Starring the inimitable John Saxon, who offers one of his most appealing performances, The Glove is a tonic for schlock-cinema addicts who are tired of mean-spirited exploitation flicks. The Glove is not gentle, per se, but it avoids the familiar traps of objectifying women and sanctifying pointless violence. Additionally, the picture overflows with lively character development and whimsical dialogue, sometimes to the detriment of the storyline, and the use of hard-boiled voiceover gives the piece a pleasing flow. So while The Glove is mostly a dud as an action picture, it’s pleasant to watch as a character piece involving an amiable bounty hunter and an even more amiable escaped convict. You may find yourself perplexed as to whom this picture was meant to satisfy, since the poster suggests a brutal urban thriller, but if you’ve spent too much time aiming your retinas at ugly stories about ugly people doing ugly things, the goofy humanism of The Glove offers a refreshing alternative.
Saxon stars as Sam Kellogg, a Los Angeles-based bounty hunter with money problems. His ex-wife is after him for overdue alimony payments, so his treasured visitations with his young daughter are in danger of being revoked. The filmmakers present layer after layer of detail about Sam, so we learn that he gambles recklessly, gives bribes to former police-force colleagues for help tracking down hoodlums, and sometimes cuts breaks for hard-luck cases. Motivated by the promise of a $20,000 bounty, Sam spends most of the movie chasing Victor Hale (Rosey Grier), who seems terrifying the first time we encounter him. Having acquired a full suit of police riot gear, including a five-pound, lead-lined monstrosity known as a riot glove, Victor demolishes a car before pummeling one of the vehicle’s occupants nearly to death. However, subsequent scenes portray Victor as a gentle giant, entertaining local children by playing blues songs on guitar while hanging out in a tenement apartment. When Victor learns that Sam is after him, he calls the bounty hunter and says to back off, instead of, say, ambushing Sam with the glove.
Although the filmmakers never reconcile the dark and light aspects of Victor’s portrayal, it’s enjoyable to watch a picture of this type that strives to make characters dimensional. The Glove also benefits from a cast stocked with familiar professionals: Joanna Cassidy, Joan Blondell, Michael Pataki, Aldo Ray, Keenan Wynn. In the end, is The Glove a jumble of contradictory intentions? Sure. But it’s hard not to appreciate elements including the pithy voiceover (“I felt like somebody had kicked me in the stomach and left their shoe there”) and the stunningly overwrought theme song, which must be heard to be believed.
The Glove: FUNKY