Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Devil and Leroy Bassett (1973)

Seeing as how a title at the beginning of the picture claims The Devil and Leroy Bassett was based upon real events, it’s not impossible to imagine how this story about criminals on a violent rampage could have become something interesting. Unfortunately, writer-director Robert E. Pearson can’t decide whether he’s making a comedy or a drama, can’t decide whether his characters are antiheroes or monsters, and, for that matter, can’t decide which character is the protagonist. The movie starts with three repugnant idiots, including Bible-thumping hothead Leroy Bassett (John F. Goff) and his slovenly brother, Wilbur (George “Buck” Flower). Perpetually inebriated, they commit crimes including the theft of a police car. Meanwhile, Native American psychopath Keema Greywolf (Cody Bearpaw) bristles under police custody until he violently escapes. Circumstances put these characters together for a getaway that becomes a crime spree and, for a period of time, a hostage situation involving a hijacked bus. Yet by the end of the movie, things have resolved into a mano-a-mano chase pitting Keema against the aggrieved policeman who wants him captured or dead, if not both. Played straight, this material could have been either frightening, a cautionary tale about predators lurking at the fringes of society, or provocative, the saga of marginalized people taking a misguided path toward empowerment. Instead, The Devil and Leroy Bassett is boring and unpleasant until the last half-hour or so, which has some action. Early scenes with the Bassett brothers are interminable, vignettes of morons barking at each other to the accompaniment of a stupid theme song about Wilbur’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for beer. Whenever Pearson cuts to Keena, it feels as if he’s cut to an entirely different movie. And once the pieces finally converge, it’s difficult to reconcile the redneck high jinks of the early scenes with the nihilistic carnage that follows.

The Devil and Leroy Bassett: LAME

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