the presence of a few mildly credible supporting characters. There’s even a cute dog in a few scenes, though the film’s odd poster greatly overstates the pup’s primacy within the narrative.
          The startling opening images promise a very different movie than Five Days Home actually delivers, because during the credits, T.M. Pryor (Peppard) is shown running naked except for boots through rugged bayou country in Louisiana. After clothing himself, Pryor sneaks a ride on a passing cargo truck, escaping the vicinity of his former prison and making his way toward the nearest city. He acquires guns and kidnaps a dumpy young woman named Wanda (Sherry Boucher), who drives him across several state lines. They bond somewhat, though T.M. remains focused on reaching his boy, who was hurt in a car accident. Way too much screen time elapses before the story introduces T.M.’s main pursuer, Inspector Markley (Neville Brand), and his presence never generates much tension. The film’s most colorful passage begins with T.M. and Wanda commandeering a car driven by a sleazy businessman, who is on his way to a tryst with his secretary/mistress. Appalled by the businessman’s immorality, T.M. contrives to humiliate the man without inflicting bodily harm. The ending of the picture is never in doubt, and the portrayal of the antihero as a tight-lipped man of principle rings false. Nonetheless, Five Days from Home moves along at a fair clip, and the friction between the nastiness of Peppard’s screen persona and the wholesomeness of his character creates an interestingly weird vibe.

Five Days from Home: FUNKY

2 comments:

Frank said...

This site has some strange 70s films: https://www.dailymotion.com/filmgorillas

Cindylover1969 said...

This does have one little legacy - George Peppard suggested the makers of Dynasty hire Bill Conti (who did Five Days From Home) to score the pilot; this was when Peppard had been cast to play Blake Carrington, they replaced him but not Conti, which worked well for all concerned).