Saturday, July 8, 2017

Timber Tramps (1975)

          Old-fashioned, predictable, and shallow, Timber Tramps features a rare leading performance by burly character actor Claude Akins, who plays a tough logger heading a crew of roving laborers during a season of hard work in Alaska. While the film’s strongest element is extensive location photography—countless shots depict trees felled by axes, explosives, saws, and tractors—Timber Tramps also features a plot, or at least the slenderest approximation of one. The gist is that Matt (Akins) assembles a team of muscular dudes after learning of a lumber concern in Alaska that needs help. Soon Matt discovers that the proprietor of the company is his old flame, and that a young man in her employ is her son, the date of his birth roughly coincidental to the last time she and Matt were together. Yep, everything about Timber Tramps is painfully obvious, right down to cartoonish vignettes of baddies played by Joseph Cotten and Cesar Romero discussing plans to sabotage the lumber concern.
          At the beginning of the story, Matt bums around with an older friend, Deacon (Leon Ames), who lives up to his name by periodically looking skyward and asking God for strength. One evening, while getting drunk in a bar, Matt picks a fight with the biggest guy in the room, massive African-American Redwood Rosenbloom (Rosey Grier). As often happens in manly-man movies, the pointless fight leads to instant friendship. These three form the core of the group that heads to Alaska, where Matt reunites with Corey Sykes (Eve Brent). While working for Corey, Matt clashes with his second-in-command, Big Swede (Tab Hunter), leading to another epic fistfight between friendly combatants—for some reason, this picture’s hero spends more time battling buddies than slugging villains. Matt also discovers, about an hour after the audience makes the connection, that he’s the father of Corey’s son.
          As dumb as Timber Tramps is, the movie is basically harmless, the low-rent equivalent of a routine John Wayne flick. One could quibble about Ames’ awkward voiceover or the goofy moment when Deacon has a vision of the angel Gabriel, but there’s not much to be gained by dissecting something this feeble. Better to simply enjoy the dopiest moments, as when Matt challenges Big Swede with this bizarre remark: “You just let your mouth overload your ass!”

Timber Tramps: FUNKY


Allen Rubinstein said...

Hilarious. I saw the title and assumed it must be another sexploitation flick. Claude Akins in a thong.

By Peter Hanson said...

To the accompaniment of Bad Company's "Feel Like Akins Love."

Cindylover1969 said...

I saw the poster and wondered if it from 1957 rather than 1975.

Mike Doran said...

I recall reading about this picture long before it was made.

In his late-in-life autobiography Light Your Torches And Pull Up Your Tights, veteran director Tay Garnett writes of his association with Chuck Keen on a movie that was then called The Mad Trapper; you've got it written up here as Challenge To Be Free.

Per Garnett, this last was in post-production when the book was written.
Garnett then writes about how he and Chuck Keen have another picture in the works, to be called Timber Tramp (sic), mentioning most of the cast of this one.

Most references list Challenge To Be Free as Tay Garnett's final film.
My educated guess would be that Garnett started Timber Tramp, but fell ill at some point and had to step down; Keen then completed the picture under his own name.

Just curious - does Timber Tramps carry a dedication to Tay Garnett, as films in this situation often do?