Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry

Cinema Monolith: 7/10 The Monolith
IMDb: 6.7/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: *** out of 4

Released on May 17, 1974
Rated PG
93 minutes

Directed by John Hough

Written by Leigh Chapman and Antonio Santean, from the novel by Richard Unekis

Cast: Peter Fonda, Susan George, Adam Roarke, Vic Morrow, Roddy McDowall, Kenneth Tobey, Lynn Borden, Eugene Daniels, Elizabeth James, James W. Gavin, Janear Hines, Adrianne Herman

One of the most non-stop and action-packed car chase movies I’ve ever seen, and a fun one to boot; Peter Fonda, Susan George, and Adam Roarke star as a trio of losers on the run after a robbery, making their escape in a pair of punched-up vehicles—a Chevy Impala and a Dodge Charger—while being chased by car and helicopter cross-state by the local police. It was a drive-in cult success during it’s run in the summer of ’74, and is jam-packed with thrilling wall-to-wall chases, crashes, and stunts, all courtesy of British director John Hough.

Fonda plays Larry, a race car driver with dreams of taking NASCAR by storm; Roarke plays Deke, his more level-headed mechanic. Together they rob a supermarket of $150,000, which they hope will help finance their climb into big-time racing, but during their getaway they find themselves saddled with a passenger: Larry’s one-night stand Mary, played by George. The three then spend the rest of the film trying to evade police dragnets, roadblocks, and vehicular pursuit, with angry sheriff Vic Morrow working the chase via helicopter.

At first I was put off by the lack of likeable characters, and didn’t care if anyone won; our three leads were reckless fools and none too bright, while Morrow’s sheriff was nothing but a flat-out dick. But after awhile I accepted everyone for who they were, and concentrated on the chase, and the abundance of cool action sequences and shots staged by Hough. And there were other factors which made this an enjoyable watch as well: the character interactions, the constant bickering between Larry and Mary, and some good lines of dialogue that had me chuckling out loud throughout.

And those stunts! It was nice to see an action film where everything on-screen was real, and performed by real people. Many times you could tell that Fonda was actually behind the wheel when various turns, skids, and collisions took place, and it was obvious that Morrow was in the helicopter as it pursued the Charger at high speeds. One shot in particular was just plain awesome: the Charger powering into a left-hand turn with the copter right behind, tilted down to where its blades were nearly touching the ground. In fact, I love that shot so much, I think I’ll share it with you here.

Though Dirty Mary Crazy Larry was basically nothing but a ninety-minute car chase, it was done with gusto, and as a drive-in action flick it most certainly delivered the goods (and a sudden, no-nonsense ending that was just outstanding). The characters weren’t necessarily ‘heroes’ in the common meaning of the term, but you couldn’t help watching them and being fascinated by them, like one can’t help stopping and staring at a car accident…or a train wreck.  (7/10)

10 comments on “Dirty Mary Crazy Larry

  1. Sun City Doug

    That is a great chase scene with the chopper and Charger. Back then a Charger was a Dodge and not a device that was plugged into a cell phone. Also, love the Buffalo Drive-in marquee !


    • Todd B

      That’s why I added ‘Dodge’ to ‘Charger’ in the review…I didn’t want any confusion! And that Buffalo marquee is a lot of fun…I have a bunch of different ones stored up for any type of drive-in movie I might review. Thanks for the visit, Doug!


  2. Been meaning to rewatch this one. Saw it numerous times on City TV years ago out of Toronto growing up. A staple of late night TV. Loved it as a youngster for the rebellious nature I’m sure. Let’s not forget Roddy is in there as well. Shout Factory got it right releasing this on blu as a double feature with Race With the Devil. Another great chase flick with horror as the back drop and Warren Oates to boot. Oh yeah, and I’m pretty sure I had a crush on Susan George about this time as well.


    • Todd B

      I caught this on TV as a youngster as well, but I don’t remember liking it as much then as I do now. And I have that double feature, but on DVD…love Race with the Devil (review forthcoming). And I’ll admit, Ms. George looked fairly sweet in that blue bikini-top thing she wore throughout the film!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. LOL I was wondering whether to inform you on the 6 days of Dirty that there was only 5 Harry films but I put it down to the fact that you had probably lost your marbles after all those late nights watching and reviewing films every night and falling asleep on the keyboard. But no! It was all part of the cunning plan, drop in Dirty Mary Crazy Larry. What fun. I’ve seen this in my teens and I really need to get watching it again soon as I can’t really remember anything apart of great car chases throughout. Strangely I have the novel in the lair (charity shop buy) though I’m never likely to read it.


    • Todd B

      Oh trust me, I definitely lost my marbles during all this, but thanks for at least thinking about informing me! But that was the plan from the start…five Dirty Harry films and a sixth with ‘Dirty’ in the title. I was going to have several of these ‘6 Days of…’ weeks this year (and still will), and with the Dirty Harry films, I didn’t want to break it up with ‘5 Days of Dirty’! You’ll have to tell me if you like the novel for Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, if you ever get around to reading it; I wonder how much of the story was changed from book to film.


      • geelw

        I was also wondering about that sixth film and actually thought (for a minute) you’d add Thunderbolt and Lightfoot into the mix. But hey, I hit my head more than you did on stuff around the house, so there’s that.


      • Todd B

        I guess I created a real mystery with this elusive ‘6th Day’ film! Early on, I was going to review Gran Torino for the sixth film, because I’d thought at one time it was going to be a Harry Callahan story. But then I went with the ‘Dirty’ theme, and the rest is, as the say, history.


  4. geelw

    Annnnd of course, you have to see this with Vanishing Point just because you need that other 70’s film with a nice car getting totally ruined as a finale.


    • Todd B

      Ha, yes! And I believe they use a Dodge Charger (or something similar) in that one as well. And speaking of cars getting ruined, we might as well throw Grand Theft Auto into the mix!


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