Farmgirls and hitmen
It could be interpreted as an existential parable concerning a lost soul searching for inner peace, or a pleasant reminder of when movies — even action movies — moved at a casual pace with fully rounded scenes and professionally composed shots instead of frantic jump cuts and blinding image snaps, those inane gimmicks any good filmmaker should outgrow by sophomore year in film school… but which have recently, and most regrettably, become de rigueur.
Malone’s plot is simple: stalled in a jerkwater town with his car under repair, gunman Burt (sporting a weighty tar-helmet toupee) ferrets out a sleeper cell of conservative fascists led by laconic Cliff Robertson, fighting to protect their purity of essence from non-whites and liberals. Filmed during Burt’s Lauren Hutton phase (the gap-toothed beauty plays a kindhearted assassin), Malone’s platonic love interest is Cynthia Gibb as the jailbait daughter of local grease monkey Scott Wilson. The wholesome tomboy falls for Burt and, unless I was imagining things, so does her crippled, misty-eyed dad, humbly hobbling about on his long, hard, phallic cane.
Essentially a variation on Shane and a dozen samurai films, Malone is based on the novel Shotgun by William P. Wengate. Christopher Frank adapted the screenplay for director Harley Cokliss, with Rudy Wurlitzer allegedly helping out on the script without credit. Mr. Cokliss’s career fails to inspire, but props to Mr. Frank for writing and directing the softcore wonder, L'année des méduses (1984). As for Rudy, the world waits with bated breath for the arrival of Candy Mountain on DVD.
I don’t know who to credit for Malone’s one odd, prophetic element, the use of a prehistoric internet for the invasion of North America. In the catacombs ‘neath Cliff Robertson’s sprawling ranch is a nerve center, PCs lining the walls, each connected to terror cells across the continent. When Cliff says, “I’m online,” the words went out to an audience blind to their meaning, still several years shy of the Information Superhighway.