Friday, November 3, 2017

Maxie (1973)

Whatever happened behind the scenes of this oddity must be more interesting than what happens onscreen. Writer-director Paulmichel Mielche, who never made another fiction film, attracted some of the folks from Francis Ford Coppola’s filmmaking collective to work on his crew, and three respectable actors—Talia Shire, Vic Tayback, and Robert Walden—appear in the picture. Perhaps Mielche talked a good game about the picture he intended to make. Or perhaps some in the American Zoetrope crowd dug the idea of playing with exploitation-film elements. Whatever the case, Maxie—later sensationally but not inaccurately renamed The Butchers—is interminable. The story revolves around Maxie (K.T. Baumann), a young girl who cannot speak but helps make money for her small family by delivering newspapers. One day, she spots neighborhood butcher Smedke (Tayback) and his simple assistant, Finn (Walden), taking delivery of human corpses. Finn and Smedke spend the rest of the movie debating whether they should be worried about what Maxie saw. In a subplot, Shire plays a social worker eager to get Maxie into a speech-therapy program. Riddled with confusing transitions and pointless scenes, Maxie trudges along so slowly that it’s incorrect to describe the film as badly paced—it has no pace whatsoever. Shire and Walden play a few moments sincerely, and Tayback incarnates a stereotype loudly. But by the zillionth time Mielche cuts to weird shots of chickens and meat grinders, you’ll be more than ready for Maxie to end—that is, if you haven’t taken the wiser course of avoiding the movie entirely.



Guy Callaway said...

Vic Tayback!
Most recall him from the sitcom 'Alice', but I prefer his turn in the outrageous 'Blood and Lace'(1971).

Cindylover1969 said...

Pity about the retitling - there's black comedy potential in the thoought of unwary video store customers renting this during the late '80s instead of the Glenn Close comedy at the same name.