Catch My Soul (1974)

Genres - Drama, Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Rock Musical  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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If anyone ever doubts that the '70s were a strange decade for cinema, they have only to watch Catch My Soul to find verification. In a way, it's emblematic of the decade, which encouraged a remarkable freedom of expression from its filmmakers; sometimes this resulted in highly individualistic masterpieces; other times it created dreck like Soul. Mind you, a lot of that dreck is highly watchable, in a "what could they have been thinking" kind of way, and Soul more than fits that bill. Director Patrick McGoohan had been involved (as an actor) in an imaginative and successful updating of Othello into the '50s jazz world (All Night Long), so perhaps he thought lightning would strike twice in moving it to a gospel show in the Southwest. He was terribly wrong. The re-setting is ham-handed and ridiculous, and the mixture of direct quotes from the play with contemporary slang is laughable. Laughable also describes every dramatic performance, as do horrible and unbelievable. (That said, some of the musical performances, especially from Richie Havens and Tony Joe White are quite good, and much of the music is worth hearing -- preferably on a turntable or 8-track, removed from the movie.) McGoohan's direction is labored, at best. Still, Soul is undeniably fascinating, a train wreck of a movie that inspires awe and that makes one appreciate a time when awful movies could be so bad in such an interesting way.