• Bonnie’s Kids (Dark Sky Films) DVD Review

    Released by: Dark Sky Films
    Released on: June 29th, 2010.
    Director: Arthur Marks
    Cast: Tiffany Bolling, Steve Sandor, Robin Mattson, Alex Rocco, Scott Brady, Leo Gordon, Timothy Brown
    Year: 1979
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    Bonnie’s Kids – Movie Review:

    Written and directed by Arthur Marks in 1973, Bonnie’s Kids delivers pretty much everything you’d want out of a seventies drive-in picture – guns, girls, bloodshed and boobies. It’s all there, with a couple of good plot twists thrown in along the way and handled by an interesting cast of familiar faces.

    An excellent pre-credits sequence introduces us to Ellie (Tiffany Bolling), a twenty-four year old waitress, and her younger fifteen year old sister, Myra (Robin Mattson) – two beautiful girls who, since the passing of their mother, have lived under the roof of their cruel and perverted alcoholic stepfather, Charlie (Leo Gordon). When Charlie puts his hands on Myra, after catching her indulging in some dirty phone talk, Ellie arrives home just in time to nail him to the wail with the action end of a double barrel shotgun. Not sure what else to do, the girls toss Charlie’s corpse in the basement and drive to San Jose to hook up with the maternal uncle, Ben Eastman (Scott Brady), a wealthy publisher of men’s magazines.

    Uncle Ben takes the girls in, grooming Ellie for a modeling career and encouraging Myra to hang out with his trophy wife, Diana (Leonre Stevens), who takes an unhealthy liking for foxy young Myra. Unfortunately for Diana, Myra is far more interested in the handyman. Eventually Ben asks Ellie to drive out to a remote Palm Springs hotel and wait there for a package to arrive. Here she meets a private detective named Larry (Steve Sandors), hired by two hitmen, Eddy (Alex Rocco) and Digger (Timothy Brown). Ellie and Larry eventually figure out that the package in question contains a whole lot of cold hard cash and decide to split with the loot – but of course, neither Uncle Ben or Eddy and Digger are going to let that happen quite so easily.

    Ignore the fact that ‘Bonnie’ is barely mentioned and has nothing to do with the plot, as this is low budget seventies drive-in cinema at its best. Bolling’s lead performance is tough enough to work and her quirky good looks make her a fine casting choice for the picture, playing off of Mattson’s seemingly nymphomaniacal underage Myra quite effectively. Rocco (best known for The Godfather or for playing Jo’s dad on The Facts Of Life?) and Brown are great as the somewhat mysterious gangsters and it’s hard not to think of Pulp Fiction when you see them in action here. Their characters ground the film in a bit of mystery and help to flesh out some of the storyline’s more noir-ish elements. Look for a cameo from Sharon Gless of Cagney And Lacey fame, but don’t forget to pay attention to solid supporting performances from the enjoyably slimy Scott Brady and Leo Gordon – both are at their most despicable in this picture, Gordon especially.

    Fast paced, periodically clever and always interesting, Bonnie’s Kids is a well written crime story with loads of atmosphere, solid direction, impressive camera work and a fine score. The cast of B-movie regulars adds to the film’s impressive credentials and for sheer entertainment value, this is a film that’s tough to beat.

    Bonnie’s Kids – DVD Review:

    Dark Sky’s 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, taken from the film’s original 35mm negative, is a true thing of beauty. There’s barely any print damage to note and the colors are perfect – the film is clean looking without compromising its gritty tone while detail is strong throughout. Skin tones look lifelike and realistic and black levels are solid as well. Dark Sky has done a very impressive job here, presenting this obscure low budget seventies film in surprisingly pristine condition.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono mix, which comes with optional English subtitles, is clean, clear and well balanced. The score, from Carson Whitsett, sounds appropriately bouncy while the dialogue is always easy to understand. There isn’t a whole lot of range here, it’s an older mono track after all, but for what it is, this mix sounds just fine.

    The best of the extras on the disc is a fifteen minute featurette entitled Arthur’s Kids: A Conversation With Arthur Marks in which the writer/director talks about cutting his teeth on numerous episodes of Perry Mason before working on theatrical features such as this one. He then goes on to talk about forming the General Film Corporation before discussing the making of this particular film and some of the other pictures that he’d wind up making for AIP around the same time. Marks comes off as a pretty amiable guy, and he’s got a sharp memory. As such, his stories are worth listening to.

    Aside from that, look for the film’s dramatic theatrical trailer (which does a fine job of playing up Bolling’s Playboy pictorial), a trio of television spots, just under thirteen minutes of musical cues from the film, classy menus and chapter selection.

    Bonnie’s Kids – The Final Word Review:

    A fantastically entertaining piece of seventies drive-in excellence, Bonnie’s Kids looks great on this welcome DVD from Dark Sky Films and belongs on the shelf of anyone with an appreciation for exploitation films.

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      fantastically entertaining indeed.
    1. Gary Banks's Avatar
      Gary Banks -
      i was 14 when this came out and really wanted to see it. Never did. I see where it is on a blu ray with Centerfold Girls. Hmmmm....