Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974)

Genres - Action, Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Chase Movie  |   Release Date - May 17, 1974 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This fast-paced drive-in favorite is one of the more distinctive entries in the car-chase genre. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry differs from other car-chase fare like Smokey and the Bandit and The Gumball Rally because it is as much a heist movie as it is a car-chase adventure. Leigh Chapman and Antonio Santean's script gives the film a distinctly antiheroic flavor that makes it feel like a low-budget descendent of Bonnie and Clyde. Larry and Deke pull the supermarket heist that opens the film with cold-blooded efficiency and the attraction between Larry and Mary is as volatile as it is magnetic. The script is also notable for its odd yet thoroughly quotable dialogue; the exchanges between Mary and Larry are laden with creative epithets and the automotive shop-talk between Deke and Larry is full of gearhead jargon guaranteed to make viewers scratch their heads. John Hough's direction rises to the script's lean feel by keeping the pacing taut and maintaining a gripping sense of narrative tension from start to finish. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry also benefits from solid acting by a crew of genre professionals: Fonda's trademark ambivalence fits Larry perfectly, George brings a believable fieriness to Mary, and Roarke manages to be low key and intense all at once as Deke. These colorful leads are balanced by some effective supporting turns, the best being Vic Morrow as the grizzled but dedicated Franklin and an uncredited Roddy McDowall in a believably frazzled turn as the supermarket chief whose family gets ransomed. All in all, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry is a gritty but stylishly helmed B-movie that is worth the hunt for car-chase film fanatics.