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FORTY DEUCE (1982).

Anyone mourning the demise of grimy 42nd Street will want to check out this ragged slice-of-lowlife, directed by Warhol-survivor Paul Morrissey (TRASH, WOMEN IN REVOLT). Based on the Off-Off-Broadway play by Alan Bowne, it embraces the world of teenage male hustlers, who work the streets off Times Square with offers of "coke, speed, cock." And while extremely talky, Morrissey expertly captures NYC just as I first learned to love it -- pocked with seedy porno theatres, graffitied subway cars and shithole apartments. A pre-DINER, 23-year-old Kevin Bacon recreates his Obie-winning role of Rickey, a greasy-haired, burnt-out, dealer/junkie who enjoys passing out in the Port Authority Mens' Room. When he's not nodding off, his mouth doesn't stop, with some of the raunchiest, racist dialogue imaginable. (It makes you wish Bacon had reprised this character in FOOTLOOSE. Now that would've been a movie!) Aided by slow-witted pals Crank (Tommy Citera), Blow (Mark Keyloun) and Mitchell (Esai Morales), and with Augie the pimp (Harris Laskawy) keeping his kids in line, the script is fueled with hilarious, but surprisingly real moments -- such as when one whiz-kid tries to take a simple subway ride from 42nd Street to a Chelsea clinic, only to get his crab-infested ass lost. Events turn heavy when a dead, naked 12-year-old runaway turns up in Augie's bed, with Rickey coming up with an idiotic plan to make a buck, by convincing a wealthy john that he accidentally killed the kid. Although top-billed, Orson Bean only appears in the second half (which inexplicably switches to split-screen!) as Mr. Roper, a well-to-do homo-pedophile. Rickey tries to convince Roper to buttfuck this 'sleepy runaway', but first gets him so stoned that he doesn't realize the boy is dead. Eventually, Roper freaks out and ends up hiding under the bed; and it's terrific to see '70s game-show-regular Bean going off the deep end. The performers, who all look the part, are a mixed bag (almost as if Morrissey hired 'em straight off the street). Meanwhile, the combined IQ of Augie & his boys equals that of a White Castle grill chef; and unbelievably, these characters are even less redeeming than those in Morrissey's Warhol flicks. Containing too many digressions and dull patches to be a great film, it still sports several solid performances, colorful monologues, a believable stench of the city, and some gutsy experimental moves (particularly that lovably gratuitous, split-screen second act).

© 1999 by Steven Puchalski.