Wednesday, January 8, 2020

JOE (1970), PUTNEY SWOPE (1969)

Peter Boyle as Joe

I've heard about the movie Joe for a long time. I knew it was about a bigot played by Peter Boyle, but the movie turned out to be a much different cinematic experience than I expected. We don't even get to meet Joe until about 30 minutes into the movie!

The plot starts with a young hippie chick named Melissa (Susan Sarandon) trying to get along with her druggie boyfriend. Unfortunately, she has a freak out and gets sent to the hospital. Her affluent father Bill Compton (Dennis Patrick) then goes to their pad when they aren't there to gather her belongs. The boyfriend comes home and provokes Compton who kills the young hippie in a rage.

The clearly upset Compton goes into a bar where we (finally) meet Joe (Peter Boyle), who has plenty to say negatively about blacks and gays. However, Joe has a special animosity towards those young hippie punks (Hey, boomers) who he thinks are destroying the moral fabric of society. The working class Joe and the upper class Compton form an unlikely friendship that leads them to unlikely places.

Joe is a very solid drama. Part of this can be attributed to the script by Haskell Wexler (Read the section of Bob Zmuda's book on Andy Kaufman for a look at how crazy Wexler was.) As I mentioned, the story did not go into predictable places and some may find parts of it dated or the ending a bit too much, but I still give it a thumbs up, especially for those who like films from the period.

Susan Sarandon in Joe

There's a new business model
in Putney Swope

Speaking of films of the period, how about Robert Downey Sr.'s film Putney Swope? Putney has a small cult following, but I had never seen it before today. The movie begins with one black board executive (named Putney Swope) at an advertising company becoming the CEO when the old CEO dies and the rest of the board votes Swope CEO because they all thought no body else would vote for him!

Swope cleans house and now the advertising firm is called Truth and Soul and big changes come about. The story is tongue and cheek and intentionally over-the-top. Some of the jokes don't land quite as solidly perhaps they were intended to, but there are a lot of truths that come out of this film. Truths about advertising, selling out, doing anything for money, pay inequality and getting rid of anyone who doesn't agree with you. We also have a midget president, an executive board that looks like members of The Black Panthers and some commercial ads that are often tasteless and usually pretty funny.

Glad to finally get these off my late 60's early 70's bucket list (Which I guess must be an unwritten supplement to the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die List).

The midget president in Putney Swope

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