Jan 3, 2009

Kiss My Grits (1982)

Despite what you might gather from the title (perhaps added to capitalize on the catch phrase from the TV show "Alice", which was still hot at the time), this isn't really a freewheeling "good old boy" romp. Made when the cycle of rural exploitation pictures was grinding to a halt, this is a surprisingly dour little epic. Bruce Davison, of all people, has the lead role as a fun-loving screw-up who is being sent back to prison for breaking his parole, but hatches a scheme with his new girlfriend, a brassy blonde (Susan George) who is a kept woman of county tycoon Tony Franciosa, to rob the latter of some money and head to Mexico. Bruno Kirby has the bizarre supporting role as his slow-witted friend.

This would be the final picture made by Jack Starrett (who died in 1989), one of the better action directors of B pictures in the 1970's. But in truth, even his biker revenge flick Run Angel Run has more levity than this morose affair. It is more character-driven than his previous films, and certainly more downbeat than any other "good old boy" movie. One really feels the desperation of these characters, and understands their desire to make a last-ditch attempt at salvaging their lives. Rebecca Balding, the scream queen from Silent Scream and The Boogens steals the film in her one scene as Davison's ex-wife, who does a poor job at raising their son- she is a verbally abusive trailer tramp. (I hadn't realized it was her until I saw the credits.) This screen moment is sad and uncomfortably real. One even sees the helplessness in the smaller characters.

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