Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tom (1973)

Although he remained mired in low-budget sleaze throughout the active years of his directorial career, give Greydon Clark some credit for trying to say something about important topics with his first picture, Tom, which was later reissued as The Bad Bunch. A clumsy attempt at dramatizing how racially charged violence spirals out of control after a chance encounter plants the seeds for conflict, Tom concerns earnest Vietnam veteran Jim (played by Clark himself), who innocently travels to Watts with the intention of delivering a letter on behalf of a fallen comrade. This journey brings Jim into the proximity of Tom (Tom Johnigarn), a radicalized dude who prefers the African name he gave himself, “Makimba.”  Hateful of all whites, Tom/Makimba tells Jim to get the hell out of Watts, and then he gathers his gang to pummel Jim for good measure. Only the intervention of racist cop Lt. Stans (Aldo Ray) saves Jim’s life. Thereafter, the movie runs along two parallel tracks. In one, Jim navigates his love life, trying to choose between easy lay Bobbi (Bambi Allen) and nice girl Nancy (Jacqueline Cole). This stuff is alternately sleazy and stultifying, with the Bobbi scenes featuring lots of gratuitous nudity and the Nancy scenes featuring lots of gratuitous montages. On the other track, Tom/Makimba gets into trouble with cops and criminals, improbably blaming Jim for all of his problems. All of this stuff eventually leads toward a histrionic climax, but not before Clark burns up screen time with nonsense including a topless pool party and a Greek Orthodox wedding. Even though Tom runs only 82 minutes, it somehow manages to seem directionless and overlong. 


1 comment:

DrCasbahJazz said...

"Nonsense including a topless pool party"?
I discovered your blog after Gilbert Gottfried plugged it, and I've been reading it daily ever since, and will likely continue to do so; that said, you and I clearly are not in the same place about what constitutes "nonsense".