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DIRECTED BY: Richard Robinson
FEATURING: Leslie Uggams, Michael Christian, Shelley Winters, Ted Cassidy, Slim Pickens, Dub Taylor
PLOT: Traveling alone in the Deep South, a black singer’s car breaks down and she finds herself the “guest” of an obsessive wannabe country singer and a town full of redneck oddballs.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: This drive-in “hicksploitation” movie features eccentric characters, one or two moments of deliberate surrealism, and a few other scenes that may be unintentionally surreal, but ultimately it doesn’t rate as much more than a curiosity. Those who like their 1970s exploitation movies on the sleazy and offbeat side will want to take a flyer on Poor Pretty Eddie, but it’s not quite the lost cult classic it’s being advertised as.
COMMENTS: In its opinion of Southern hospitality, Poor Pretty Eddie falls somewhere between Deliverance and 2000 Maniacs. The flick plays on urban prejudices about backwards bumpkins, and on fears of being a stranger in a strange land with inscrutable customs where tribal loyalties are more important than justice. An interesting, colorful cast adds flavor to the sordid (but not graphic) scenario, which revolves around rape and racism.
As Liz Weatherly, future TV actress Leslie Uggams is, unfortunately, about as appealing as her last name. In the beginning she projects the persona of an urban snob rather than a harried celebrity seeking privacy; by looking down her nose at the hicks, she threatens to move our sympathies towards her future tormentors. When she turns victim she becomes unforgivably passive, becoming a symbol of oppression rather than someone we identify with. Michael Christian, who also found steady work as a TV character actor, does a fine job as the deluded Eddie, dressing like Elvis in a powder-blue leisure suit with rhinestone spangles for an awkward “audition” for an unappreciative Uggams. Acting as a foil to Eddie is hulking handyman and dog breeder Ted Cassidy (“Lurch” from the Addams Family); he’s smarter than he appears and, since he fights back, he becomes more Continue reading CAPSULE: POOR PRETTY EDDIE (1975)