Cinema: Rushes: Dec. 14, 1981

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DUCK YOU HEAD—LOWLA BRIDGIDA! reads the sign on a Grand Canal ponte, just before one of Friz Freleng's manic critters slams into the lintel at full frontal force. The warning applies also to those attending this compilation of old Warner Bros, cartoon shorts. Beware of low gags, supersonic mayhem, polka-dot undershorts and the occasional smack in the puss—Sylvester J. Pussycat, to be precise. There is much unfettered mirth here from the rest of the Warner menagerie: from Bugs, the Cagney of lagomorphs, who plays Galahad and slickshooter to the splenetic Yosemite Sam in two of the best shorts (Knighty Knight Bugs, Wild and Woolly Hare); from the hugely talented Daffy Duck as a reluctant egg layer (Golden Yeggs); from Granny, Tweety Pie and a sternutating dragon. Freleng is no match for the great cartoon directors, Chuck Jones (Road Runner) and Tex Avery (Droopy Dog). Still, there are more than enough in-spite-of-yourself laughs in these 80 minutes to guarantee a happy Saturday matinee.


Here is a rarity: a muckraking movie that was not made for TV. The subject of this Canadian melodrama is a religious cult like the Moonies, and Director R.L. Thomas' tone is about as judicious as Friz Freleng's. David (Nick Mancuso), depressed over a short-circuited affair, falls in with some "Heavenly Children" who presoak his brain with homilies and then scrub it clean of all hope, feeling, self. Although it has plenty of impact, Ticket is often too busy being outraged to bother with niceties of characterization and plot. (Just how does David become converted? At what point does he snap out of it?) And so it ignores the central dilemma: that kidnaping an adult, however pure the motive or dear the victim, is against the law. Like a strident TV-news exposé, Ticket aims for the jugular instead of the mind—Geraldo Rivera moviemaking.


Dusan Makavejev, the film maker who Went Too Far with his anarchist collages W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism and Sweet Movie, has run for cover to Sweden and emerged with this shaggy act of atonement. It is not his fault that he was seven years between pictures, or that his new one seems almost (Gasp!) normal in its story of yet one more mad housewife: Susan Anspach finds fear, loathing, debasement—in short, liberation—when she joins a carnal carnival of Slavic immigrants. Montenegro is a Laurel-and-Hardy jalopy of a film, putting along impudently and then suddenly stalling, out of everything but gall. In these timid days, gall may be enough, especially with Makavejev behind the camera and Anspach in front, giving one of the year's sweetest, smartest, sexiest performances.