Thursday, April 23, 2009

cinema obscura: Ted Brenner's "Run Home Slow" (1965)

A grindhouse original, but where to start?

First, an admission: I saw this film only once, when I was a kid. "Run Home Slow," the first and only film directed by Ted Brenner, had the distinction of playing on The Late, Late Show on a Philadelphia TV station at the exact same time as its opening in a Philly grindhouse.

That has to be a first.

I remember it - vaguely - as being either truly awful or truly visionary, in an Alejandro Jodorowsky sort of way. What I do recall clearly is the outlandish, quite insane lead performance of Mercedes McCambridge, doing her patented Mercedes McCambridge thing (read: a retread of her performances from Nicholas Ray's "Johnny Guitar" and George Stevens' "Giant") as a tough cow-woman bent on revenge. She plays Nell Hagan, the scary matriarch in a family of dim-witted men who are on a mindless quest to avenge the hanging death of their ruthless father. mcCambridge stumbles around here in a Method Actor daze, mouthing monologues of mysticism and in a way that's equally deranged and entertaining - and that prompts one to want to re-evaluate her admired performances as Emma Small (in "Guitar") and the curiously named Luz Benedict (in "Giant").

Linda Gaye Scott, a young starlet at the time and reportedly an heiress to the Scott Paper Company, is on hand as a Hagan cousin who gets cozy with Nell's two brothers (even though they are blood relatives) but is largely on hand to take Nell's driving abuse.

This is a midnight movie that never found its niche.

Shot in black and white in a truly creepy, shadowy style by Lewis Guinn and scored by Frank Zappa - yes, that Frank Zappa - "Run Home Slow" may not be good but, once seen, it is not easily forgotten.

I offer myself as testament of that. In fact, I'd like to see it again.

Sick, right?


Paul said...

Linda Gaye Scott. Where is she now? She must have been a kid when she did this film.
I want more recent photos???PLEASE
Passionate Paul

Anonymous said...

Weird. I never heard of this movie, and I keep up with movies big time. Sounds ... curious.

jbryant said...

This one flew under my radar too. Speaking of early Zappa efforts though, I presume you've seen Timothy Carey's jaw-dropping, dementedly original The World's Greatest Sinner, which the young Zappa scored? TCM has shown it a couple of times in their TCM Underground Friday night slot.

wwolfe said...

As far as Zappa curios go, there's also the immortal "Memories of El Monte," one of the Penguins' many failed follow-ups to "Earth Angel." It's a charming song, extolling the singer's nostalgic longing for the doo-wop shows that once were held at the El Monte Legion Hall. (In all honesty, it's by far my favorite Zappa work.)

As far as bizarre, unforgettable movies go, the one that's haunted me is the made-for-TV "Pray For the Wildcats," a blatant "Deliverance" rip-off starring William Shatner, Robert Reed, Marjo, Angie Dickinson, and Andy Griffith. Instead of canoes down a Georgia river, it's dune buggies across the Mexican desert, with the high point being Griffith's salacious dance with a waitrees at a roadside cantina. His repeated lubricious uttering of "Come on, baby!" will probably never be deleted from my mental hard drive. American TV in the 1970s was deeply weird.