Thursday, September 11, 2014

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! SOUL HUSTLER starring Fabian Forte, Casey Kasem, Tony Russel and Nai Bonet (1973)

Well, if Frankie Avalon could milk an acting career for all it was worth well into the seventies (and beyond), why not Fabian? Yes, the Hound Dog Man himself pops up as a hippydippy ne'er-do-well in this early-seventies crankout drama, driving along the Californian environs in one of those old panel vans that haven't been made in years looking a whole lot looser than he did back when he was cranking out those "Boys of Bandstand" teen hits that's for sure.

After getting busted at a revival meeting (Fabian hands the crowd a sob story about being robbed of his wallet the night before then unconsciously pulls it outta his pocket when presenting the local gendarme with his driver's license!), Fabian is bailed out by the preacher himself who lets him in on the biggest scam to lay a whole lot more bread on 'em 'n the time the Schweibel's bakery exploded.

And the preacher's evil plan actually works! Soon Fabian is dressed up in a white robe calling himself Matthew, Son Of Jesus and is wowin' the crowd with his early-seventies singer/songwriter schmooze while everybody's raking in the cash in one of the biggest religioso blitzes seen since Aimee Semple McPherson. Naturally (I mean, what else) Fabian's still leading one o' them naughty lives behind the scene, hot for the tramp trade wherever he goes while his junkie Vietnam vet buddy scores heroin for him all the while presenting the Mr. Clean Jesus Freak image to the adoring populace who wouldn't guess in a millyun years that their substitute savior was acting like an even bigger hippie 'n alla those scuzzballs you used to see pull up in a Volkswagen camper buying cheap wine at the local stop 'n rob.

Kinda like an updated version of THE WORLD'S GREATEST SINNER for the seventies, SOUL HUSTLER just ain't as good as that legendary exploito what with its more laid back '72 SoCal feeling that makes you wanna blow up a granola factory not forgetting quite a few loose ends (such as the whys and wherefores regarding the death of one of Fabian's Great Danes) that just don't get tied up leaving you to go "wha???" Not only that but the introspective music only reminds me of why the Stooges and Alice Cooper were oh so needed during those decidedly energy-starved days when it seemed as if many teenagers were eating their 12-string guitars for roughage as Flo and Eddie once said. But still it's entertaining enough perhaps thanks to the b-movie acting and general low-budget feel which always was one of the better assets of these funtime crankout features.

In fact Fabian is pretty boffo in the lead (makes me wish he had stuck around doing these drive in films 'stead of popping up in disco mooms a few years later) while Tony Russel as the devious career-guiding preacher who takes him in is also top notch even if the guy tends to look like one of the Gardner brothers from the old Mothers of Invention. Larry Bishop as the doomed vet is perfect for the part even if you think the guy's dreaming "God I gotta get a best supporting actor nomination" during his big emotional scene, and dee-jay bigwig Casey Kasem as the sleazy PR man is...well...about as real life biz as they come. Special note should go to Nai Bonet as Helena, a particularly hot dish who actually worms her way into Fabian's lust-filled heart and kinda makes you wish they woulda made this 'un an "R" 'stead of a "PG" ifyaknowaddamean...

Without spoiling things for those who actually do want to see this movie despite the tepid review I will say that SOUL HUSTLER does have one of them endings that kinda makes you go "hunh?" because it happens so fast, but naturally I ain't gonna ruin it for you by getting into any great detail ene though I get the feeling that few of you are interested in seeing this film  due to the religious subject matter. But you might be shocked, saddened, or even go "wha' th'" when you get to that point in the flicker. Maybe it was deigned to be that way, or as some would say maybe they just ran outta money but anyway this is one I think just might suit you on one of those muggy summer nights if you put your tee-vee in the back yard and pretend you're at the drive in, only don't let the neighbors catch what you're doin' in light of the fact you don't have a gurl wit'cha, right (I know, old habits are hard to break)?!?!?

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