Aug 10, 2005

Rip-Off (1971)

Out of respect to the passing of Richard Leiterman (see below), I decided that today's movie would be his and Don Shebib's followup to GOIN' DOWN THE ROAD.... the wonderful hippie road movie RIP-OFF (1971). This was also released on VHS way back in the early days of video rentals with the title VIRGIN TERRITORY, which makes it seem like a PORKY'S ripoff, which it certainly is not.

Don Scardino (today a TV director) stars as a hippie high school student who goes on an odyssey to check out this commune property that he has appropriated out in the sticks, chiefly just so he can get into bed with a classmate (played by the angel-eyed Susan Petrie). Don't let this synopsis fool you- this is a very funny, wise, and even rather touching movie. Yes, adolescent growing pains have been an oft-filmed subject for eons, but when the result is as engaging as this, why carp?

Not only are the small group of young men on the verge of being adults, they are also being seduced by the archetypal image of the hippie, so that they can forsake their prep school ties and jackets. You get to see some great footage of a rock concert in Nathan Phillips Square, a poster in a school hallway advertising a Friday night dance with music by Sonny Greenwich (!!!), as well as people with a lot of bushy sideburns. Scardino had just been in HOMER, a Canadian-lensed counterculture movie where he again plays a restless hippie youth, and he was an enjoyable presence in 1970's movies. After making a handful of pictures in the 1970's (including Cronenberg's SHIVERS, and one of my favourites, LIONS FOR BREAKFAST), the charming and talent Susan Petrie just seemed to disappear. Ah, Ms. Petrie, where are you now?

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