An African-American singer, Liz Wetherly (Leslie Uggams, Sugar Hill), decides to take a break from her hectic career. Her search for solitude lands her in the American Deep South. When Liz’s car breaks down, she walks to a near motel run by a faded beauty (Shelley Winters, A Place in the Sun) and her psychotic boy-toy (Michael Christian, Doomsday Machine). And this is, as they say, the beginning of the story.
Reaction & Thoughts:
Ahhh … the 1970s! This off-the-wall hixploitation thriller has become a revered cult classic, and for good reasons. Poor Pretty Eddie, directed by David Worth and Richard Robinson, has lots of jaw-dropping moments. It’s hard to pick a favorite one, but I’ll go with a trial conducted at a local diner. It gives new meaning to the phrase “kangaroo court” — you don’t know whether to laugh or scream.
I have no doubt that this film couldn’t be made today. It’s so shamelessly crude and offensive that I’m assuming the filmmakers were determined to shock the audience and they succeeded. Although I was repelled by the images of gratuitous cruelty and blatant racism I felt compelled to watch — it’s like watching a car crash. I do feel that there is a social message buried somewhere in the trash. Maybe it is wishful thinking on my part. It’s definitely not for the squeamish or thin-skinned.
The acting is appropriately over the top. Winters does a great Norma Desmond imitation. It’s hard to understand what a two-time Oscar-winner is doing in this cheapo, but I’m glad she’s here — you’ve got to admire her enthusiasm.
Uggams does the most sensible thing in the face of such formidable competition; she underplays her part quite well. Uggams is a drop of fresh water in a septic tank. Slim Pickens (Dr. Strangelove) and Dub Taylor (Gator) play crazy rednecks, and needless to say, they were perfectly casted. The cast also includes Lou Joffred (The Legend of Frank Woods), and Ted Cassidy (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Poor Pretty Eddie is not for the PC crowd. It’s the kind of movie that we won’t see ever again. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Color, 92 minutes, Rated R.