Wealthy businessman Bill Compton (Dennis Patrick), confronts the drug dealing hippie boyfriend of his junkie daughter Melissa (Susan Sarandon); in the ensuing argument, Bill kills him. Panic-stricken, he ends up at a bar, where he runs into a drunken factory worker Joe (Peter Boyle), who hates hippies, blacks, and anyone who is different, and would like to kill one himself. The two start talking, and Bill inadvertently reveals his secret to Joe. When Joe hears of the hippie's murder three days later, he puts two and two together and tracks the wary Bill down and they start up an unusual relationship: the factory worker and the well off executive. Joe even invites the Compton's for an uneasy dinner. And when Melissa runs away, they search for her in the psychedelic world they both despise, setting in train a shocking and tragic chain of events.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar, Norman Wexler's script is a slightly contrived but still valid examination of American society at the time of great change: the move from the 60s to the 70s. Of course, it was written within that time frame, while we are now looking backwards at it, over 30 years later. This gives the film an eerie tone, as it puts a working class joe, Joe (Peter Boyle) and a well heeled ad executive, Bill (Dennis Patrick) into a situation where the latter is dependent on the former. That part of the script equation gives the film its dramatic tension.
Where the film takes on the social mores is with the contrast of the young hippies, represented and including Bill's daughter Melissa (Susan Sarandon in her screen debut), and the older generation. Here, both Joe and Bill share alienation from them, but in vastly different ways. And it is in the corruption of Bill's standard moral codes by Joe's deeply ingrained prejudices and lack of tolerance that the film takes us on a special journey.
Peter Boyle is sensational in the role, a seething mass of hatreds barely concealed, whose behaviour towards everyone, including his wife (K. Callan) is equally poisonous. Dennis Patrick doesn't quite deliver the moral ruiniation we witness with 100% credibility, but Sarandon is superb in this debut as a teenager whose world is ripped apart, with her family on one side, her peers on the other.
Gripping and tragic, Joe is a powerful essay on US society and the generation gap - and more.
Published November 27, 2008
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JOE: DVD (R)
CAST: Susan Sarandon, Peter Boyle, Dennis Patrick, Audrey Caire, K. Callan, Patrick McDermott
PRODUCER: David Gil
DIRECTOR: John G. Avildsen
SCRIPT: Norman Wexler
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John G. Avildsen
EDITOR: George T. Norris
MUSIC: Bobby Scott
RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes
PRESENTATION: 4:3 (1.33:1 original); DD 2.0
SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailer [English, French, Spanish subtitles]
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Shock
DVD RELEASE: October 5, 2008