The great character actor Peter Boyle gives a powerful performance as Joe Curran, a racist factory worker who hates “hippies and niggers.”
The film, directed by Joe Avildsen before making the “Rocky” and the “Karate Kid” pictures, centers on New York City advertising executive Bill Compton (Dennis Patrick), who kills Frank (Patrick McDermott), the junkie lover of his daughter Melissa (Susan Sarandon), when she ends up in a mental hospital after suffering a drug overdose.
Joe, who holds Bill in great regard for killing the drug pusher, congratulates Bill, and a friendship begins. When Melissa escapes from the hospital, Bill and Joe go to Greenwich Village to find her. Invading a hippie pot party, the two reactionaries go on a killing spree.
At the time, the movie was a sleeper hit, due to its approach to the characters and to the material, which is both saircal and empathetic. Now it’s known as Avildsen’s first big piture and as the stunning debut of Susan Sarandon, who became a major star of the 1970s and 1980s.
Oscar Nominations: 1
Story and Screenplay (Original): Norman Wexler
Oscar Awards: None
The winners of the Original Screenplay Oscar were Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North for “Patton,” which also won Best Picture, Director and Actor.
Running time: 107 Minutes.
Directed by John G. Avildsen
Released July 15, 1970.
DVD on April 16, 2002
Dennis Patrick as Bill Compton
Peter Boyle as Joe Curran
Susan Sarandon as Melissa Compton
Patrick McDermott as Frank Russo
Audrey Caire as Joan Compton
K Callan as Mary Lou Curran
Marlene Warfield as Bellevue Nurse
Gloria Hoye as Janine
Patti Caton as Nancy
Gary Weber as George
Claude Robert Simon as Bob
Francine Middleton as Gail
Mary Case as Teeny Bopper