October 21st, 2008

WEEKEND WITH THE BABYSITTER (1971) **

Jim (George E. Carey) is a movie director whose marriage to his junkie wife is crumbling.  To make matters worse, she’ll tell him she’s going to “her mother’s” and then sneak off to get high with her pusher.  One day his hot babysitter, Candy (Susan Romen) shows up unannounced and reads one of Jim’s screenplays.  She tells him it sucks because teens don’t say “groovy” any more, so she takes him out for a weekend on the town to show him how the youth of today (or 1971 at least) live, act, and talk.  They end up getting stoned together and wind up making love.  Meanwhile, the wife gets in deep with her pusher who coerces her into stealing her husband’s boat so he can run drugs from Mexico.  When Jim finds out about it, he calls up his newly found hippie friends for backup to kick the snot out of the drug dealers and rescue his wife. 

 

If you can’t already tell from that synopsis, there is a LOT of plot in this one.  Weekend with the Babysitter is a classic example of the bait and switch routine that Crown International Pictures would pull on the unsuspecting drive-in public.  They’d make some lurid artwork, put together a sexy and campaign and then… make an entirely different movie than they advertised. 

 

Just so the Better Business Bureau didn’t have to get involved, they WOULD show a small fraction of what they promised.  In Weekend with the Babysitter, you have to wait a whole 50 minutes for Jim to get down and dirty with Candy.  They only have two sex scenes and one shower scene together which takes up about ten whole minutes of screen time before the laborious plot kicks back into motion.  At least director Don Henderson is smart enough to throw in an awesome scene where Jim’s wife is forced into having a tryst with a lesbian to pay for her heroin tab. 

 

Henderson is actually none other than Billy Jack himself, Tom Laughlin!  He also directed the equally inept Touch of Satan the same year.

 

AKA:  Weekend Babysitter. 

TRUE GRIT (1969) ***

Kim (Teen Wolf Too) Darby’s father gets gunned down in cold blood and she turns to the incorrigible sheriff Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne) to find the man who murdered her daddy.  The Rhinestone Cowboy himself, Glen Campbell also throws in with them and the trio heads west to catch the killer. 

 

John Wayne has never really been known as an “actor”.  Normally he’s just John Wayne and that’s usually enough.  In True Grit he branches out a bit and actually acts.  Of course his idea of acting is wearing an eye patch.  Admittedly, it’s not much of an attempt, but it’s enough for me.  To me, John Wayne is awesome, eye patch or not.  The eye patch thing was obviously enough for the Academy because they gave Wayne his only Oscar for his performance.  Wayne reprised the role six years later in the sequel, Rooster Cogburn.

 

The supporting cast is also pretty good.  Darby is quite winning as the spunky whippersnapper and I liked the way she conned a horse trader out of $300.  Campbell is just OK, but you’ll have more fun watching the soon-to-be-famous bit players like Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper (the year he made Easy Rider) earning paychecks. 

 

True Grit is not a great western although it does have moments of greatness.  The flick is relatively light on action but when it does cook, director Henry (The Sons of Katie Elder) Hathaway turns on the heat pretty good.  (I especially liked the scene where Dennis Hopper got his fingers chopped off.)  The flick does suffers from one climax too many and some uneven pacing.  That’s okay though because it’s the chemistry between Wayne, Darby and Campbell that makes the movie.  The scenes where the trio bicker and jaw at one another are fun to watch and helps the film along during its slower patches. 

 

Wayne does get some great dialogue in the film, my favorite being:  “If you’re looking for trouble… I’ll accommodate ya!”  It’s Darby though who gets the best line of the movie when she tells Campbell, “You cultivate your hair like lettuce!”