Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Ernest Pintoff--jazz trumpeter, painter, animated cartoonist, film theorist--directed his first dramatic feature, Harvey Middleman, Fireman, in 1965. Since that time, Pintoff has refused to be stylistically pigeonholed, turning out everything from comedy concerts (Dynamite Chicken) to spoofish T&A exploitation (Lunch Wagon Girls). St. Helens takes Pintoff into the realm of docudrama, using film clips of the May 18, 1980 eruption of the eponymous volcano to lend credibility to his dramatic re-enactments. Art Carney plays Harry Truman--not the President, but a real-life stubborn old codger who refused to leave his St. Helen's vacation cabin despite the oncoming natural disaster. Carney brings so much vitality to the proceedings that it seems a shame Pintoff couldn't alter the facts and provide Truman with a happy ending. Appearing fleetingly in St. Helen's are Ron "Superfly" O'Neal, Albert Salmi and Nehemiah Persoff.
eruption, geology, reporter, volcano, evacuation, police, racism