When You Comin\’ Back, Red Ryder? Film Details
Overview: Marjoe Gortner plays a drug dealer whose car breaks down in a small U.S. town. In turn, the town’s people become victim to his unique brand of physical and mental torture.
Review: I recently paid up on eBay to purchase this film after my interest was piqued by what I read on the web and IMDB. I had stumbled across it during a search for pictures of Candy Clark that didn’t quite pay off, but that’s another story… I liked this film. I’m glad I watched it. It isn’t easily “recommended” because it isn’t exactly “pleasant” or “fun”, but I think it’s worth seeing for the subject matter and message. After the fact, I no longer agree that the first half-hour was bad. It might have unfolded slowly, but I relished the vignettes on the night before the action started. I then realized that the characterizations trotted out, which seemed one-dimensional at first, were actually comments on the lives that these people were dealt (Angel, Red, Red’s mom) or themselves pursued (the Ethridges). I think it set up the understanding of who these people were and how they would react to the goings-on in the diner. I found Teddy’s initial discourse, when he’s warming up and testing the crowd, to be more rewarding than the showy exposition that developed afterwards. Still, it was the latter part that forced the gang to face (what *Teddy believed* were) their weaknesses and failings. For Angel, Red and Lyle it was the first time they had been brought to their attention. It was clear, though, that the Ethridges knew exactly what Teddy was talking about. This dichotomy drove my opinion about what the film’s message is. (Spoiler Alert) What I found most interesting is that, as intelligent as Teddy is portrayed to be (rage notwithstanding), he gets it dead wrong on Angel, Red, and Lyle. I believe this is the point of the film. When Teddy finally turns upon Angel in the simple terms she can understand, his comments are certainly cruel and “revealing” of things she never considered or talked about — but his points are not character failings. He calls her fat. So what? It runs in her family, she is neither in denial nor sad because of it, and it does not bother her or inhibit her self-awareness. Is she “too sweet” for him? Is she wrong for being genuinely nice to people in a place where – until Teddy showed up — the ugliness of the “real world” hadn’t tarnished everyone’s view of it? Should she distrust others more? He’s off base. There’s nothing wrong with how she lives her life, other than that (he thinks) she hasn’t reached high enough. If she hasn’t, it’s because she doesn’t really know what’s out there, but she’s giving it her best shot here. Next, Red is clearly Teddy’s main target. He’s the first to flash an attitude when Teddy enters the diner, but that’s the same look he shows everyone. More important is that Teddy doesn’t think Red’s rebel act is justified by having suffered the pains of the “real world” first-hand. So Red has a tattoo that Teddy thinks he hasn’t earned? What would make Red’s persona “legitimate” — going to Vietnam and coming back a psychotic killer? Is that `better’? Another thing about Red is that, of all the characters, he knows his future lies somewhere outside of town, and he knows it may be difficult or even impossible to pursue it. But he’s realistic and responsible about it — he wants to replace his mother’s car before he can leave, and (until the events in the diner) he doesn’t want the assistance that Lyle offers in that regard. He’ll do it all himself, even if he doesn’t know quite how. He might not have the answers, but he’s asking the questions, so is he really such a failure? (Even Lyle might not look like he’s got a lot left in the tank, but he still manages to successfully direct the confused girlfriend away from Teddy, and he rigs the VW to break down just outside of town.) Meanwhile, the outlook for the Ethridges is uncertain. They are going home to their young child, but are they willing to jettison the superficial routine that consists of his management of her music career? Will they decide whether something really exists between them or not? Difficult to say, but not by accident is their future least clear — of the main players, they are the only ones who *knowingly* live a lie. I believe this is why they have the least reward awaiting them after having been forced to face their reality. This is the irony of the film. Teddy seems to be the worst nightmare for these people, an unstoppable force who knows what’s wrong with their lives and punishes them for it. Then it becomes clear that his assault has only served to motivate the dreamers, the ones who wanted more (whether they knew it or not), to try to improve their lives. They have nothing but upside. The ones who knew the truth but didn’t care to improve don’t get quite the rosy outlook — they disappear. Much credit goes to the lead actors who agreed to play in this film, because they either understood or came to understand what the meaning of the movie would be. It sure as hell wasn’t because they thought it was going to land them that Oscar. And if Gortner, as producer, was the driving force behind the film’s creation, then he gets props as well because he had to realize there wouldn’t be measurable upside from it, only a lesson that he wanted to tell. Thanks for reading my take on the film. I hope you found it of interest. See also the “message forum” for a question I have about one part of the flick; perhaps you wondered about it as well.
Duration: 118 min
Also known as: O Dia Sem Esperança,Red Ryder, född död,When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?,La venganza de Red Ryder,I epistrofi tou Red Ryder,Milloin palaat, Red Ryder?