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Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Strawberry Statement (1970)

At the height of the student protest movement, a young jock (Bruce Davison, LONGTIME COMPANION) falls for a pretty girl (Kim Darby, TRUE GRIT) in the movement. He joins, not because he necessarily believes in what they're doing, but he just wants to get laid. In 1970, Hollywood got student protest fever and three major films got released on the subject: GETTING STRAIGHT, Stanley Kramer's RPM and this one, although highly flawed, still the best of the lot. Very loosely based on the non fiction book of the same name by James Kunen, the film is compromised by an inane "cute" boy meets girl scenario that wouldn't seem out of place in an 1940s June Allyson/Van Johnson MGM flick. Although the location of the university is never named, it's clearly San Francisco and the director Stuart Hagmann (a TV director, this is one of only two movies he made) makes excellent use of the locale, avoiding the usual tourist shots. Cinematically, the film's highlight is its finale, a stunning recreation of the National Guard invading and attacking a peaceful sit-in which escalates into violence. It's so heads and above anything else in the movie that it looks like it's from another film. With James Coco, Jeannie Berlin, Bud Cort, Bob Balaban and Eddra Gale (Saraghina in Fellini's 8 1/2).

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