Framed (1975)

Genres - Action, Adventure, Crime, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Drama, Melodrama  |   Run Time - 106 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - R
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This reunion of the core creative team behind Walking Tall offers up another sweaty, brutal tale of vice and revenge in the South. Mort Briskin's script grounds its twisty storyline with familiar crime-movie characterizations and some fun, convincing trash-talk dialogue. Despite the story's length and expansiveness, it moves at a solid clip that is punctuated by some often startling scenes of action. Joe Don Baker anchors the film with a stoic, determined performance as the wronged hero: his rough-hewn, physical style of acting might lack the charm of a conventional leading man but it's perfect for this film's dark, unsentimental take on the crime genre. His work is supported by a strong cast of character actors:John Marley offers a commanding presence as a mobster who befriends Baker, Gabriel Dell is a fast-talking delight as the inmate who becomes the hero's partner in revenge and Brock Peters provides a likeable straight-arrow presence as the film's only sympathetic law enforcement character. In terms of villains, Warren Kemmerling is appropriately sleazy as the sheriff-turned-mayor who sets the frame-up in action and Joshua Bryant steals a few moments as slick, morality-free lawyer who works with the mayor. However, the most important element of Framed is Phil Karlson's punchy direction: he keeps the narrative focused, the atmosphere intense and the action brutal (even by modern standards, a few of the fight scenes are brutal enough to make today's viewers squirm). Some might consider the film's storyline simplistic in its portrayal of corruption but Karlson is savvy enough to understand that it is a morality play writ large and gives it the aggressive, no-nonsense approach it needs. In short, Framed is one of Baker's best starring vehicles after Walking Tall and a must for anyone who likes their crime films mean and hard-hitting.