Country: United States
Genre: Action/ Drama
Director: Phil Karlson
NOT WORTH YOUR TIME
Ron Lewis (Joe Don Baker) has it pretty good. He owns his own bar, with his girlfriend, singer Susan Barrett (Conny Van Dyke) as the star attraction. There’s one sticking point between the two. He’s a gambler. Uh, oh. We think we know where this is going. Nope. Art Powers, whose novel formed the basis of the screenplay by Mort Briskin, has something different in mind.
While out on the road, Ron is shot at by a man in a yellow convertible for no apparent reason. The gunman misses Ron, but blows out the tire on his car. Shortly after Ron pulls into his garage, he’s attacked by the deputy sheriff. In a surprisingly bloody brawl, Ron beats the deputy to death.
It would seem like an obvious case of self defense, but the fix is in. Ron goes to prison. When he gets out, there is going to be hell to pay.
Now, that’s a perfectly serviceable premise for an action thriller, but screenwriter Mort Briskin flubs it. He wastes time with “comic” dialogue which isn’t funny. Even though Ron is the hero, his friends do all his detective work for him. The screenplay is poorly structured.
The action, courtesy of director Phil Karlson, is no great shakes, either.
For example, at one point, Ron is trapped in a car with two would be assassins. He drives the car onto the railroad tracks, right in the path of an oncoming locomotive and dives out right before impact. At least in theory. As shot, the killers in the car would have had plenty of time to get out of the car, foiling Ron’s plan.
Fortunately, that leads straight to one of the two memorable moments in the film. The stuntman who is rolling away from the car is enveloped in flames after the train hits the car on the tracks. I doubt that was intentional, but man, it was an awesome visual!
The other fun moment was when Ron was trying to get an assassin to cough up who ordered the contract. When the assassin refuses, Ron shoots his ear off. Didn’t see that one coming.
But it doesn’t help all that much. The story and dialog isn’t clever enough and the pace is too slow. The characters don’t really ring true, either. Not so much Ron, but the supporting characters, like the contract killer Ron meets in the joint, or the black patrolman who helps Ron.
I suppose there’s some pleasure to be had from the time capsule images of Tennessee back in the early 70s, but that’s pretty thin gruel.
Modern viewers would be bored to death by Framed, but even old farts like me don’t need to see it.