15 January 2016 | sol-
Unsure of where to go after wounding a vengeful local in baseball match and told to flee town, a Vietnam War veteran takes up with the mysterious young mistress of a produce farm owner in this little seen drama starring Ryan O'Neal in his first screen role. It is not the greatest debut for the Oscar nominated actor, but in what was only her second screen performance, Leigh Taylor-Young is excellent as the tantalising mistress. A femme fatale of the post-Production Code era, she plays a seductress like few others before her, revealing lots of skin and boldly parading around in the buff. She is just as effective with her clothes on too as there is an ambiguity as to whether or not she genuinely likes O'Neal or is just using him for a scheme revealed in the film's final third. That said, the scheme comes too late to provide much vigour, and easy as Taylor-Young is on the eyes, there is little else propelling the first hour. Van Heflin has a nice, understated turn as a justice of the peace, and Cindy Eilbacher is adorable, playing a surrogate daughter to O'Neal, but it is not enough to carry the film. The opportunities for more are all too apparent. Why not explore O'Neal's criminal background in further depth or how serving in Vietnam has affected him? Why not establish his desire for a daughter further? By all accounts though, the film was promoted as a vehicle for its two stars (married in real life at the time) and therefore it is easy to see why the filmmakers took a less exciting route. The film is not worthless as some of its dissenters might say, but it sure could have been a lot more.