50-Movie All Stars Collection, Disc 6

Here’s the last disc in the first half (more or less) of this TV-movie megapack. Three war-related movies and the making of a revolutionary!

Coach of the Year, 1980, color, Don Medford (dir.), Robert Conrad, Erin Gray. 1:36 [1:34, jacket time 2:00].

Chicago Bears star comes home from Vietnam partially paralyzed; Bears want to hire him, but as a PR person, not a coach. Meanwhile, his nephew gets sent to juvenile hall for one of many offenses—and, visiting him, the old football player offers to coach the juvies. Naturally, after getting clobbered when he challenges a hotshot local high school team, his team comes back to win in a rematch. Cliché city, with Robert Conrad mostly being angry. Not quite as bad as the worst IMDB user reviews, it’s still mostly a rehash of a rehash of a done-to-death plot… Decent print, no special virtues. $0.50.

Wake Me Up When the War’s Over, 1969, color, Gene Nelson (dir.), Ken Berry, Eva Gabor, Werner Klemperer, Hans Conried, Jim Backus, Danielle De Metz. 1:14.

This one’s a charmer. Berry’s an American officer who falls out of a plane (he’s supposed to be throwing out propaganda leaflets) over German-occupied territory. He lands in a young widow Baroness’s (Gabor) estate. She hides him and takes advantage of the situation (ahem)…and continues to hide him for five years after the end of World War II, hiring local ex-Nazis to come once a week and tromp around looking for him. When he finally escapes, still not knowing the war’s over (and, after five years, not speaking a word of German), he causes a certain amount of havoc before, of course, Everything Turns Out Fine. Fluff, but well-done fluff, with a first-rate TV-level cast. $1.25.

Katherine, 1975, color, Jeremy Kagan (dir.), Sissy Spacek, Art Carney, Henry Winkler, Julie Kavner, Jane Wyatt. 1:37.

Apparently based on the life of Diana Oughton, an upper-middle-class young woman turned Weatherman. Portions are characters talking directly to the audience about their motivations; the rest is Spacek going from Peace Corps-style reformer to agitator to underground Weathermen-style radical. Carney and Wyatt play her wealthy parents. Winkler, in the most sinister role I’ve seen, plays her revolutionary lover. Everything most definitely does not turn out fine. Good songs from the period. So-so print and sound quality. Well acted for the most part, dramatic, could work as a modest theatrical picture (with a big cast); I’d give it a higher price if the transfer quality was better. $1.

The Ballad of Andy Crocker, 1969, color, George McGowan (dir.), Lee Majors, Joey Heatherton, Jimmy Dean, Bobby Hatfield, Marvin Gaye, Agnes Moorehead, Pat Hingle. 1:14 [Jacket time 1:30].

With a cast like that, how can you go wrong? Turns out it’s easy when there’s no worthwhile plot and the hero loses our sympathy ten minutes into the movie. Majors, a grade-school dropout from Texas who lives for racing motorcycles on weekends and repairing them during the week, gets injured just enough in Vietnam to come home with a medal. First night out in LA, a hippie chick takes him to a pad shared by several couples. They don’t spit on him or anything like that, but eventually make it clear that he’d be better off elsewhere. So the vet—the apparent hero of this story—steals a motorcycle from one of the hippies and drives home to Texas, where he finds that everything’s a mess. His girlfriend’s married (and pregnant, but still Joey Heatherton using the talents for which she’s best known). His motorcycle/race track “business” (co-owned with Jimmy Dean) is in ruins (and Dean winds up selling it out from under him). His farmer father (Hingle) is reduced to driving trucks. Marvin Gaye’s in there somewhere, as an Army buddy now in Oakland, maybe in five minutes of the flick. Lots of good old boys offer help, but the vet’s only interest is reviving that worthless business. The vet winds up beating up his partner, trashing the stolen cycle after a long chase with cops, somehow getting to Oakland…and the movie ends with him waiting for the Army recruitment office to open. What a waste of talented players. Generally good video and sound quality. $0.50.

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