Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974)

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974), directed by John Hough.

A drive-in car chase and crash film. After a bit of home invasion and supermarket robbery, outlaw gear-heads Peter Fonda and Adam Roarke race for freedom. Unwelcome passenger Susan George, last seen in Straw Dogs (1971), invites herself along.

Vic Morrow is the only sheriff who can catch them and is a rebel as well: no badge, gun, uniform or haircut. He was always my favorite troubled tough guy. His dangerous helicopter stunts suggest his death eight years later when he and two children died in a helicopter crash while filming the Twilight Zone movie.

It's raw mid-70s low-budget action material and the car and helicopter work are impressive, but we have problems. We were celebrating very cool outlaws at that time, but the home invasion where they threaten a woman and her daughter put them beyond the pale. I was rooting for the cops, silly and ineffective as they are.

Secondly: the tough-guy rebel banter is just awful. I kept wondering if dialogue from some other film could be looped in to improve it. Susan George's lines make her sound semi-retarded.

I think you could call the ending "abrupt".

The DVD commentary track with the director and an interviewer gives valuable background. Shooting was all on location. No process shots or under-cranking at all. Filming was done with the cars at full speed with Fonda doing his own driving. (Crashes and rolls were by stuntmen). No rehearsals and just one take for everything.

No score apart from the opening and closing credits. Music was written for the film but the director could not communicate what he wanted to the composer: something like lonely and sad country & western themes. So he did without and it works.

The director is another Brit who had a vision of rural America he wanted to express.

The DVD is part of an economical Shout Factory two disc set with Race with the Devil.