Thursday, 25 March 2010

A SMALL TOWN IN TEXAS (1976)

Directed by Jack Starrett, with Timothy Bottoms, Susan George, Bo Hopkins, and Art Hindle.


I love "trouble in small Southern town" movies... "Macon County Line", "Jackson County Jail", "The Great Texas Dynamite Chase", you name it. So it was with some eagerness that I tracked down the as-yet-unavailable-in-North-America-on-DVD "A Small Town in Texas". I mean, hell, its director helmed the fantastic "Race With the Devil", right? And this stars Timothy Bottoms whom I love in "The Last Picture Show", Susan George from "Straw Dogs", "Die Screaming Marianne", "Fright", and “Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry”, and Bo Hopkins who's the man!

Bottoms is Poke, just released from prison and hoping to take off to California with his wife (George) and their young son. Hopkins (imposing, unpredictable) is the sheriff who put Poke away for five years on trumped up charges of pot possession. When Hopkins kills a mayoral candidate for cash and is witnessed by Poke, the chase is one.

Not a bad Southern chase flick, “ASTiT” (sounds dirty) suffers from a somewhat unlikable main character in Bottoms’ arrogant Poke, and an underwritten role for George in which she’s also underused. She can be quite good as this type of character. See “Dirty Mary Crazy Larry” for proof. Audience sympathy for Poke may suffer even further when, as a result of a car chase, one of the cops is seen fleeing and screaming in flames and then later dies. Picture "Eat My Dust" with Ron Howard being responsible for the death of a deputy, and you'll see what I mean. It's just incongruous with this type of flick. The chase scenes in “ASTiT” are pretty decent, however, and there’s a good Southern small town atmosphere and an impending sense that something bad is going to happen at any moment. A bit of a disappointment, but I do love me that poster.


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