(US - 1971)
Directed by Tom Stern and Lane Slate. Written by Ronald Buck, Buddy Ruskin and Jack Gross Jr. Cast: Telly Savalas, Robert Vaughn, John Marley, Burgess Meredith, Ivan Dixon, Tom Stern, Jeff Corey, Peter Lawford, Marilyn Akin, Marlene Clark, Belinda Palmer, Mario Alcalde. (R, 92 mins)
A laughable hippie revenge saga that had to look like a dated relic the day it was released, 1971's CLAY PIGEON was co-written by MOD SQUAD creator Buddy Ruskin but is otherwise an amateurish, heavy-handed vanity project for producer/co-director/star Tom Stern. Born in 1940, Stern was an up-and-coming young actor who had small roles in major films like THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD (1965), THE HALLELUJAH TRAIL (1965), and THE DEVIL'S BRIGADE (1968) before briefly finding a niche in biker movies. ANGELS FROM HELL (1968) and HELL'S ANGELS '69 (1969) did good business on the drive-in circuit, but CLAY PIGEON was a DOA flop that would pretty much kill any momentum the actor and budding auteur had going. Financed independently but distributed by MGM, who no doubt regretted the acquisition and relegated the film to the bottom half of drive-in double bills well into 1972, CLAY PIGEON's only accomplishment was convincing the rest of Hollywood that there was nothing to gain by getting into the Tom Stern game, which had to be a hard lesson learned by the lineup of big-name actors Stern somehow cajoled into appearing in it.