Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ride in a Pink Car (1974)

          Standard stuff about a tough guy who returns to his Southern hometown only to get into hassles with hotheaded provincial types, Ride in a Pink Car offers little of interest except for those determined to witness the whole spectrum of violent-redneck cinema. From the far-fetched shootouts to the lengthy car chases, Ride in a Pink Car contains nothing but adequately staged versions of things we’ve all seen before in slicker and more imaginative movies. This is passable escapism, but just barely. Square-jawed Glenn Corbett stars as Gid Barker, who has been absent without explanation for two years from the Florida town where he was raised. A man of few words, Gid vaguely attributes his absence to military service. Anyway, Gid tries to pick up where he left off with his ex, who married someone else while Gid was gone, and then he tracks down another former girlfriend for some heavy petting and reminiscing. Annoyed that he turned her on with no intention of consummating their flirtation, the former girlfriend tells her simple-minded husband, Buck (Minor Mustain), that Gid made a pass at her. Buck responds by picking a fight with Gid. After Buck pulls a gun, Gid nabs the pistol and stupidly tries to teach Buck a lesson by pulling the trigger, believing the gun to be empty. Surprise! Gid kills Buck, thereby making a mortal enemy of Buck’s macho father, Jeff Richman (Morgan Woodward).  Stealing a pink car from a traveling eccentric, Gid makes a run for it, eventually collecting his ex and a Native American buddy, Rain Eagle (Erni Benet), to join him on the road. Jeff and his cronies make chase, leading to car crashes and, eventually, a bloody showdown.
          All of this is just as insipid as it sounds. If cowriter/director Robert J. Emery meant to position Gid as some sort of wronged everyman fighting against a cruel system, he missed the mark completely—Gid comes across as an impulsive asshole unwilling to face the consequences of his reckless actions. That said, Emery portrays Jeff as something even worse, a bloodthirsty vigilante eager to murder Gid in the name of Jeff’s martyred idiot of a son. Whatever. Violent-redneck movies are generally fueled by pulpy sensationalism instead of genuine narrative logic, so thoughtful storytelling is a rarity in the genre. Even by those dubious standards, however, Ride in a Pink Car is shoddy. The characters are unlikable, the situations are unbelievable, and the thrills are meager. At least Woodward gives a zesty performance as the main villain, his icy eyes exploding from a pockmarked and tanned face surrounded by a cloud of white hair. Whenever he’s on screen, especially during the overheated finale, Ride in a Pink Car feels like a proper deep-fried exploitation flick.

Ride in a Pink Car: FUNKY

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