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Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Glove (1979) review


John Saxon (Sam Kellogg), Rosey Grier (Victor Hale), Joanna Cassidy (Sheila Michaels), Aldo Ray (Tiny), Keenan Wynn (Bill Schwartz), Michael Pataki (Harry Iverson), Hoke Howell (Tex Eastwood)

Directed by Ross Hagen

A bounty hunter attempts to track down and bring in a vengeance seeking, wrongfully accused ex convict out to kill the prison guards that tortured him with a steel plated riot glove.

The Short Version: Screen tough guy, Ross Hagen directs this low key, low budget and modest action, crime, revenge caper. While the film sorely lacks a lot of action, what little there is is in well done and incredibly and forcefully brutal. Worth checking out for the great genre cast of regulars and support players. The cat and mouse rapport between Saxon and Grier also makes the movie more interesting than it should be.

Yet another revenge movie from the late 1970's, this one plays out like an old crime program with lead hero, Saxon narrating the whole thing. This definitely adds to the level of cheese as Saxon, whose not a small man, just doesn't convince as a bounty hunter despite a very long career of playing villains in numerous movies and television shows both in America and abroad. Like its co-feature on this DVD, there's an attempt to give Saxon's character some additional sympathy by touching on his relationship with his daughter and his ex wife. If there had been as much action as exposition, this picture could have been one of the best drive in features of the decade. With that said, this movie is a couple levels beneath the same years similar programmer, SEARCH & DESTROY. But THE GLOVE isn't without its own merits.

John Saxon tries on THE GLOVE

The director, Ross Hagen, was a very familiar face on numerous old western TV shows and various others. He acted in his share of exploitation fare as well. Having directed a handful of pictures, THE GLOVE is probably the most well known of the lot. It's a shame, though, that this intriguing, yet silly revenge potboiler is a bit of a disappointment. It starts off like gangbusters and slowly runs out of steam. The only thing keeping it together is the odd voiceover narration from Saxon detailing his day to day activities and acting as a means to further the plot. His character is given a lot more depth than your typical bounty hunter. There's nothing comic book about this movie at all, and sadly, if it were, it would probably be a much more rewarding experience.

The opening of the movie is really good and sets the stage for an intense action experience wherein Grier totally demolishes a car in an attempt to get at Aldo Ray. It's a shame the remainder of the movie never quite reaches the brutal heights seen during the opening. From there, the movie quickly becomes an unintentionally funny film until the next brutal death scene comes along. Grier only exacts riot glove vengeance two times during the pictures 90 minutes leading up to his fight with Saxon atop a building at the end. One funny fight scene sees Saxon beating up on a homosexual couple and another has Saxon's Sam Kellogg dueling with a bad guy inside a meat factory with both men beating each other with slabs of beef!

Continuity error seekers will spot a scene early on where Grier's glove switches hands between shots and another inside a bathroom that Grier obliterates. A toilet gets smashed and falls apart, but is put back together in the next shot. Grier himself is an awesome presence and comes off as a good man, if not a slight bit demented in his quest for revenge. Grier was also one half of the THE THING WITH TWO HEADS (1972) co-starring Ray Milland and also with Roger Perry.

What really makes THE GLOVE worthy of curiosity value is the stellar cast of familiar faces to genre fans. There's Aldo Ray (THE CENTERFOLD GIRLS, BOG), Keenan Wynn (ORCA, PIRANHA, THE DARK), Michael Pataki (GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE, ZOLTAN) and Hoke Howell (KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS, THE KLANSMAN) in the cast to keep things mildly interesting when the action should be doing that. Nicholas Worth (DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE, SWAMP THING) also has a brief role as a homosexual bail jumper who gets into a brawl with Saxon's character. The movie also "benefits" from a ridiculous theme song that recalls some tunes heard in many blaxploitation movies from earlier in the decade.

Gratuitous scene of some very attractive ladies seen in the film for no other reason to be a gratuitous scene of some very attractive ladies

THE GLOVE is the 'B' feature paired on DVD with the similarly plotted SEARCH & DESTROY, the 'A' part of the bill, also from 1979. Dark Sky Films has done an amazing job in presenting both these minor league action opuses as a bonafide drive in double feature. This instantly became one of my favorite DVD's simply by virtue of its presentation. There's no option to select either movie, you simply hit play, sit back and enjoy great old theater and refreshment stand ads,trailers, then the first half of the bill, more ads and trailers then topping it off with the co-feature.

Both are suitably placed for this damn fine action exploitation double header DVD presentation. The movies aren't wholly memorable, or great examples of their genres, but fun for one viewing. Everything else surrounding the pictures is icing on the cake. Highly recommended to nostalgia buffs who will no doubt appreciate this DVD more than the casual viewer.

This review is representative of the Dark Sky DVD paired with SEARCH & DESTROY


Matt-suzaka said...

The very first review I ever wrote was for The Glove (and boy could you tell it was my first!)! I think I had the same feelings as you with the film overall. I loved the ridiculous opening but it does drag quite a bit after that point and even the epic finale of Saxon with the glove on is a bit of a let down. You would think that the glove would give him the power to take out Grier's character, but that is certainly not the case!

That opening credit sequence is something to behold too and the song was actually sung by Grier himself. Very awful, but very entertaining. I would like to check out Search and Destroy at some point, and I think you may have sold me on trying to pick up a copy of the double feature with the presentation you went over as well as you review of Search.

On a before I go side note, I met Saxon about a year and a half ago and talked about The Glove with him. He asked me how it ended and then he started to remember some of the stuff from the film, namely the homosexual encounter he had in the jacuzzi! Awesome stuff!

J. Astro said...

I agree with you about the film never quite living up to the expectations it sets in the first few minutes, but it's easy enough to get thru with Saxon as a supremely likable lead character, and Grier is incredible in this movie.

venoms5 said...

Hi, Matt! Would I ever love to sit down with Saxon and go over his career! He seems to crop up on TV Land at least once a week on BONANZA. When I was doing the caps for this review, I happened to leave it on to read all the end credits (and enjoy that lovely ballad; yes, I am a sucker for such things!) and it says Ernie Andrews sang 'The Glove'.

Grier did have quite an extraordinary career, though. I've seen it twice now and I think it warmed up to me a lot more the second time around. But I still wouldn't recommend it to anyone but the most dedicated of 70's exploitation film lovers.

venoms5 said...

@ J: I like the movie, it just could have been so much better. No doubt the budget was slim and what little action is there is quite good. Having seen it twice now, the sheer number of familiar faces is enough to see it several times.

Saxon has always been a favorite of mine, but he isn't all that convincing to me as a bounty hunter, at least not in a modern setting. I did like all the characterization he was given. If only they'd been able to balance it out with some more action.

Still, that DVD is a MUST OWN! It'll definitely be getting multiple spins in the DVD player!

Franco Macabro said...

I had never heard of this one, thanks for that review!

Rusty James said...

Man that brings back memories.

The Glove!

I remember ooh-ing and aww-ing over that cover and all us kids wanting to be bounty hunters after.

I seriously wonder if a similar concept could interest kids nowadays - something as simple as a dude finding a glove that gives him Bronson-like balls to fuck shit up.

Be fun.

venoms5 said...

@ Fran: If you got to enjoy the drive in experience at some point, you should seriously pick up this Dark Sky disc. The movies aren't worth it alone, but together, combined with all the ads, trailers and things, it's a damn fun trip down memory lane.

@ Motorcycle Boy: Yeah, the Glove on the cover of the artwork looks far more menacing than the one in the movie. When I first saw the poster for the movie, I thought it was some kind of futuristic flick.

I Like Horror Movies said...

Ive actually read J. and Matt's reviews and am still geared up to see this one someday, but now its primarily for the meat fight scene. Love Saxon, and I'll take this opportunity to rub in the fact that I got the chance to meet him muwahaha...

venoms5 said...

Dude, I'm all kinds of jealous. I could sit and talk to him all day about his whole damn career from television and his movies here and abroad.

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