Shitty Movie Sundays: Best Friends

Best Friends movie posterI knew nothing about this film when I began watching it. I found it on a YouTube channel that collects old grindhouse and drive-in movies that have fallen into the public domain. That copy was crap, but being in the public domain meant that the film could be found elsewhere. Amazon Prime has a much better quality copy, so should one actually want to seek out and watch this turd, I recommend doing so on Amazon.

Keeping in mind where I first found this film, while I had no clue what it was about, or who made it, or who was in it, I did make assumptions about the type of film it would be. Nestled in a playlist alongside such gems as The Brain Machine, Night of Bloody Horror, and Legacy of Blood, I was expecting violence in this flick. There is some. But, at heart, Best Friends is a character study.

From director Noel Nosseck and screenwriter Arnold Somkin, Best Friends tells the story of two best friends, Jesse and Pat (Richard Hatch and Doug Chapin), who have a falling out during a road trip. They are accompanied on the trip by Jesse’s fiancée, Kathy (Susanne Benton), and Pat’s fiancée, Jo Ella (Ann Noland). The trip is the start of a new life for all of them. Jesse and Susanne are getting married at the end of the trip, while Pat just returned from a tour in Vietnam, where he was wounded. There’s a lot swirling around under the surface with all the characters, and now they’ve been jammed together in an RV for a multi-day journey. That’s a recipe for drama.

And drama there is. Pat is slowly coming unglued. He doesn’t want to lose the freewheeling life that he and Jesse once shared. After failing to convince Jesse to abandon his fiancée and ride off into the sunset on a pair of motorcycles, he decides to sabotage not just Jesse’s relationship, but his own. Why he does so isn’t important. He’s just a damaged man.

Following this quartet from set piece to set piece as they travel across the American west does not make for the worst film. The ideas are intriguing, and there are even flashes of good acting from the cast. Chapin, especially, does a decent job of playing someone wound way too tight. He reminds me of that one friend in a group that desperately wants to be liked, but all the effort they put in just makes others pull away. He flubs a line here and there, but Pat is a nervous person to be around. How uncomfortable Chapin makes the viewer pays off in the final act.

The problem with this film is that while there are decent moments scattered throughout, for the most part it’s cheap and inept. Nosseck took every opportunity he could to stretch the running time. The result is a slow pace, which was much less of an issue in 1975, when this film was released, than it is today. It’s absurd to expect a filmmaker to take into account audience tastes decades into the future, but here we are in the future, and in the future, this film drags.

There’s not much to like about this flick, but there isn’t that much to hate, either. Should one begin to watch it and decide after ten minutes to skip to the last act, then one probably had the best experience in watching this film there could be. Alien: Resurrection is a much better movie than Best Friends.

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