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A Film Diary

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Watched: 12 November

It’s a shame that car chase movie Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry isn’t better than the sum of its parts. After all, you have Peter Fonda and Adam Roarke – two actors who made their names with various biker movies during the 1960s – behind the wheels of a couple of very cool cars, and there’s a hell of a lot of open road on show for them to drive along, as well as a seemingly unlimited number of police vehicles in pursuit. The characters they play – a pair of NASCAR hopefuls – are on the run after scoring $150,000 through kidnapping and extortion, but together they’re a rather flat double act, so much of the film’s spark ends up coming from Susan George’s Mary, who joins the pair after a one night stand with Fonda’s Larry; the two potential lovebirds flirt, argue and kiss… but mostly argue.

The same streak of fuck-everything nihilism found within other countercultural road movies like Easy Rider or Vanishing Point eludes director John Hough until the very final scene, and sadly the screenplay gradually gives up on everything bar insults that are repeatedly directed towards Mary, who must endure the two men’s overuse of the name ‘dingleberry’ despite proving herself smarter than them on various occasions. Roarke’s character Deke seems utterly superfluous, and despite the fact that the film is an adaptation of a pulp novel I wonder whether they’d have been better off ditching him early on in favour of a Bonnie and Clyde-style escapade. But there are lots of cool car chase bits. (***)

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