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The clash of conflicting values in counter-culture 1970
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 08/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Starring Peter Boyle as Joe, an angry blue collar worker and Dennis Patrick as an upscale business executive whose daughter is recovering from a drug overdose, this 1970 movie captured the essence of the era.The world was rapidly changing then and values that were formerly held dear were being questioned and attacked by the counter-culture movement. When Joe sits in a bar and vents his anger at this changing world, he presents a picture of a very real human being.An act of violence brings the business executive into Joe's world, and the two men form an odd kind of bonding. They might be from different economic classes but they share a similar anger and confusion of a changing world that they are struggling to understand.Susan Sarandon plays the hippie daughter. This was her first movie role and the part is small but significant. She's young and fresh and just at the beginning of her career.The film has a rather unsettling effect and manages to capture all the complexities and contradictions of its time. I sat on the edge of my seat as the drama unfolded, glad for the comic relief of the satirical humor. I wonder why the sound track of the songs never became popular. The words were hard hitting and emotion stirring. Perhaps it was because it played to the festering unease that lay simmering below the surface, just waiting to erupt.Every single scene was laced with irony and contrast. And every scene had its moments that made me squirm uncomfortably. There were no subtle nuances; everything was crisp and clear. And the script brought the voices of its time to the screen without any pretty packaging.The screenplay was good, and so was most of the acting, although in retrospect it seems a little overdone. But that's easy to say thirty years later, when the hippies have all grown up and the results of the upheaval in our country turned out to be more of social awareness than confrontative violence. In 1970 though, it was different.Don't miss this video. It's an historical view of a bygone era. And totally fascinating."
Still Very Relevant
Only-A-Child | 06/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Caution-possible spoilers ahead..... Just watched 'Joe' for the second time. The first time was 30+ years ago on an Air Force Base. I was reminded of that by the Air Force overcoat with Tech. Sgt. stripes wore by the boyfriend/dealer; we airmen had quite a laugh the first time that appeared on the screen because that is a 'lifer' rank. Over the years I have carried several other images from the film. Foremost was the absolutely beautiful and vulnerable daughter of the executive. As someone else commented, you could not take you eyes off her. I did not realize until now that this was a 20-year old Susan Sarandon in her first movie. What a loss that she did not do more movies when she looked like that. I also recall the irony of having a counterculture hero like Peter Boyle playing the title role of a right-wing gun nut. Not unlike George C. Scott playing generals in Dr. Strangelove and Patton. And of course the shocking ending made a lasting impression.
30+ years ago it was the most talked about movie that ever played on the base. We thought it was a great film then and I have been reluctant to see it again because I was afraid that it would be as disappointingly dated as Easy Rider. But watching it today I was amazed at how well the film has held up. It is a very strong script with few holes although you have to wonder about the boyfriend immediately getting out of the bathtub when Sarandon gets in with him.
Searching for an explanation of why this film is still so entertaining I have to think it has something to do with the perfect physical casting. Boyle was physically believable as Joe (as others have pointed out his portrayal would inspire the Archie Bunker character a few 'years later). Did Ted Knight model his 'Caddyshack' character-Judge Smails after the Dennis Patrick's advertising executive in 'Joe'? They look alike and sound alike. Patrick was totally believable as the wrapped-too-tight upper middle class executive. And Sarandon's doe-eyed innocent with the Raggety Ann doll still evokes a protective response from all male viewers-perfect casting.
The nude and drug scenes actually hold up (they were very provocative for their day) and are as explicit as anything to be found in 'Thirteen'. About the only thing that dates this film is that the violence is not realistic or graphic. 'Joe' was about the same time as 'The Wild Bunch', and the tone of movie violence had a just begun to change.
Another reason this film holds up is that events in the past couple of years have brought back the relevancy of the theme and context of this film. In the film both types of 'conservatives' are portrayed as full of fear and hate toward the unconventional ways of the counterculture; and filled with envy at their free and hedonistic lifestyle. The counterculture is portrayed as mocking the straight culture; and although paranoid toward conservatives (legitimately so given that this was just a couple months after Kent State) they cannot resist flaunting their lifestyle in an attempt to antagonize. The political landscape is not all that different 30+ years later. I'm not sure conservatives envy young people and liberals as much as 1970, but they fear and hate them more.
An excellent film that surprisingly is as relevant now as it was in the early 1970's.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
Dated, but still engaging
firstname.lastname@example.org | Las Vegas, NV | 03/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie introduced the world to two new stars. One, Peter Boyle, became a star instantly, and still remains one today. We also get the debut of Susan Sarandon, who star really wouldn't shine until, well, how about "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"? She certainly shone for me there! However, she was a small if important figure in this movie, and it's Boyle who carries it. What's strange about the film is that the "star" and title character does not get introduced until over thirty minutes into the film, before he virtually takes it over. We are first introduced to Sarandon and her hippy-dippy drug dealing boy friend. They are leading relatively aimless lives, and the boyfriend is as scummy as a drug dealer gets, in that he rips off his customers. When Sarandon overdoses, we are introduced to her parents, we see the first of two foil situations in this movie. There are two tugs-of-war going on in this movie. There is the generation gap here, as the hippy kids can't figure out why the parents would want to work the way they do to get the life they lead. Yes, the parents are stereotypes of people who's joy in life consists of their evening cocktail, but the alternative presented by the kids here is not that appealing either. Then there is the tug-of-war between white collar and blue collar. Sarandon's parents are relatively wealthy, and after the father has his "conflict" with the boyfriend, he drowns his sorrows in a bar. Enter Boyle, who has been raving about everything wrong with current society in a manner that must have inspired Archie Bunker. When white-collar tells Joe the blue-collar that he wailed on a hippie, he becomes Joe's hero. A little too much though, as Joe starts involving himself in a life he can only imagine. We see scenes between the two, and then with their wives involved, that show much uncomfortable ness as they realize (well, all but Joe seem to realize) that they live in different worlds. But they also find that their bond (hating hippies) is strong enough that they even begin to admire each other. The film takes no real sides in all four areas. All have their points, and all have their faults. The youth understandably don't want to turn into their parents, but don't seem to offer a decent alternative. The older people are too set in their ways, but they earned their livelihoods, and this is how they choose their later years. The white-collars are a bit spoiled, but they seem to have education on their side. The blue-collars have a lot of prejudices based on ignorance, but in a way are the salt of the earth. The strength of this picture is that this is all presented while telling an unusual male-bonding story."
"Joe"-An anti-countercultural figure.
email@example.com | 10/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Joe" is a portrayal of an angry, seething hardhat who simply cannot come to grips with the idea that "'dose hippies" have seized the culture and are gleefully butchering everything America stands for in the process. The first scene which introduces us to Joe Curran features him in a downtown New York bar drunkedly screaming about "nigga'-luvin' hippies and social workers, "niggas screwin' and gettin' paid for makin' babies", and, finally crescendoing to reveal his raging desire to "kill one 'uv 'em...I would.I'd like to kill one 'uv 'em". He confesses this to someone who only minutes before did just that: William Compton, nicely played by Dennis Patrick, whose daughter Melissa (Susan Sarandon) was under the drug-induced spell of the late 'Frank' (Patrick McDermott). The two come to form an alliance that has an interesting duality. Joe embraces him out of enormous respect because it ia something that Joe can only hollar about doing. Compton yields to Joe's affection for him out of fear that he'll tell the police or possibly even try to blackmail him, as his "I just did" response to Joe's bar rant about killing "one 'uv him" leads Joe to discover that Compton is the killer. And it is how this unusual alliiance begins to grow into almost a true friendship between a suit and a blue-collar "joe" that truly intrigued me about the film. And much of what Joe says throughout the movie-while boorish and harsh in tone-do represent legitimate gripes of a contentious war veteran experiencing a type of change which he is simply not able to cope with. While bleeding-hearts of that era rationalized on and on about a "new generation that demanded change"-especially anyone writing for The New York Times then, Joe cursed this "change" as a concerted effort to destroy the America that he knew, loved and fought for. It continually reminded me of a riot in the financial district of New York in 1969 where a legion of hardhats pummeled a group of NYU students vociferously protesting the Viet Nam War, tore down some flag that they had hung outside a major edifice there, and in its place hung the American Flag. Even just after viewing te movie, newsreels of that day flashed through my mind and I kept thinking, "That's Joe"."
Flip side to "Easy Rider"
firstname.lastname@example.org | 01/08/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I saw the shock ending of "The Sixth Sense," Ithought back to the last time a movie's ending took my breath awaylike that, and I thought instantly of "Joe." It's "Allin the Family" plus "Easy Rider" equals "TaxiDriver," and it's unforgettable. (At the time, it wasconsidered a hard "R," and people enjoyed disparaging it forits profanity and violence, including matrons in the lobby afterward,although I noticed none of them left early. One night, at theByron/Carlyle Twin Theater in Miami Beach, a man had a heart attack inthe audience during the last half of the picture.) Some of theperformances are clunky, as is some of the camerawork and patches ofdialogue. But overall, this look at a blue-collar American bigot'simmersion into the world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll istremendously effective. There's a single camera shot near the end,taken from inside a dark house where some casual music is playing,looking out onto a snowy yard over which two shotgun-wielding men areapproaching, and it's one of the most chilling moments of portent infilm. If you still need a reason, well, hey, it was young Sarandon'sfirst movie, and you get to see her in a tub."