Friday, May 20, 2011

The Clown Murders

(Martyn Burke, 1976)
Not the movie you'd expect from the title - a fascinating hybrid that, ultimately, loses its grip. Produced toward the front end of the tax shelter boom - whence the CFDC adjusted their funding priorities to favor 'commercial' projects which might, har har, make back some of their investment - here you can still see some push-back from the frustrated artist types over the transition. Yes dear friends, this is a polo club "Goin' Down the Road", a buncha upper-class hosers doin' dumb shit, with a dumbfounding mutation around halfway into some kind of a psychodrama about machismo. Guns guns guns, gab gab gab, and some guy in a clown mask who avenges the class-conscious kidnapping which provides the film with its nominal plot. Just which guy is not ever spelled out, but he's gotta be one of the two farm hands, so the mystery angle is not that gripping. The rampage is clearly some kind of metaphor to literalize the anti-development message, loaded with highly portentous shots of condo towers adjoining the fallow fields. In fact, that's the only way you can (maybe) make the film work, as metaphor; each of three caperers are allotted exactly one character trait, which is better than they can do for the two perversely 'romantic leads,' who are utterly inexplicable: who decided that a kidnapping would be a jolly lark? Why does she pick such a weird moment to seduce John Candy? Candy symbolically rolls around and bawls for about ten minutes after that incident, so we're in the realm of CriTique here; it's not supposed to be thrilling, for that would be base. Instead it's a critique of thrills. Would YOU invite a critique of thrills over for dinner? With Al Waxman as the cop.

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