Paramount // 1978 // 108 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // July 19th, 2002
There's gold in them there hills!
Henry Moon (Jack Nicholson, Batman, As Good As It Gets) is an outlaw and a scoundrel...and he's about to be hung! After being caught past the Mexican boarder (thinking he's free, Henry taunts his pursuers who ride over and grab him anyway), Moon is saved by the virginal Julia Tate (Mary Steenburgen, hand picked for her first role by Nicholson) who wants to marry him (the law says that any man may be saved from a hanging if a local wants him as a husband). At first the "lovers" are on rocky ground -- this may be due in part to the fact that she doesn't want to sleep with him and has only acquired Henry for his muscles on her farm. Apparently Julia believes that her mine shaft is filled with gold, only she's never seen it -- but with Moon's help that's all about to change! Let the gold rush -- and love rush -- begin!
Goin' South is neither here nor there -- it's a simple little movie that doesn't really stand up very well as a western nor as a romantic comedy. The story is barely hanging by a thread; an outlaw is saved from a hanging by a local townswoman, is used for mining gold, and the two must learn to live and love together. Those looking for a cute romance will be disappointed; those hoping for some hard hitting cowboy action will be annoyed. The saving grace is Nicholson (who also served as director) in typical whacked out fashion -- even the most mundane of dialogue comes off engaging and weird from his reptilian lips. The film is also notable for a number of other reasons, mainly the cinematic debut of Steenburgen and the late Saturday Night Live alumni John Belushi in his first role as an Hispanic deputy. Other famous faces include Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future) as a grizzled policeman, plus Tracy Walter (Nicholson's sidekick in Batman) and Danny DeVito (The War Of The Roses) as outlaw gang members on the hunt for Moon and Julia's gold. While the screenplay (credited to no less than four writers!) is often lazy and bland, the manic performance of Nicholson and the rest of the supporting cast make this a curiosity piece that's worth at the very least a rental. Otherwise, the title Goin' South ends up being very prophetic.
Goin' South is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The image quality on this disc is middle-of-the-road -- while most of the colors and black levels appear sharp and even, many instances of grain or picture softness pop up from time to time. While this transfer is nothing to write home about, it does the job just fine for the film it's supporting. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital Mono and is, not surprisingly, flat and mediocre. The dialogue, effects, and music are all free of any excessive hiss or distortion, so I guess we can consider that a silver lining. Otherwise, don't expect much out of this mix. Also included on this disc are English subtitles. Much to my dismay I am the bearer of bad tidings: Paramount has made the decision not to include even a single solitary supplement on this disc. I can understand not being able to drum up with a special edition, but not even one measly theatrical trailer? I feel a posse coming Paramount's way...
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Release Year: 1978
MPAA Rating: Rated R