Monday, January 10, 2011

Joseph Ruben, "The Sister-In-Law" (1974).

c. David Grim (taken 5/4/08)

Here's something to get your mind off of whatever particular brand of winter blues you suffer from- "The Sister-In-Law". This flick gives you just about everything you could ask for. It's got a couple of fine looking, groovy 70's chicks with sass and style. Settings range from tree-lined country roads, to a swank Manhattan walk-up, to a truly opulent suburban McMansion in West Chester. There is plenty to marvel at including a lot of very odd artwork interspersed throughout.

The basic story includes the rivalry between a struggling writer and his castabout amateur philosopher brother (played well by John Savage, the only truly recognizable actor in the cast), and the inevitably tragic consequences. Savage comes home from his travels to find the titular character living with his parents during a time of marital separation. That would be cause enough for mild scandal, even if she did not intend on getting revenge on her wayward husband by sleepng with his younger sibling.

When the older brother makes the scene he eventually brings by his mistress, who promptly finds herself attacked in the pool by the wife. This follows a water-basketball match between the brothers that devolves into violence. Its good stuff, and sets off a series of events that results in the ultimate treachery. I won't spoil that by going into too many details, but if you are truly interested in seeing this due to my bare sketch of an outline, then you might not want to read any further.

What really distinguishes this potboiler from its B-grade kin is its script. It includes some delightfully quotable witticisms and rejoinders. At one point, the young buck is in a phone conversation with his brother and says, "I've had your wife and your mistress and I threw your heroin in a mountain stream". It's a defining moment and one that instantly elevates "The Sister-In-law" to classic status. Naturally there's a price to pay... but really, for that kind of cold dis, no price is too high.


Additionally, Savage's competence as an actor is overshadowed by his work on the score. His singing and composing efforts add something indelible to the proceedings. Listen carefully to the lyrics to get some insight into the thought process of the screenwriters, as well as a laugh or two. Throw in a cast of colorfully cheesy mobsters, and all the ingredients are in place for a well-spent hour-and-a-half in front of the tube.

1 comment:

  1. like this corresponding shot a lot...

    ReplyDelete