This movie was based on the eponymous novel by Jim Thompson, directed by Sam Peckinpah, and co-stars Steve McQueen. I guess it’s fair to say it’s a crime action movie with neo-noir tendencies, not to mention a healthy amount of misogyny.
McQueen plays “Doc” McCoy, a prisoner who’s been denied parole. He tells his wife, Carol (played by the hapless Ali MacGraw), to do whatever it takes to make a deal for his release with corrupt bigwig Jack Benyon.
In what must be the crappiest deal ever brokered, Doc is paroled on condition that he commit a bank robbery with two of Benyon ‘s henchmen—Frank and Rudy. So when Rudy tries to double-cross the others, Frank gets whacked. But Doc beats Rudy when it comes to their shootout. Unfortunately, he fails to kill him.
Then Benyon tries to double-cross Doc, but Carol shoots him. After which, in some unspoken way (perhaps a Jedi mind trick?), Doc realizes that Carol had to bump uglies do the nasty have sex with Benyan to secure his release. And how does he show his gratitude? By slapping her around.
So … let’s just say the story follows Doc and Carol, as they run like hell from both the law and a very pissed off Rudy, who’s kidnapped a veterinarian and his wife (played, respectively, by Jack Dodson and Sally Struthers—the latter of whom played a character so annoying, I wanted to shoot her myself).
Doc continues to be all ticked off at Carol, even though sleeping with Benyon would hardly qualify as a delightful experience. Honestly, I found it the tiniest bit hard to believe that Doc couldn’t see that having sex with that slug to get her man out of the joint wasn’t a total sacrifice on Carol’s part.
Be that as it may, the couple is on the run with the money. And the double-crossing Rudy is in hot pursuit. Along with Johnny Law and whoever else. This leads to more chase scenes and shootouts. And a hellish ride for our heroes (??) buried in garbage in the back of a dump truck. However, apparently sharing a dump truck ride while encased in garbage is the kind of experience that brings people together. For afterward, they decide, “This marriage can be saved!”
Given the time when this movie was originally released and the fact that it’s a Peckinpah film, the overwhelming misogyny isn’t exactly a huge surprise. So if you can stomach that, it’s actually a rather exciting and entertaining movie to watch.
Warning: this video contains spoilers!
Steve McQueen is awesome—even if he plays a kind of dislikable character. The score by Quincy Jones was nominated for a Golden Globe. Ali McGraw holds her own well, against McQueen’s not inconsiderable star power. However, McGraw looks at times (not so surprisingly) like she’d rather be dying of cancer in a love story then being beaten by her co-star for doing what he asked her to do.
If you’re not squeamish about violent movies and take this one with the knowledge that it’s a Peckinpah film—i.e., a movie about bad men doing violence to each other in a world where women are angels or whores—I recommend this one!