• (Action-Packed Double Feature) Fighting Mad / Moving Violation

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: 5/24/2011
    Director: see review
    Cast: see review
    Year: see review
    Purchase from Amazon

    The Movie:

    From Shout! Factory comes a double feature for two movies produced by Roger Corman, but under the 20th Century Fox label, rather than his company New World Pictures (which is most probably why this isn’t part of the awesome “Roger Corman Cult Classics” line Shout! has been outputting).

    Fighting Mad (1976) directed by Jonathan Demme; starring Peter Fonda, Lynn Lowry, John Doucette, Scott Glenn, Harry Northup, Noble Willingham.

    Tom Hunter (Peter Fonda) has returned home from the big city with his young son in tow, back to the life of an Arkansas farmer along with his brother and father. Turns out there’s a company of land developers taking land for strip mining and it’s going right through the family property. The company is owned by the powerful and wealthy Pierce Crabtree (Philip Carey) who has lots of people on his payroll and in his back pocket, including Senator Hingle (Noble Willingham), and he will stop at nothing to keep his plans in motion.

    As Tom starts reacquainting himself with the locals, like Lorene (Lynn Lowery) for example, he starts to realize how much is at stake with this court battle between the landowners and the evil corporation. He starts to become a bit of a scratch on the back of Crabtree who sends him a message, one Tom finds particularly personal, and so starts the pissing match and muscle-flexing between the two entities. They push Tom too far and as the poster says, “when you push too far, even a peaceful man gets fighting mad”, and boy does he ever get fighting mad.

    Jonathan Demme helms his third feature, for both his career and for Corman, and does a great job of it. From start to finish the film keeps moving, building up to a powerful finale, and pushing the viewer to the point of really wanting to see Tom Hunter kick some ass. This flick has some great stunts, lots of explosions, plenty of violence, and even a some nudity thrown in for good measure. Every thing a person could want from a good action movie, plus some political commentary thrown in the mix to get the common man’s blood pumping. One action scene in particular is pretty intense, involving Peter Fonda driving his motorbike through town with his son on the front and avoiding people trying to run him down.

    Demme also wrote the picture, and if there is anything to gripe about (and it’s not really even a gripe) it’s the fact that Fonda’s character doesn’t seem to carry himself like someone of whom tragedy has befallen. Bad shit happens and he doesn’t seem affected by it, other than his immediate reaction. Like for example, and without ruining anything, after the aforementioned bike chase, he just drives off like it was no big deal, rather than seeking help from some outside law enforcement. There are a number of examples that fall into the lack of realism. Yeah, it’s a movie, but its one that seems to try and keep things on the level. At any rate, its minor, and although it may detract from the viewing experience for some, others may not care.

    Fighting Mad is a solid revenge story, with some great scenes and should satisfy from start to finish. And to the knowledge of this viewer, who did look, this is the first time it has made its way to DVD.

    Moving Violation (1976) directed by Charles S. Dubin; starring Stephen McHattie, Kay Lenz, Eddie Albert, Lonny Chapman, Will Geer.

    Eddie (Stephen McHattie) is a drifter who comes into the wrong town and gets hassled by the local lawmen, driven to the outskirts of town, and told not to come back (sounds familiar...they did that again in First Blood). Well, he does go back and meets the beautiful Cam Johnson (Kay Lenz) at a snack bar. He schmoozes her to give him an ice cream and they frolic off to a stranger’s house and swim in the pool. Well, the stranger happens to be the wealthy and powerful H.L. Rockfield (Will Geer, Grandpa Walton), whose family the town is named for. Rockfield is being hassled by one of the very cops who came down on Eddie, and the young cop is trying to extort the old man. The older and corrupt Sheriff arrives, sees what is going on, and chases the young cop, shooting him. All this is witnessed by the little lovebirds from the tall grass and the Sheriff spots them. He gives chase, blaming them for the shooting, and gets everyone else looking for these supposed killers.

    They eventually make it to a prominent lawyer, played by Eddie Albert, and he gives them some protection. The Sheriff doesn’t want the story to get out as to what really happened, and digs himself deeper in his hole of corruption, taking along those who help him out. What results is a high-octane chase movie that delivers the goods and delivers a couple of messages. The end message may be icky-sweet, but it’s a message nonetheless.

    This is simply a very entertaining movie. There are elements of humor here and there, mostly concerning the dip shit sheriff, but this is by no means a comedy. It’s pretty intense throughout with some moments of brevity, including the comic pieces as well as some tender down time for the fleeing youths. The acting is great, with Stephen McHattie in a not-so-common lead role really taking this one and running with it. You know he’s got a marred past, but this time around was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and trying to survive. Eddie Albert is just THE man in this one. He comes off as a real bad-ass without ever doing anything violent. You just know he is a man (albeit a lawyer) you do not want to cross paths with. He’s a real powerhouse here and steals his scenes.

    A few items to note in this movie. One is the use of an air bag in one of the stunts (driving a car through a cinder block wall). Air bag in 1976? Can you say “innovators”? And the Sheriff loses the top of his car under a tractor-trailer a full year before Sheriff Buford T. Justice loses his in that little Burt Reynolds movie. There are a lot of awesome stunts to behold, car crashes galore, and tires falling off vehicles (for those of you who do not find that funny, you have no soul). This movie as said, is just plain entertaining from start to finish. And as with Fighting Mad, Moving Violation seems to have been neglected in DVD format until now.


    Both movies appear on this disc with 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers and they both look wonderful. There’s plenty of grain, and yes there is visible dirt, and of course that adds to the general feel of the films rather than detracting anything from them. It’s never an annoyance. Some scenes suffer from clarity, and those are night scenes anyway. The colors don’t jump off the screen, but neither are they flat and washed out. Both look great and Shout! should be proud of what they’ve done with these movies. They certainly have given them more love than 20th Century Fox ever have. Both movies have a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 track, with no issues to report whatsoever. They both sound fine, with a good balance, and serve the movies they support.

    The are some trailers to peruse through: Damnation Alley, Race With the Devil, Gordon’s War, and Dirty Mary Crazy Larry. Each feature also has respective trailers and tv spots. The main extras though are commentaries for each film. Fighting Mad has one with Jonathan Demme, Roger Corman, and chief actors Peter Fonda and Lynn Lowry. For the first two thirds or so they are able to maintain conversation and have some good stuff to share, but the last third of it really drags. And they don’t turn the volume back up during the dead spots so it gets pretty dull at that point. But when they do speak its good stuff. The commentary for Moving Violation has director Charles S. Dubin, producer Julie Corman, and actor Stephen McHattie. This one unfortunately is a bit of a dud. Mr. Dubin is in his 90s and is very quiet in his speaking, and it seems he may not be too aware of the savvy-ness of those who listen to these commentaries. At one point he explains how the movies make it look like they shot someone, but they really don’t. McHattie doesn’t have a whole lot to say unfortunately, and although Ms. Corman tries to keep it going, it is just a difficult track to get through. There are some interesting pieces of info in there, but there’s too much time in between said interesting parts. This track could really have benefited from a commentator to keep it more interesting and alive. One other note, the inside sleeve has a couple of alternate posters, which is an appreciated extra effort.

    The Final Word:

    Two balls-out action flicks, neither of which were seen too often prior to this release, and they look great 35 years after their theatrical runs. The extras aren’t on the same level as the features, but they still make the package well worth the money. You can not go wrong with this double feature.

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