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  Glove, The You Have To Hand It To Him
Year: 1979
Director: Ross Hagen
Stars: John Saxon, Rosey Grier, Joanna Cassidy, Joan Blondell, Jack Carter, Aldo Ray, Keenan Wynn, Howard Honig, Michael Pataki, Frances E. Williams, Misty Bruce, Shane Mooney, Jeanne Lucas, Sally Kemp, Candy Bowen, Nicholas Worth, Logan Clarke
Genre: Drama, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: There has been a spate of attacks on prison officers recently, the most typical being last night when one of them (Aldo Ray) was picked up outside the gates of the jail after his shift by his girlfriend. After landing a big kiss on her lips, he was dismayed to learn her husband would be back later tonight but is reassured he would take ages to arrive, so they stopped in a layby and began to canoodle in the back seat. What they didn't bank on was the rear windscreen getting smashed apart by a hulking figure wearing a heavy metal glove that he proceeded to destroy the car with, not to mention the jailer, leaving him seriously injured. But the cops think they know the culprit, and bounty hunter Sam Kellogg (John Saxon) is on the case...

That culprit is Victor Hale, played by the huge ex-football star Rosey Grier who spent the nineteen-seventies appearing in oddball exploitation flicks such as The Glove, effectively his last of the decade whereupon he was distracted by other things. He certainly made an impression, especially when sporting the title garment which we are told packs a punch of five pounds of lead and steel, an experimental, so-called "riot glove" developed for use against peace campaigners ten years ago but quickly phased out for being too destructive. Hale has got hold of it after his first attack on a prison officer, his idea of revenge for the beating he received in jail, often at the wrong end of that glove - but he's wearing it now.

Fair enough, you'll now be thinking what you were in for was an hour and a half of Grier landing heavyweight punches on those who had crossed him, and if this had been made in the eighties that would probably have been the case. But this was still the seventies, and they did things differently back then, so what you had rather than an action thriller was more like a Chandleresque detective yarn with Saxon taking the limelight as he tries to trace Hale, complete with laconic voiceover in a manner reminiscent of the era's attempt to pour new wine in new bottles by updating familiar genres with the new-fangled elements of sex and violence, and in this case a world weary quality that made it more geared towards the adult audience.

Not that The Glove got enormously violent, in fact it was a bathroom that really took the most punishment from Hale and his power gauntlet, as for most of this Saxon tried on his best Humphrey Bogart impersonation (well, almost), aiming to win over Joanna Cassidy as Sheila, slightly ageing trophy wife of property magnate Walter Stratton (Jack Carter), who sees Kellogg's existence as far too uncertain to be worth giving up her life of luxury for, though she is still happy to go on picnics with him. He also is fighting to keep seeing his young daughter, whose mother, Kellogg's ex, is very demanding when it comes to the housekeeping funds he is supposed to supply, making it all the more imperative that he seizes Hale when there is such a huge bounty on his head thanks to the prison authorities.

They are very keen to recapture Hale, though they might be happier if he met with an... accident should he try to escape from Kellogg. There was a social conscience to the film where the apparent villain was actually not that bad a guy, he was simply suffering clouded judgement from his time inside which only occurred when he beat up the pimps who made his sister into a basket case, because that's the sort of activity we were led to believe happened in seventies ghettos, or the movie version at any rate. They lay this on pretty thick, showing us Hale being nice to little kids and supporting the tenement where he lives; he even plays a gentle guitar as he is a musician normally, when he is not busting the heads of mad racist prison officers. So there was a curiously contemplative tone to The Glove that resulted in a movie refusing to be slotted into the action genre, and as far as that went actor turned director Ross Hagen worked up a laid back atmosphere that would abruptly burst out in violence, including a scene in an abattoir where Saxon and his quarry beat each other up with legs of lamb (!). Music by Robert O. Ragland (that theme song!).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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