Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry
Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Hough Produced by Norman T. Herman Screenplay by Leigh Chapman
Based on Pursuit by
Starring Peter Fonda
Cinematography Michael D. Margulies Editing by Christopher Holmes Studio Academy Pictures Corporation Distributed by 20th Century Fox Release date(s) May 17, 1974 Running time 93 minutes Country United States Language English Budget $1,140,000 Box office $12,100,000 (US rentals)
Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry is a cult 1974 car chase film starring Peter Fonda, Susan George, Adam Roarke, and Vic Morrow. The film was directed by John Hough. The music score contains no incidental music, apart from the theme song over the opening and closing titles, and a small amount of music heard over the radio.
Two NASCAR hopefuls, driver Larry (Peter Fonda) and his mechanic Deke (Adam Roarke), successfully execute a supermarket heist to finance their jump into the big-time auto racing. They extort $150,000 cash from a supermarket manager (Roddy McDowall in an uncredited role) by holding his wife and daughter hostage.
In making their escape they are confronted by Larry's one-night stand, Mary (Susan George). She convinces them to take her along for the ride in their souped-up Dodge Charger under the threat of informing on them. The Sheriff, Captain Franklin (Vic Morrow), obsessively pursues the trio in a dragnet, only to find his patrol cars unable to catch Larry, Mary and Deke after they switch from the Impala to a high-performance 1969 440 Dodge Charger R/T.
Their vehicle then enters a large walnut grove, which provides significant cover from all of the trees, and because of the many roads running through the farm, "60 different exits". The trio evades several patrol cars, a high-performance police interceptor, and even Captain Franklin himself in a Bell JetRanger helicopter. Nearing the border and imagining a smooth escape, Larry, Mary, and Deke meet their doom when they collide with a freight train.
- Peter Fonda as Lawrence 'Larry' Rayder
- Susan George as Mary Coombs
- Adam Roarke as Deke Sommers
- Vic Morrow as Capt. Everett Franklin
- Kenneth Tobey as Sheriff Carl Donahue
- Roddy McDowall as George Stanton
- Lynn Borden as Evelyn Stanton
- Adrianne Herman as Cindy Stanton
- James W. Gavin as Helicopter Pilot
Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry is based on the novel originally titled The Chase (later renamed Pursuit) by Richard Unekis, and published in 1963. The story incorporated a phenomenon that was relatively new in 1963: major auto manufacturers were putting powerful V-8 engines into mid-sized cars (the dawn of the "muscle car" era), and young thieves behind the wheel of these cars were now able to outrun the economy 6-cylinder sedans driven by police in many jurisdictions. The protagonists of The Chase used such a vehicle, a Chevrolet, and made use of the checkerboard of roads in the farm country of Illinois to outrun the police.
According to Unekis' son, the rights to the obscure book were originally bought for very little money by director Howard Hawks, who had Steve McQueen in mind for the title role of a future film project. Hawks commissioned three scripts, all of which followed the book very closely (and consequently were out of date with the automobile technology of the 1970s), but Hawks elected to opt out of the project when he was offered US$50,000 for the film rights by two wealthy English industrialist partners, Sir James Hanson and Sir Gordon White. White and Hanson (who, at the time, owned Eveready Batteries and Ballpark Franks), had purchased the book to read on their plane while flying to the U.S. They both felt The Chase would make an entertaining film, and presented the idea to personal friend Michael Pearson, who had produced an earlier successful car chase cult movie Vanishing Point.
After pitching their project to their movie mogul friends, who not only included Pearson but Albert R. Broccoli, Harold Robbins and Sam Spiegel, they soon discovered the movie business was not as easy as they had suspected. In addition, they were saddled with an out of date book with little literary value except for a car chase - and no screenplay - for which they grossly overpaid. With no interest from anyone in picking up the project, Sir James and Sir Gordon soon lost interest in making movies.
Over dinner one evening at Hanson's estate in Palm Springs, California they told their plight to friend and neighbor Jimmy Boyd. Boyd read the book and agreed with Hanson and White that it would make a great car chase. Boyd, a race car enthusiast, had successfully built and raced cars along with his friend Lance Reventlow, and had come very close to pursuing race car driving as a career. He guaranteed Hanson and White their fifty thousand dollars in return for the rights to the book. Boyd wrote the screenplay himself, including what passed for "modern" dialogue and humor in the early 1970s, along the lines of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He also changed the two main characters from the escaped convicts in the book, into a slightly larcenous - but likable - NASCAR dreamer and his Mechanic, nicknamed Fast Floyd and Dirty Deke. Boyd then incorporated the one-night stand female stowaway, and the added dimension of a NASCAR-engined getaway car capable of 165 miles per hour (266 km/h). Except for the tires and wheels, it was a stock-appearing Ford built by the famous race car builders Traco Engineering. However, 440 Magnum Dodge Chargers with stock bodywork were used in the movie after Boyd's departure.
Boyd's script also added the critical plot twist of the police captain in the helicopter making up units that didn't exist on the scanner to trap the thieves, and the version of the wreck at the end of the movie (from a semi-truck on the highway to the surprise collision with a freight train).
On the strength of his script, Boyd had raised two million dollars for the budget (a big budget at the time). Boyd had two young, then-unknown actors, David Soul and Sam Elliott, in mind for the lead roles, when he got a phone call from James Nicholson, president and partner of Sam Arkoff at American International Pictures, a major producer of "B Movies." Nicholson was leaving AIP to form his own company, Academy Pictures, in partnership with Twentieth Century Fox: Fox would finance and distribute his films and give him complete control. Nicholson told Boyd he had read his script for Pursuit, and wanted it to be his first film for Academy Pictures. It was very risky making an "Indie" film in the 1970s without a distribution deal. Important film festivals like Sundance Film Festival did not exist. Boyd decided to enter into a partnership with Nicholson's Academy Pictures
Fox got Peter Fonda interested in the project, and Nicholson hired English director John Hough. Hough had directed a horror film for Nicholson at AIP, and could bring English actress Susan George into the mix, providing one of the male leads would be rewritten for her. It became quickly apparent that Nicholson and Boyd had two completely different philosophies of how the film should be made. Boyd wanted to make a realistic, exciting, humorous, helicopter-versus-car chase, something rarely seen in the early 1970s. Nicholson wasn't so much interested in the content of the movie, as he was in attaching recognizable names and catchy titles to market it. After a long series of legal battles over control and Nicholson's rewrites of the film, Boyd accepted a settlement offer and left the project.
Cameras rolled in the fall of 1973. The film was released, mainly to drive-in theaters, in May of the following year.
- ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0810842441. p257
- ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0810842441. p232
Films directed by John Hough 1970s 1980s 1990sSomething to Believe In (1998) 2000sBad Karma (2002)
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Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel: Kesse Mary – Irrer Larry Originaltitel: Dirty Mary Crazy Larry Produktionsland: USA Erscheinungsjahr: 1974 Länge: 93 Minuten Originalsprache: Englisch … Deutsch Wikipedia
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