Johnny Firecloud (1975) from Brainscan and Tuna

Brainscan's comments:

What is the most common theme in Hollywood movies? Not necessarily the central theme in all of them but one that appears most often in Hollywood productions.

Love, you say? Or maybe lust? I don't think so. There are, after all, entire genres with no love and no lust. Westerns, kiddie movies, high-minded dramas tend to have neither. Erotic thrillers have the latter, seldom the former. Romantic comedies take the opposite tack.

What, then, is the most common theme? Revenge. Every genre has oodles of examples, some are based almost entirely on revenge. Westerns would not exist if revenge were removed from them. In fact the very best revenge movies are Westerns. High Plains Drifter is my favorite. Cop movies, comedies, kid movies... all have revenge themes. Lethal Weapon 1-16? Revenge of the Nerds? Bambi? Even some of the best dramas are held together by the theme of revenge. Casablanca, for one. Or the quintessential high-minded revenge movie of all time... Shawshank Redemption. Everyone who crossed Andy Dufresne got it in the end... big time. Some were crippled for life, others reduced to the level they despised and the warden did his own self in. Ah, revenge so sweet.

What it boils down to is that American movies and, by gradual transferance, American people see most of life as a series of confrontations between villains, victims and heroes. Things don't work out the way you wanted? Must mean there is a villain somewhere, and you are the victim and all we need is a hero. A hero will save us. And he'll get us some revenge.

The difference then between a good movie of revenge and a bad movie of revenge is just how far out of their way did the movie makers go to "motivate" the hero. Andy Dufresne is motivated by acts you could understand committed by folk who were venal, not evil. That's a good revenge movie. Same with the Man With No Name in High Plains Drifter. Townspeople were cowards, let his brother get whipped to death, so he just sorta takes care of things.

Bad revenge movies have villains who are unnaturally evil commit acts without motive or context just so the hero can get good and pissed. Oh, and the audience, too. Gotta get the audience pissed so they feel oh so good when the villains get their comeupance.

Worst revenge movie I ever started to see was I Spit On Your Grave. Couldn't finish that crud. Second worst was Johnny Firecloud (1975).

This is a Billy Jack wannabe of a native American who confronts an unnaturally evil, unremittingly racist Anglo community. What they do to motivate our hero ranges from the humiliation to the lynching of a proud old man and the out-of-the-blue rape of a young teacher. The rape is particularly jarring because the teacher is an otherwise minor part of the story for whom no lustful or violent thoughts have been implied previously. The white guys just show up and do the rape thing.

So let me repeat that this is a Billy Jack wannabe. To aim high and miss carries with it some nobility. Godfather, part 3 aimed high... the first two Godfathers... and missed. Still, it is a fine enterprise. But to aim for Billy Jack and miss????!!! Shit, that's like aiming at a rat and shooting your dog.

I capped this festering boil on the buttocks of Hollywood because the woman who called herself Sacheen Littlefeather is in it. She is, in fact, the one raped. Sacheen was given the task of accepting Marlon Brando's Oscar lo those many years ago. She dressed in Native American garb and spoke of the injustices of white men toward her people. Stupid idea for such an important issue, compounded by the fact that Sacheen Littlefeather was not her real name and she was not a Native American. We call that an O-fer.

Sacheen, or whatever her real name was, went on to pose for the Hefmag with her God-given equipment still in place. In Johnny Firecloud we see some after-market additions, boobs that do not obey Newton's law of motion. And somewhere, somehow there is someone who thinks that is attractive?

A second character played by Christina Hart, has bed Johnny in by-gone days and looks to get into his pants by taking off her top. Ms. Hart looks mighty fine with a natural frame to gaze upon long and hard.... so to speak. Ms. Hart had a long career in TV and movies and starred in one of my favorite exploitation films, entitled The Games Girls Play. Nice looking woman.

Johnny Firecloud is what happens when a screenwriter and director who are not at the top of the game to begin with get lazy and try to copy a bad, painfully simplistic movie. Not improve upon... copy. They aimed for a rat. What they delivered was one dead dog.

Tuna's notes:

Johnny Firecloud (1975) is a David Friedman film, co-produced and directed by William Allen Castleman, and was the highest budget film ever to come from Friedman ($200k). It was an attempt to stay in the drive-in market after porn chased nudie-cuties out of the theaters. It is the story of a Vietnam veteran Indian who returns to his small home town, thinking he has earned "the right to live in the white man's world". He was hoping to continue his relationship with the man who controlled the town's daughter. What he finds is a town still thinking of him as a stinking Indian. The sheriff tries to harass him into leaving town. When his grandfather is hanged, and his childhood friend who teaches at the reservation school is raped and murdered, he "goes on the warpath". 

I found the plot rather predictable, and politically incorrect by today's standards, but watchable.

Scoop's notes:

I've never seen this film, but I've read about it many times. Why, you ask? This movie is famous, in a way, because it represents the only major nudity for that esteemed thespian, Sacheen Littlefeather. Sacheen's real name is Maria Cruz, and her only major acting gig before taking the stage on Oscar night was as Miss American Vampire in the traveling company that promoted Dan Curtis's movie based on the Dark Shadows TV show.

The thing that distinguished Maria/Sacheen from a zillion other grade-B actresses is that she was actually famous for 15 minutes. For a while there, everyone interested in movies knew her name, because she got to stand at the podium and make her famous defense of American Indian rights in front of the creme de la Hollywood creme. To tell you the truth, she made a dignified and simple statement, but most actors feel that Oscar Night isn't the right forum to discuss Wounded Knee, particularly since Brando was nominated for a film completely unrelated to the Indian rights issue. (The Godfather)


Christina Hart (The Stewardesses) shows her breasts in a flashback, and also in an interrupted sex scene.

Sacheen Littlefeather (The Trial of Billy Jack) also shows her breasts.

DVD info from Amazon.

This Something Weird Video release is typical of their work, with a decent Widescreen letterbox transfer, and commentary by Friedman, which is always a treat.

The academy awards get a lot of television exposure, and it was common throughout the 70's for presenters and awardees to use the podium as a pulpit. Comic Tim Allen had the best comment on this some years later when he presented an award, "I thought I'd take this opportunity on worldwide television to promote my personal political causes." Pause for effect. "Sadly, I have no personal political causes". The year that David Letterman hosted, the late night curmudgeon said "Please welcome Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. Pay attention. I'm sure they're pissed off about something"

The Critics Vote

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The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDB readers say 5.5 of 10
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.

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