Judge Patrick Naugle prefers to walk.
The starlet and the drifter, careening through the neon haunts of Vegas…the velvet traps of Hollywood…the Malibu parties…grabbing for the brass ring…the winning ticket…the sweet ride.
Welcome to life on Malibu Beach. It's the 1960s and a young tennis hustler, Collie (Tony Franciosa, A Face in the Crowd), spends his days hanging out with two friends: a hip-cat surfer named Denny (Michael Sarrazin, Sometimes a Great Notion) and Choo-Choo Burns, beatnik musician (Bob Denver, Gilligan's Island) who looks suspiciously like he's in need of a Skipper. One day a young woman named Vickie (Jacqueline Bisset, The Deep) washes up on shore, badly brusied and beaten. Where she came from and who she is (told in flashbacks) will change the lives of all three men as they learn that sometimes life itself is not a very "Sweet Ride."
The Sweet Ride is sort of like a Frankie and Annette beach movie, if you sucked all the fun out and inserted needless drama into the proceedings. It's an overly long, overly dramatic, and overly tepid movie that reeks of 1960s stink. Sometimes that's a good thing (most early James Bond movies have this same issue, but not to their detriment), and sometimes it's not. Case in point is The Sweet Ride, a movie so boring I fell asleep twice while watching it.
I was monumentally bored by The Sweet Ride. It has many problems, not the least of which is that director Harvey Hart (Dark Intruder) makes the entire concoction feel like a chintzy low-budget drama that was churned out rather quickly. I didn't connect to any of the characters' plights (even poor beaten Vickie) and just had little interest in how the movie would finally resolve all the drama between the characters. The whole endeavor feels like a rather tepid made-for-TV movie that never goes anywhere, with a screenplay (by Diamonds are Forever writer Tom Mankiewicz adapting William Murray's novel) that is DOA. There's a rape by a motorcycle gang, a woman being beaten by a Hollywood producer, and surfing. If I made any of that sound interesting, it's really, really not. The movie seemingly goes on forever, running almost two hours, which ends up being two hours too much.
The acting is rather bland throughout. The three main leads—Michael Sarrazin, Bob Denver, and Tony Francoisa—all give only so-so performances. After having seen Paul Newman's Sometimes a Great Notion not too long ago, I can safely inform you that Sarrazin has done far better work than The Sweet Ride. Francisa just comes off as too smug and privileged, which may have been the point (but it makes his character nonetheless drastically unlikable). As for Bob Denver…well, the guy is just far too wed to the title character from Gilligan's Island for me to see much else. As for the female lead in Jacqueline Bisset, the woman's acting skills are questionable but good gravy she sure does she look good in a bathing suit.
The Sweet Ride is presented in 1.33:1 full frame (even though it starts out as a deceptively non-anamorphic widescreen picture). The image quality is decent for a film this old; there are moments of imperfection or wear, but they're not terrible. Overall it's a decent transfer to a movie that doesn't really deserve it. The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono in English. This is a very front heavy mix that doesn't have much in the way of dynamic range or fidelity. The biggest boost is during singer Dusty Springfield's opening song "Sweet Ride." No alternate soundtracks or subtitles are included on this disc. There are no bonus features.
I realize my review of The Sweet Ride is short and…sweet (sorry for the pun). There's little to say except avoid this one like the plague. I've seen far worse, but why would you waste your time on forgettable 1960s tripe like this? Some fans may get a kick out of seeing the fashions and hearing the lingo of the day onscreen, but that's hardly enough to keep my attention.
This ride is anything but sweet.
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