Joe (1970) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's notes

Joe (1970) is a very dated story about the "generation gap" in the hippie era. Those who know the term and lived through the era will find a certain sense of nostalgia here, but will be struck by how much society has changed, and how much we ex flower children have changed as well.  Susan Sarandon plays the daughter of an upper-middle class family, but is in a relationship with a junkie/dealer. When her boyfriend causes her to end up in the hospital with an overdose, her father goes to get her things from the apartment and ends up accidently killing the junkie boyfriend.

A working class bigot and anti-youth man named Joe learns what the father did, and has nothing but respect for him for it. Sarandon sneaks out of the hospital when she learns her boyfriend is dead, then leaves home when she finds out how he died. I won't give away the ending, as it is supposed to be an ironic surprise, although most of you will predict it at least 20 minutes before it happens.

Once a good, if somewhat melodramatic commentary on the vast chasm between American generations in the late sixties and early seventies, it is now just a trip in the "way-back machine." Still, those who lived the era will see familiar sights, sounds and attitudes, and those who are merely curious get a pretty accurate if exaggerated look at the issues which caused the vast generation gap in that era.


DVD info from Amazon

  • no features
  • both a full screen version, and a widescreen anamorphic (16x9) version



Perhaps the single best thing about the film is breast exposure and a hint of pubes from a 24 year old and very naked Susan Sarandon.

Two bit players, Fran Middleton, and Max Couper show breasts and buns during a hippie orgy.

Scoop's notes

I agree 100% with what Tuna has said. Badly dated film with only historical value. Viewed in retrospect, its greatest contribution was to make Peter Boyle a star, and he did deliver a convincing performance, although many of the supporting actors in the film seem to be amateurs recruited off the streets. (Hey, in those days that was considered sincere. Anything too slick was suspect.) You'd never know that this was once a popular, high-grossing film because it seems to our current sensibilities like an art film, or even an underground film. It's especially difficult to watch because nobody in it is remotely likeable. Since the unappealing characters keep one from getting involved, the non-professional performances break down the fourth wall, and the pace is glacial, this film offers a deadly lack of entertainment.

The worst thing about the film is that it is no-sided. Unlike many poor films of that time, which were poor because they pitted complex characters against simple characters, depending on which side they agreed with, this film is unbiased. It hates everyone. It actually manages to present an exaggerated, jaded, one-dimensional look at both sides of the generational conflict. The two older guys, Joe and the father, are as bad as can be. Joe is a foul-mouthed, uneducated, murderous racist, and the dad is a cynical corporate greedhead. On the other hand, the youth are equally unappealing. They are disrespectful, inconsiderate, and doped-up on dangerous drugs. When they are not selling heroin to children, they are babbling some mindless blather about macrobiotics. Based on this movie, you could only conclude that everyone was evil and stupid on both sides in the culture war of the late sixties. Well, I guess there's a core of truth to that. There certainly was evil to be found on both sides of the chasm, and such people as pictured here did exist, but throwing them all together as if they were universal characters, and offering no sensible characters for balance - well, that was just melodramatic hogwash. This film is simply a sensationalized, unbalanced, and wildly exaggerated look at the times.

As Tuna noted, the surprise ending, once considered shocking, was obvious. At that point, it was the only possible ending. I do give the filmmakers credit, however, for having the guts to end the film for good where it should have ended, rather than dragging it on with further discussions or police investigations or other forms of anticlimax.

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • It grossed $19 million, making it a substantial hit in 1970 dollars.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+ (Tuna) to C- (Scoopy)

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