Mary and Larry are two lovers who, with Larry's ace mechanic, rob a grocery store and flee the police with hopes of making the professional racing circuit. They are chased over hill, over vale by the cops, who deploy everything from a 426 Hemi to a helicopter to stop Larry's Dodge Charger culminating in a memorable ending.
Peter Fonda ... Larry
Susan George ... Mary Coombs
Adam Roarke ... Deke Sommers
Kenneth Tobey ... Carl Donahue
Eugene Daniels ... Hanks
Lynn Borden ... Evelyn Stanton
Janear Hines ... Millie
Elizabeth James ... Dispatcher
Adrianne Herman ... Cindy Stanton
T.J. Castronovo ... Steve (as Tom Castranova)
James W. Gavin ... Helicopter Pilot (as James Gavin)
Al Rossi ... Surl
Ben Niems ... Police Chief Markey
George Westcott ... Bridge Operator
Tom O'Neill ... Farmer
I too watched DMCL again last month after a period of many years, and I have to say that I love it, even though it's truly crap. The dialogue's hackneyed, the plot's over-simplistic and filled with randomly-inserted chunks of juvenile self-indulgence and Susan George's performance tends to make me claw at my ears like a mangy dog but if, like me, you hate what the computer age has done to the car chase, you can't help but enjoy it.
The fact is, you've got a bright yellow '69 Charger at full pelt, outrunning a bunch of genuine Mopar pursuit cars and being rammed by a helicopter - filmed on a road, with a camera. What more do you want? In terms of real action, with no digital effects, speeded-up film or dodgy miniatures, it's up there with The Gumball Rally. And yes, the scene with Vic Morrow standing at that crossroads as the helicopter swoops down to meet him does have a certain resonance.
This film is pretty poor, make no mistake, but as an example of how cars were crashed in the good old days I reckon it should be in a museum...
Yes, DMCL is shot well. Yes, the car chases are great. And yes, if '70's kitch is what you seek, you'll find plenty of it here. But that's not why I love the movie.
The reason I love the movie is this : the characters. I've read other users comments regarding the lack of writing or character motivation, and there is validity to that. But hey, the selling point of the film wasn't an in-depth look at people, the selling point was watching Peter Fonda and Susan George ram their car into several other cars.
But I digress, what I love about the characters (and what I hate about the characters in most action movies today) is that they are totally unlikeable. They even hate each other. Fonda is a complete jerk to everyone. Susan George rhymes with rich and Rorke is weak and ineffectual. Hey, most the time the characters don't like each other. And it's my opinion that these characters are unlikeable by design. Think about it: when was the last time you went to the movies and the main characters were people you were suppose to dislike? Rare is it that modern filmmakers will take that chance, Even more impressive, somehow you end up routing for these people.
Bottom line, it's a good chase movie, with solid performances by two 70's icons in thier prime. If you manage to catch it, you'll probably have a good time.
- The Stunts. Dirty Mary Crazy Larry is such a simple movie. It's the kind of movie that's best enjoyed with your bran turned off. This isn't rocket science, it's a car chase movie. The chase scenes are expertly filmed with a minimum of cuts. We see everything exactly the way it happened. And, as the film was made in 1974, we're seeing real people perform the dangerous action and not some computer generated idea of what the stunts should look like.
- The Acting. Everyone in the movie is great. Fonda and George may get top billing, but Roarke really shines. Roarke's Deke is flawed character with a lot of heart. His scene with Mary toward the end of the movie is perfectly played and unexpectedly emotional. I'm amazed that Roarke didn't go on to bigger things.
- The Ending. That ending took some real guts. The movie sucks you in and makes you really care about whether or not these characters are going to make their escape. And out of nowhere comes that ending. Wow!
What Doesn't Work:
- The Dialogue. Some of the dialogue reminded me of a foreign movie that has been translated into English. Some of the lines just didn't seem natural. I don't remember grown adults actually talking like that in the 70s.
- Susan George's Accent. For the most part, George does a good job of covering her English accent. But there are times when it slips through and is a bit distracting.
I realize that Dirty Mary Crazy Larry isn't the type of movie to appeal to everyone, but I had a blast watching it. It's the kind of entertainment I enjoy. The Region 1 DVD is fantastic with a nice documentary featuring Fonda, George, and director John Hough. The fun they had making this movie really comes through. Fonda, in particular, acts like a schoolboy as he reminisces about the movie. They appeared to have as much fun making it as I did watching it.
* The famous getaway car featured in the film is a 1969 Dodge Charger R/T with a 440 cubic inch V-8 engine. For musclecar buffs, the color of the Charger is "Limelight" yellow (actually, a fluorescent yellow-green). The black stripe on the side of the car is NOT a "factory" racing stripe (rather one painted on by the crew), and the wheels are classic "American Racing" brand wheels.
* Three Chargers were used in the film; Two 1969 Dodge Chargers (one "R/T" and one coupe), and one 1968 Dodge Charger (coupe). Two of the Chargers were intentionally damaged in the front (after a scene where the Charger collided with the truck), and there is a notable difference in the damage from car to car
* Six Dodge Polara 440 V-8 police cars were purchased from the California Highway Patrol for use in the film. Two were 1973 models, the remaining 4 were 1972's. All were destroyed during various jumps, rollovers, and crashes.
* Selected by Quentin Tarantino for the First Quentin Tarantino Film Fest in Austin, Texas, 1996.
* The helicopter that Captain Franklin commandeers is a Bell 206B JetRanger, FAA Registration number N20DB. The aircraft was built in 1973 and owned by Rotorcraft Technologies. This particular helicopter was leased to film and television production companies, and was featured on-camera (with various paint schemes) in "The Rockford Files" (1974), and as the corporate helicopter in The Towering Inferno (1974). In addition, it was also used as a filming platform for aerial shots in several movies, including Midway (1976). It was involved in a fatal crash in 1984, but is currently registered to fly.
SPOILER: The collision with the train at the end of the film was accomplished by rigging an engineless Dodge Charger filled with explosives to a towing cable that was run underneath the train tracks (the cable and pulley are, in fact, visible in the film). The towing cable was hooked up to a pulley system, and then to the train, which pulled the Charger into it. The crash and explosion of the car were actually two separate shots: one was the actual collision with the train accompanied by a small explosion, and the second was a larger explosion of the wrecked Charger staged with the train passing in the background of the shot.