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film criticism of Larry Schiller’s THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG, by Gene Gregorits



Taking a second look at crimesploitation literature in film

review by Gene Gregorits

Re-watched that weasel Larry Schiller’s adaptation of that bozo Norman Mailer’s THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG.

It’s actually a great film, I think, far better than I ever realized. The remarkably faithful location shooting is really key to the film’s overall power (Utah is in so many ways the main character of this story) but Tommy Lee Jones’ Gilmore is hard as hell to shake, and Rosanna Arquette as his welfare witch lover Nicole Baker is better here than in most subsequent roles. She’s also frequently nude which helps the film’s pacing. Christine Lahti does a good job of humanizing Gilmore (while Jones himself renders the killer in a brave manner that doesn’t engender any undue sympathy) while reminding us all of her naturalistic sex appeal (she is braless throughout). I was very happy to re-discover a lovely 20 year old Jenny Wright, appearing briefly as Arquette’s schizophrenic sister April.

I get the feeling it was made in a hurry, but there are some very special moments in Schiller’s film. It’s the kind of story nobody really cares about anymore, and an honest film that certainly wouldn’t turn too many heads today. That’s really a shame.

[This is a repost, originally posted on Gregoritis’ facebook page. ~Editor]

Tommy Lee Jones in The Executioner's Song.

Tommy Lee Jones in The Executioner’s Song.

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