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  Suzanne Christ, Sondra
Year: 1974
Director: Michael Barry
Stars: Sondra Locke, Paul Sand, Jared Martin, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Barry, Gregory Enton, Penelope Spheeris, Rudy Lavalle, David Moody, Robert Feero, Kari Avalos, Philip Schultz, Gloria Stockton, Charles Schull, Winifred Mann
Genre: WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Film Maker (Jared Martin) wishes to fulfil his vocation and create a piece of art, but to do so he must get his hands dirty in the world of commerce to raise funds for his important vision, and that means going around potential investors and banks cap in hand to request they put up the budget. This does not generally go too well and will end in him yelling "BASTARDS!" at the money men when they refuse his offers, but as luck would have it he and his team do find someone to back them and at a meeting in an outdoor café, essentially tell him, fine, give me the money and get lost. While there, the Film Maker sees a woman at a nearby table, and decides she would be perfect for him...

Perfect as the leading lady in this magnum opus of his, which curiously mirrors the activities of the actual director here, Michael Barry in what would be his sole foray into helming a project. He had the backing of his famous father at least, he being Gene Barry, the star of The War of the Worlds and latterly some high profile adventure television shows (including, er, The Adventurer - self-explanatory, see?) and Gene was good enough to appear in the film in an acting capacity. Quite who he was playing was rather more difficult to discern, but fans of his small screen roles would likely be aghast at his appearance here, not his usual compact frame but a roly-poly figure not unlike an ostrich egg.

Whether Gene was sporting a fat suit or whether he had seriously let himself go was not clear, but he was the conservative in this loose plot, a media commentator who has been making a television documentary about, um, well it seems to consist of vox pops mixed with his Jackson Sinclair character spouting opinions about the modern world as seen in 1972 (though this was only sneaked out into selected cinemas two years later, to a deafening silence, as far as acclaim went). He was merely one strand of what amounted to three plots vying for your attention, the other two starting with the Film Maker and a mute little girl in a psychiatric sanitorium who is otherwise a genius.

It was Martin's director who was the main focus, and precisely what each of these plotlines had to do with one another was a mystery not cleared up by the time the end credits rolled. The stranger recruited for the art project was played by Sondra Locke, the titular Suzanne which saw this supposedly drawn from the Leonard Cohen song of the same name, though again, any connections were difficult to discern. However, Paul Sand as her boyfriend, an artist too, bore a striking resemblance to Cohen facially, presumably why he was hired, though his voice was markedly none too similar. All these characters meandered their way through just under ninety minutes with a lack of urgency, no matter how serious the expressions on their visages, in a very hippy hangover experimental seventies manner.

For those who give Suzanne a try decades after it was made, brought in by the promise of actors who they may recognise - Richard Dreyfuss was present too, in a minor role as some sort of accountant in Martin's entourage - the response was probably not going to be benevolent, in fact unless you were attuned to the counterculture spirit of the age, you were not going to get along with this at all. Even if you were attuned, you could be brought to the conclusion that should you be still following the hippy dream in the early seventies, you were wasting your time as far as this unintentionally highlighted, as nobody here with an out of the ordinary thought was happy in any way, shape or form. If you had heard of it, this would be down to its grand finale, as Martin has been obsessed with the idea that Locke was the Second Coming of Christ and proceeds to crucify her, despite nothing in the rest of the film backing this conviction up. Locke was her usual unnerving self, which didn't help much, and without any context the whole rambling, shapeless mess could frustrate the unwary viewer. Music by Don Caverhill.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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