(US - 1975)
Directed by Robert Mulligan. Written by Eric Roth. Cast: Jason Miller, Linda Haynes, Bo Hopkins, Victor French, John Hillerman, Richard Evans, Bart Burns, Lee de Broux. (PG, 99 mins)
As the critically-acclaimed KILLING THEM SOFTLY sets new standards for mainstream audience alienation and looks to be out of theaters altogether by the end of its second week, it's clear that it will find a cult following in due time. Based on a 1974 novel but updated to 2008, KILLING THEM SOFTLY is a close relative of similar "working stiff" mob dramas like 1973's THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE (Walter V. Higgins wrote both source novels), and like KILLING THEM SOFTLY, it too failed to catch on with general audiences and made a quick exit from theaters only to be reappraised in subsequent decades. These days, THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE is ranked with the essential mob thrillers of the 1970s. There's another somber, character-driven mood piece from the 1970s that tanked upon its initial release and is held in higher esteem by its fans today, but even now, it's still much lesser-known than THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE: the riveting, quietly powerful Los Angeles-set THE NICKEL RIDE.
99 AND 44/100% DEAD (1974). THE NICKEL RIDE finally being available on DVD (in 2.35:1 anamorphic, not 1.78 as the packaging erroneously indicates) is a great thing, but pairing it with one of the weirdest major studio films of the 1970s, much less as part of an "Action Double Feature," does it few favors in its quest for some long-overdue recognition.