|Title:||Poor Pretty Eddie|
Other Movies Seen By This Director (0)
|04.08.07||Alamo Downtown||This Screening is part of event: Grindhouse All Nighter|
AKA Black Vengeance AKA Heartbreak Motel AKA Redneck County, Poor Pretty Eddie is much more than your standard hicksploitation fare. On the surface, it's about an uppity African American singer whose car breaks down in a most decidedly backwoods redneck town, falling into the insane fancy of a bartender/motel manager named Eddie and the Lyme diseased attention of the townsfolk. Shelley WInters, in an incredibly brave performance (she seemed to revel in these parts around this time though, appearing in the lowest budget fare alongside with higher-profile gigs like The Poseidon Adventure, often going out of her way to deprecate herself with comments about her increasing weight, fading beauty, and reembered youth), plays Bertha, Eddie's sugar mama. Dub Taylor and Slim Pickens also give really great performances as well, padding out this town as the ultimate in down south slimy smiley good ol' boys. Plus they have some amazingly coloquial dialogue. Really great characteristic stuff.
What really sets this film apart however is the editing. Lars mentioned it in his intro, and another fan of the film also brought it up as a huge determining factor in its greatness. Frank Mazzola, fresh off editing Don Cammell and Nic Roeg's Performance, infused this film with a high-brown artsy tone that completely transforms the subject matter and performances. There's something so unsettling about having this gritty messy story presented on such an arthouse level. All these slow fades and obtuse angles of scenery and intricate matting and beat-by-beat construction using different speeds and takes... it's really not what you'd expect with a redneck rape movie. As the film progresses and everybody escalates into frenzy, the film keeps a constant state of heaviness reminiscent of a more energetic ANtonioni or a less morose Bergman; this unconsciouss feeling that what you're watching is "important." Yet it's a slow-motion shot of a retard shooting his sling shot and yelling NOOOOOOOOOOOO! I can't even imagine seeing this in some random drive-in on a date some Saturday night. Talk about subverting expectations.
So maybe it was a happy accident or a devious plot or a misunderstood vision or an unheralded masterpiece. As it stands today, it's a perfect example of the fruit that exploring exploitation cinema bears. Still remaining remarkably unique after several decades of Hollywood catchup, I still can't imagine a movie like this getting made today. Great film.