When midwestern Calvinist father George C. Scott’s daughter vanishes on a Church Youthtrip to California, he hires greasy PI Peter Boyle to find her. Boyle discovers a rough and nastyporn loop that she appears in. When Boyle turns out to be untrustworthy, Scott fires him andtravels to California himself, descending into the world of the sex industry in an increasinglydesperate and violent search for his daughter.
Schrader was still very much working out his own issu…s with the Dutch Reform Church inhis script, which leads to a movie that is extremely interesting, if highly improbable and rathermuddled. Both in terms of plot and conflicted identity, it is the clear ancestor of JoelSchumacher’s 8mm (though Scott, at least, is not presented with a snuff film starring hisdaughter). Whatever the movie’s shotcomings, one of them is not Scott, whose performance istremendous in that screen-devouring way that was his specialty, and Jack Nitzsche’s score isalternately ironically nostalgic and deeply ominous.
The sound is mono, and for about the first half of the film works just fine, barring someminor distortion, and the odd hiss and gurgle. Then, beginning in the scene where Scott goes toa porn king’s office, an strange echo begins, and the dialogue continues to echo distractingly forthe rest of the film, to greater or lesser degrees.
The print of this 1979 release is in good shape. There is some grain in the exterior long shots,but otherwise the grain is minimal to nil. The picture is very sharp (especially for a 25-year-oldfilm). Colours, blacks and flesh tones are all fine, and there is no visible edge enhancement.A nice transfer.
Trailers for Big Fish, Secret Window and The Opposite of Sex, butthat’s it. The menu is basic.
Very watchable, even if it can’t really be considered a success. At least the film has thingson its mind, and Schrader’s dialogue with his religious upbringing is absorbing. Too bad aboutthe sound, though.
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