Thursday, December 1, 2016

Redneck (1973)

          Some Eurotrash thrillers of a certain vintage have power almost despite themselves, simply because the connotations of the stories are so disturbing. Such is the case with Redneck, a coproduction of British and Italian companies starring an American, a Brit, and an Italian. On the surface, Redneck is a straightforward crime picture about a child becoming a captive when crooks steal his mother’s car during a getaway. Yet the story eventually grows to include creepy implications about the boy modeling after his captors. Director Silvio Narizzano and his collaborators deserve some kind of credit—or blame—for heading down such a dark path. However, because Redneck is all over the place tonally, and because top-billed star Telly Savalas gives a ridiculous performance, it’s hard to describe Narizzzano’s storytelling as disciplined. More like exactly the opposite. Nonetheless, there’s some interestingly weird stuff in here, alongside stuff that’s weird for no real purpose. As such, it’s likely the only folks who will consider Redneck essential viewing are those who relish off-the-rails filmmaking and unhinged acting.
          The picture opens with a fairly exciting scene during which Memphis (Savalas) and Mosquito (Franco Nero) rob a store. Memphis kills a man during the crime, which shocks Mosquito, who didn’t sign up for homicide. A wild getaway ensues, with the crooks stealing various cars and causing wrecks throughout narrow European streets. Eventually, the crooks realize they have a stowaway, 13-year-old Lennox (Mark Lester). Thereafter, the plot makes very little sense, because it’s not clear whether the crooks want to hold the kid for ransom or simply fear what incriminating information he might provide if released. It’s not as if Memphis has any compunctions against killing innocent bystanders, since he offs another kid (and a dog) over the course of his journey. Mosquito tries to keep Lennox safe even as Memphis becomes more and more deranged, and Lennox vacillates between idolizing the humane Mosquito and worshiping the maniacal Memphis.
          Like so many hopelessly contrived genre pictures, Rednecks throws characters together believably, then loses credibility by failing to explain why they stay together; clearly, the filmmakers reached for some sort of male-bonding intensity that remained forever beyond their grasp. In one sequence, for instance, Mosquito stands naked next to Lennox while shaving, prompting Lennox, a few moments later, to examine his genitals in comparison to his grown-up buddy’s. Anyway, Savalas’ performance is quite a spectacle, and not in a good way. He cries, giggles, rhymes, screams, and sings, sometimes decorating his lines with an annoying approximation of African-American street jive. The operative word is “self-indulgent.” Adventurous viewers may find Redneck’s extremes amusing. Others will find them tiresome and unpleasant, though Redneck is rarely boring.

Redneck: FUNKY


Booksteve said...

Lester was in the news not long ago claiming to be the actual biological father of Michael jackson's children!

Why is this film called "Redneck?"

By Peter Hanson said...

Best guess for the title is that Savalas' character is called "Memphis" and makes some remarks to the effect of being from the American south. Because, of course, when you think about southern types, Telly Savalas (a Greek-American from Long Island) is the first person who comes to mind...