Movies

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• Pity the poor outlaw trying to go straight. That's the premise of KID BLUE, an engaging parody-Western that casts conventional respectability in a ridiculous and highly unflattering light. Dennis Hopper plays the title role to perfection as the bewildered but determined ex-train-robber, looking for nothing more than a job and a chance at a new life. What he finds is a sadistic, mean-talking sheriff (Ben Johnson), an evangelistic preacher (Peter Boyle) attempting to invent the airplane one year early, and a succession of menial jobs, from shining shoes to plucking chickens, reaching their inevitable culmination at the assembly line of the Great American Ceramic Novelty Company. Along the way he is kicked, shot at, cheated, befriended by Warren Oates and seduced by his wife (Lee Purcell), and finally brought face-to-face with his past by a visiting old flame (Janice Rule). The moral tone of KID BLUE is certainly impeachable, but the script deserves high marks for succeeding in the tricky business of imparting social comment masquerading as high camp. Rated "PG."

• By the time YOUR THREE MINUTES ARE UP is up, one gets the impression that an interesting story has been shot down because the storyteller took too long to get to the punch line. Beau Bridges stars as an anonymous white-collar worker who is induced to abandon a bleak future of conformity and dull respectability in exchange for a short, not-so-merry ride down the path of complete irresponsibility. Unfortunately, the point of this movieâ€"that both alternatives lead to a dead endâ€"does not hit home until the final scene, and then only as a result of a violent shift in tone, from cheap comedy to cheap drama. In the meantime, the viewer is trapped in what seems to be a sophomoric demonstration of various ways to beat the system, along with facile justifications on why it is proper to do so. Most of the scenes are fast-moving, but they take so long to add up to anything that the movie's over-all pace seems deadly slow. Given the inferior development and indifferent script, the performances are somewhat better than might be expected. Bridges manages to avoid outright parody as a nebbish with no will of his own, who is ultimately unable to function either as a conformist or as a rip-off artist. Ron Leibman comes across effectively as a totally amoral opportunist with a "have a good time and damn the consequences" attitude; he leads Bridges down the garden path, then becomes appalled at the results. Janet Margolin registers well in an unsympathetic role as Bridges' fiance, whose chief ambition seems to be a pleasant life in suburbia. Production values are just average; the movie was obviously shot on a low budget. Rated "R."

• ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE resembles EASY RIDER in reverse, with its vision of an alien, hostile society as viewed from the perspective of a motorcycle cop. The relatively unknown Robert Blake stars as a would-be detective, patrolling the desert highways of Arizona with his slightly moronic partner, building up his physical strength to compensate for his short height, and dreaming of the day when he can turn in his Electra Glide motorcycle for a desk and an investigator's badge. Interesting if somewhat freaky supporting performances are given by Mitchell Ryan as Blake's superior, a callous meglomaniac, and Jeanine Riley as a barmaid with a fetish for policemen. The film's rudimentary plot, about a murder rigged to look like suicide, is impaired by a meandering script and some of the most artsy-craftsy direction this side of Andy Warhol. The paranoia and mutual suspicion between the hippie culture and the guardians of "straight" society is given more even-handed treatment here than in most earlier films of the genre, but one is left with an impression of two conflicting life-styles, each a threat to the other, with no peaceful resolution possible. Rated "PG."

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