New To Blu: Clay Pigeon (1971) - Reviewed

In a year that gave us Dirty Harry, Fiddler on the Roof, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, A Clockwork Orange and The French Connection we also got ...Clay Pigeon. This movie is what happens when you have a concept and no idea how to make it a story. It has a great cast, I mean who wouldn't want to cast Robert Vaughn, Burgess Meredith and Telly Savalas in the same movie? No one that's who, it's a great cast and all of them are....terrible in this. We'll get back to that later, for now, lets break this monstrosity down.

Apparently the director, Lane Slate, and the movie's star Tom Stern, forgot that pacing and holding interest were important in the visual medium of story telling. This thing crawls along at a pace that could make Godard scream "Would you make your damn point?!". The plot doesn't really exist, and they certainly take their time revealing what little of it there is. I'm not one to stop a movie and go do something else, but this time I really had to. I left for a half hour, made some food, wrote the review for another stinker then got back to this. It's painful, good luck.

The cinematography, if you can call it that, makes Dolemite look like it was shot by Geoffrey Unsworth. It's ugly, the shots are poorly framed and distract from the story telling. I don't know what else I can say about this except, good lord they even made shots of naked people unappealing. 

The acting is so bad that the fact that the terrible sound mixing for background noise and the actor's dialogue didn't drastically affect the performances. Robert Vaughn screams his way through the movie, Telly chews scenery like a pro but still comes off stiff and ineffective, Burgess Meredith makes the least believable Hippy Metal Artist in the history of cinema, it's painful. 

I'm not normally one to gripe with sound editing because I have a bit of hearing loss and sometimes the soundscape just can't be that important, but this one time I'm going to pounce. We all know dance and club scenes are shot without music so you can hear dialogue, that way they can put a good music track under it and have it seem great and you can still understand the actors. Here, they obviously did that part right, but then when it came time to insert the music it's so quiet it might not be there, and the tempo is so different from the speed everyone is dancing it's obvious it doesn't belong. The soundtrack on the other hand might be the only good thing about this movie with songs by Arlo Guthrie and Chris Kristofferson, not too shabby.

I've seen a lot of '70s exploitation flicks, in fact I'd say I've seen the majority of them, this doesn't stack up, not even close, avoid this at all costs. 

--Trevor West