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NORWOOD (1970).

What's that horrible stench? It's coming from this video! I'm always a sucker for dumb-ass studio flicks from the past, and this road movie has all of the proper elements, none of the necessary talent and a genuinely mind-numbing cast. What were the producers thinking?! Since this is based on a novel by Charles Portis, who also wrote TRUE GRIT -- which made a shitload of money -- I guess they decided to reunite that movie's least talented stars, Glen Campbell and Kim Darby. And just to make sure Glen wasn't the crappiest actor on board, they offered NY Jets quarterback Joe Namath his first screen role! Glen (who warbles several forgettable songs throughout) and "Broadway Joe" play happy-go-lucky Marines who're heading back to their hometowns after a tour of Vietnam. Campbell plays Norwood Pratt, whose only dream is to sing at the Louisiana Hayride. Yes, he's the film's hero, but Norwood is also a 100% "chucklehead," who'd seem slow on HEE HAW. When Norwood hits home, he's pissed off at his pudgy, shitbag brother-in-law (Dom DeLuise) and quickly decides to follow Namath to Manhattan. With guitar in hand, Norwood agrees to drive to Brooklyn for fast-talking businessman Pat Hingle, and is joined by Carol Lynley as a singer-wannabe named Yvonne. They argue through several states, but characters tend to come and go in this sad excuse for a script. When Norwood hits NYC, he runs into sexy philosophy major Tisha Sterling, who hauls him to a hilarious open-mike Village nightclub -- full of longhairs, candles and sitar music -- with this hick bumming out the bohemians with a happy, toe-tapping tune. As Norwood continues to tour the country, he picks up half-pint Billy Curtis (HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER) and a kidnapped "wonder chicken," and finally takes a shine to Kim Darby as a pregnant teenager. Thankfully, Namath vanishes for most of the movie, only to pop up in the last 1/2-hour, as Joe and girlfriend Meredith MacRae invite Norwood and his entourage for a down-home dinner. No surprise, after director Jack Haley Jr. proved he couldn't make a real movie, he settled for cobbling together old Tinseltown clips in fossil-fodder like THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT. At least the gals make this worth a look -- Lynley's in a low-cut outfit, Sterling slips into a black micro-dress, and McRae's in a bikini. Eccentric, but also insufferably sentimental, this is a disaster in every sense of the word. Mixing heartfelt romance, inane comedy, Campbell's AM-radio tunes, and teeth-gnashing stupidity, this is a movie that would have paying audiences pissing on the screen.

© 2001 by Steven Puchalski.