No surprise here.
Smight's quirky little black comedy, like several other unlucky Metro titles of the period, was made during the chaotic reign of James Aubrey.
But this one was ideal for the '70s, when the counterculture was in full bloom and the period's youth audience more than ready to appreciate it.
Too bad the suits at MGM didn't "get it." Again, no surprise here.
The title tells all. Keach, strutting around and flaunting sexual intimidation, plays Jonas Candide who, in 1918, traveled around with his own portable electric chair, going from prison to prison with his protégé - the young assistant/mortician, Jimmy (Bud Cort) - charging $100 per execution.
Of course, nothing goes according to plan and the film's finale, under Smight's careful direction, is both pitch black and unusually touching.
Stacy Keach, a singular actor, had a flourishing (but brief) starring film career at the time, what with roles in "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," "Fat City," "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean," "Doc," "The Dion Brothers" (aka, "The Gravy Train"), "Luther," "End of the Road," "The New Centurions" and, with Cort (and hidden under heavy make-up), in Robert Altman's "Brewster McCloud" (also released in 1970), all within four years.
Smight also had a good year in '70, having also directed the underrated screen version of John Updike's "Rabbit Run," featuring memorable performances by James Caan and the late Carrie Snodgress, and two solid genre films, "Harper" (1966) and "No Way to Treat a Lady" (1968).
Jack Smight died in 2003.
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