Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974)

"Every bone in her crotch. That's what I'm gonna break"

- Crazy Larry (Peter Fonda) on Dirty Mary (Susan George)

This is your typical 70s petrolhead Good Ole Boy car chase movie, enlivened by and made original only for the smart mouth sassiness of its characters. I can imagine this holding a treasured place in the DVD collections of both Quentin Tarantino and Richard Hammond (now there's a thought!)

"You're the kind that's never satisfied. You'd eat the last cookie in the jar. And I'm telling you something, there's no more cookies in the jar, and there aren't. Even if there were , you'd eat it. And you'd go looking in my fridge for my pie stash"

- Crazy Larry on Dirty Mary, again.

Is Peter Fonda the most underrated figure of 70s cinema? Seriously people need to see that he was more than Easy Rider. He also has some real chemistry here with the sunkissed Susan George, endlessly chewing gum as they trade snappy dialogue.

Based on a 1963 Richard Unekis novel entitled The Chase, which tapped into the dawning muscle car era and V8 engines being used to criminal effect, outrunning the police force across statelines, its adaptation had a long and chequered history having first attracted the attention of Steve McQueen, naturally. The original genesis of this film was 'Dirty Deke and Fast Floyd' focusing on the two stick up men, a budding NASCAR driver and his mechanic. However, it was felt the film needed a female character and Mary was created; a one night stand of the Floyd character, now renamed Larry, along for the ride. Deke's character is noticeably sidelined in both the film and the title, and the 'dirty' moniker which suggested grease and oil for his character was now appropriated to Mary, clearly to suggest her wanton sexuality. And if anyone can do wanton sexuality, its British star Susan George, adopting an American accent here. She's the stuff of teenage wet dreams.

The film is essentially one long car chase with the modern day Bonnie and Clyde on the run in both a souped up '66 Chevrolet Impala before ditching that for the beautiful '69 Dodge Charger R/T 440.

Both the tyre squeeling action and the crackling script is handled well by British director John Hough, and the film has an uncredited cameo from Roddy McDowell. The characters may not seem instantly likeable, but that's in keeping with the then current trend of 70s American cinema. 

The final impressive and explosive stunt scene was later used in the opening of TV's The Fall Guy.

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