DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

GRASSHOPPER (director: Jerry Paris; screenwriters: from the novel The Passing of Evil by Mark McShane/story by Jerry Belson and Garry Marshall/Jerry Belson/Garry Marshall; cinematographer: Sam Leavitt; editor:  Aaron Stell; music: Billy Goldenberg; cast: Jacqueline Bisset (Christine), Jim Brown (Tommy Marcott), Raymond Bieri (Roosevelt Dekker), Tim O'Kelly (Eddie Molina), Joseph Cotton (Richard Morgan), Corbett Monica (Danny Raymond), Roger Garrett (Buck), Christopher Stone (Jay Rigney); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Jerry Belson/Garry Marshall; National General Pictures; 1970)

"A better than expected dark showgirl life lesson story, that still underwhelms even if it never turns as vulgar as it suggests it would."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A better than expected dark showgirl life lesson story, that still underwhelms even if it never turns as vulgar as it suggests it would. Director Jerry Paris ("Viva Max"/"Never A Dull Moment"/"How Sweet it is!") shows how a young woman's dream of glamor never materializes in the way expected. It's based on the novel The Passing of Evil by Mark McShane, as writers Jerry Belson and, Happy Days creator, Garry Marshall keep it gritty, comical and tantalizingly like a soap opera.

The naive Christine (Jacqueline Bisset) is the 19-year-old from a small border town in British Columbia, who treks to the States to meet her hometown boyfriend (Tim O'Kelly) living in LA. But when her car breaks down decides to accept a car ride with a second-rate club comedian (Corbett Monica) to Vegas. Her good figure enables her to be a Las Vegas chorus girl, but her lack of talent and lack of ambition leads her to make a series of bad decisions, as she soon travels to LA to connect with her hometown boyfriend. Once there Christine gets turned off by the prospects of a boring bank teller job and her dull boyfriend's yearnings for a suburban family life, so she splits for Vegas. Once there she marries the protective and ambitious black Vegas casino greeter Tommy Marcott (Jim Brown, former football star). On a dinner date with slimy construction magnate Roosevelt Dekker (Raymond Bieri), Christine is beaten. In response, Tommy gives Dekker a thrashing. In a further response the mob kills Tommy, and Christine's life goes spiraling downward from then on.

Next on Christine's agenda is becoming a kept woman by a rich older man (Joseph Cotton). This leads to working the Vegas strip as a $50 whore, and of her losing her innocence forever by the age of 22 as she finds herself burned out and on the road to ruin.

It turns out to be a message movie about the hard knocks of life, warning us what can happen if leading a reckless life.

REVIEWED ON 2/7/2014       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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