Starring: Susan George, Peter Fonda, Adam Roarke
Director: John Hough
The title makes it sound like they’re an item, but they’re really not. Larry (Peter Fonda) is one half of a pair of small-time hoods who have stolen a supermarket payroll, Mary (Susan George) is the bored thrill-seeker who hitches a ride with them in their souped-up Chevy ’68 and finds herself caught up in a high-speed car chase, much to her delight.
Director John Hough helms the story in a freewheeling, briskly edited Sam Peckinpahish style, and apes the serio-comic tone of Bonnie and Clyde, with the emphasis on coarse humour (“Every bone in her crotch – that’s what I’m gonna break,” Larry groans after Mary causes one of several delays) and a more innocent sense of fun (Larry and his partner are comparatively non-violent and refuse to carry guns on principle). There are some lively stunts, some jokey inserts involving the cops in pursuit, who are as much after thrills as Mary is, and it all plays out against some epic landscapes.
Although she struggles with the accent, Susan George delivers one of her most endearing turns as the white trash chatterbox, dressed in bell-bottom jeans and a bikini top. Peter Fonda’s gum-chewing, grinning Larry is seriously out to lunch; an out-of-luck stock-car racer, he’s turned to robbery as a way of scraping together the cash to get himself back in the game, or so he says, but in fact he treats their edge-of-the-seat getaway as if it’s a sporting event in its own right.
A trendily existential mood creeps in towards the end, and a strong suggestion that this is all a parable about a generation who have lost their moral bearings and whose pursuit of a good time is getting out of control.The conclusion can be read either as abruptly downbeat or perversely celebratory, an audaciously postmodern version of sailing off into the sunset. Either way, with its bright visuals, its good-looking cast, its array of shiny muscle cars and its easy-going vibe, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry is an extremely amiable slice of vintage Americana. The breezy location cinematography comes up very crisply on this most welcome DVD release.