Série noire (8)

By: Alix Lambert
November 8, 2016

One in a series of posts, by Alix Lambert, filmmaker and author of Crime: A Series of Extraordinary Interviews Exposing the World of Crime — Real and Imagined (2008), about eight crime movies that blew her mind as a young adult.



JOE (1970), directed by John G. Avildsen.

The 1970 film Joe stars Peter Boyle in a performance that embodies a strain of white male hatred and anger that almost 5 decades later is very much on display wherever you look.

Wealthy New York businessman Bill Compton (Dennis Patrick) and his wife Joan (Audrey Claire) learn that their daughter (Susan Sarandon) has overdosed on drugs. After visiting her in the hospital Bill goes to retrieve his daughter’s things and encounters her drug dealer boyfriend. They argue and Bill murders him.

Stopping in a bar to calm his nerves, Bill overhears Joe say: “Hippies, I’d like to kill one of them.”

“I just did,” Bill replies without thinking. He quickly dismisses the comment as a joke and the two men continue to talk, but when Joe sees the murder reported on TV he calls Bill up.

Joe tells Bill, “I could blackmail you.” Which is exactly what Bill fears, but then Joe goes on to say, “I just talk about it, you did it.” A veteran, Joe continues, “In the war when you kill someone you feel bad and you feel good at the same time.”

Joe is a minumum wage factory worker; Bill is an advertising executive. Fueled by the veiled threat of blackmail and grounded in shared hate, a friendship of sorts begins. Joe shows Bill his “well balanced collection” of guns including a submachine gun that he is “not supposed to have.”

Looking at a Nixon poster that says, “Would you buy a used car from this man?” Joe comments, “Look at that, the president of the United States. If you can’t buy a used car from him — who can you buy a used car from?”

Wen Melissa overhears her father talking about the murder, she runs off. Bill and Joe go looking for her. Their search leads them to a commune. A confrontation with the hippies there quickly escalates and Joe and Bill kill them all – Bill murdering his own daughter as she attempts to flee the grounds.

Joe audiences applauded the violence, and Boyle was offered other violent parts. He turned them down.


SÉRIE NOIRE SERIES: The Chalk Garden (1964) | I Confess (1952) | In the Heat of the Night (1967) | The Return of Martin Guerre (1982) | Wanda (1970) | Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) | The Bad Seed (1956) | Joe (1970).

MORE ALIX LAMBERT at HILOBROW: SÉRIE NOIRE series | GROK MY ENTHUSIASM: The Skies Belong To Us | HERMENAUTIC TAROT: The Eye Floater | MORE: including HILO HERO items on Patty Wagstaff, Nelson George, William Kentridge, Angela Davis, and Vito Acconci.

MORE MOVIES at HILOBROW: KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM: 25 neo-noirs of the Sixties (1964–1973) | James Parker’s BOURNE VARIATIONS series | Alix Lambert’s SÉRIE NOIRE series | Jacob Mikanowski’s SCREEN TIME series | Josh Glenn’s SHOCKING BLOCKING series | Joanne McNeil’s ALL MY STARS series | MORE: including dozens of HILO HERO items on movie directors and actors.