Thursday, August 6, 2015

#1,816. High Rolling in a Hot Corvette (1977)

Directed By: Igor Auzins

Starring: Joseph Bottoms, Grigor Taylor, Wendy Hughes

Tag line: "They're Wild, Outrageous and Lovable!"

Trivia: Actress Judy Davis was still a drama student when she appeared in this picture

A ‘70s buddy comedy from Down Under, High Rolling in a Hot Corvette stars Joseph Bottoms as Tex, an American who, as the movie begins, is working for a traveling carnival. When he’s fired for having sex while on the job (with a pretty blonde played by Christine Amor), Tex convinces his good pal Alby (Grigor Taylor), a boxer, to join him on the open road. With Australia’s Gold Coast as their ultimate destination, the two amigos hitch a ride with Arnold (John Clayton), who drives a green corvette. At a roadside motel (where the three have stopped for the night), Arnold makes the mistake of sexually propositioning Alby, who proceeds to knock him cold. In a panic, Tex and Alby skip out on the unconscious Arnold, only to find a case filled with money, as well as a stash of marijuana, in the trunk of his corvette. So, Tex and Alby decide to live it up a little. Along the way, they befriend Lynn (Judy Davis), a 16-year-old hitchhiker; and hook up with a pair of lounge singers (Wendy Hughes and Sandy McGregor), all the while oblivious to the fact that Arnold and his “pals” are trying to track them down, anxious to recover what was stolen from them.

Notable nowadays for marking the screen debut of Judy Davis (two years later, she’d win a BAFTA Award for her performance in Gillian Armstrong’s My Brilliant Career), High Rolling in a Hot Corvette is a road movie that, figuratively speaking, never actually goes anywhere. The story is as light as they come, as are many of the situations the two leads get themselves into (a scene set in a nightclub, where Tex tries to impress the singers and is roughed up by a bouncer, is as close as the film gets to a dramatic moment). Almost as unremarkable as the story are the lead characters, neither of whom are as likable as they should be (in the final act, they attempt to pull off a robbery, and never once did I find myself rooting for them to succeed). Part of the problem stems from the performances: intended to be a free spirit, Joseph Bottoms’ Tex instead comes across as obnoxious, and Grigor Taylor’s Alby isn’t all that bright. But even this could have been overlooked had the pair been given something interesting to do.

High Rolling in a Hot Corvette isn’t all bad. Judy Davis (who was still in drama school when the movie was made) breathes life into the role of Lynn (the scenes with her are the film’s best), and the opening sequence, set in the carnival, gets things off to a promising start (I especially enjoyed the boxing match between Alby and one of the carnival’s customers). Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. An hour after High Rolling in a Hot Corvette ended, I was already starting to forget it.

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