Joe (John G. Avildsen / U.S., 1970):

A pointedly grubby 1970 snapshot, the great divide and the curdled "or-gee." The faded red-white-and-blue of the opening credits gives way to the squalid young—wayward chiclet (Susan Sarandon) and pusher-artist (Patrick McDermott) in their pad with syringe and Raggedy Ann doll, just a whiff of debased Puccini to get things rolling. Generation clash has come to a bludgeon, the girl's adman father (Dennis Patrick) bashes the beau's skull in before stumbling into the proletarian pub where the silent-majority Mephisto (Peter Boyle) holds court. Hippie-killing turns out to be something for snobs and slobs to bond over: The respectable murderer frets in his Madison Ave. tower, meanwhile the steamed steelworker polishes a prized rifle in the basement, his forehead just about bulging with reactionary bile. "Hey Joe, don't it make you wanna go to war... once more?" The withering comedy of an Old Guard furious at and envious of "screwin' and groovin'" children, salted with Norman Wexler's dialogue and rubbed against John G. Avildsen's grimy lenses. (It begins rather like Preminger's Where the Sidewalk Ends and closes on the other side of Hopper's Easy Rider, such is the zeitgeist.) The Human Zoo on the hospital nightstand and Hopalong Cassidy in the East Village display window, wingnut truculence is the "refreshing change" that follows the bacchanalia with a massacre. "You ever get the feeling that everything you do, your whole life, is just one big crock of shit?" Lear aims to domesticate the beast in All in the Family, Noé in Seul Contre Tous takes a more philosophical stance. With Audrey Caire, K. Callan, and Reid Cruickshanks.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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