The mythology is that Roger Corman existed outside the studio system and remained solidly independent. He wasn’t that nasty about dealing with the big studios. He just wouldn’t let them get the upperhand in the deals. He stuck to his principles and didn’t go overboard since he knew a studio wanted him for a good looking film with a seductively low budget. Fighting Mad & Moving Violation – Action-Packed Double Feature are two films he produced that were distributed by 20th Century Fox instead of his own New World. These two films have the similar theme of the little guy being the victim of energy tycoons.
Fighting Mad (1976 – 88 minutes) brings another entry of Peter Fonda’s era as the King of the Drive-in Cinemas. He’s a relatively peaceful single father returning to his small Arkansas hometown with his son. But things have changed. A big coal company has arrived eager to buy up the farms and stripmine the hills. Fonda’s family is in no mood to sell. They’re fighting in court to stop the explosions that endanger their way of life. The workers for the mining company are not welcome visitors because of their jerkish ways. But their attitudes are nothing compared to owner Pierce Crabtree (Philip Carey). He’s brought in goons to take care of any resistance which includes Fonda’s brother (Silence of the Lambs‘ Scott Glenn). They stage a car wreck that the sheriff accepts as Gospel. Fonda refuses to believe the circumstances. Crabtree keeps pushing Fonda to break and give up the land. This is a classic story of little man against the huge corporation. It’s a fine rural ass kicker with bow and arrow action. Fonda has the disposition to play the nice guy who takes things in his own hands when he knows the law is useless. There’s a frightening stunt involving a case with a kid sitting on the handlebars of Fonda’s motorcycle. This was Jonathan Demme’s third feature film as director. Once more this makes people wonder why Demme can’t get back to his roots and make a crowd pleaser.
Moving Violation (1976 – 91 minutes) seems like it should have been a Peter Fonda film. Instead we get Stephen McHattie (300 and Watchmen) as a drifter in a small Southern town. The cops aren’t happy to see him on their roadside, but can’t get him hustled past the town limits. He decides to seduce a free meal by flirting with the girl (Kay Lenz) at the fast food joint. He eventually cons her into skinny dipping at a mansion’s pool. He’s doing well, but what he doesn’t realize is that inside the mansion a young cop is shaking down the local oil and gas magnet (Will Greer). This time the sheriff shoots the deputy. The drifter becomes the patsy when he’s spotted in the pool. He becomes the target for every law enforcement agent. He knows there’s zero chance he can prove his innocence since the sheriff wants him dead under all circumstances. The fast food gal is also marked for death for her association. The duo hit the road for an all out road race with plenty of shooting and crashing. Their only hope is a lawyer (Green Acres‘ Eddie Albert). He might be able to get them cleared before the chase ends.
Fighting Mad & Moving Violation are the perfect drive-in double feature in 1976. You’ve got two men forced to battle the law when the rich and powerful view them as mere pawns. Fonda and McHattie aren’t your normal action heros. Yet both fit the bill when the situation calls for them to grab a weapon and attack. The crashes, explosions and gunplay in both films are dynamic. Free up a hot summer night to enjoy this cinematic double shotgun blast of thrills.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic for both films. The transfers are fine with their ‘70s era grainy location finish. The audio for both films is mono. The levels are tuned for the sounds of crunching metal and gunshots.
Audio Commentaries are provided for both films. Fighting Mad reunites Roger Corman, Jonathan Demme, Peter Fonda and Lynn Lowery. Demme admits that Tak Fujimoto shot the opening stuff. He couldn’t do much cause he wasn’t union at the time. When is Tak going to get a lifetime Oscar? Roger made the movie to get a piece of the Redneck Revenge genre. Moving Violation brings together Roger Corman, Julie Corman, director Charles S. Dubin and Stephen McHattie. Dubin is over 90. It sounds like he was recorded separately. McHattie isn’t quite sure what happened during the shoot. He’s got 158 credits on imdb so there’s a lot of film memories that are overlapping. Julie Corman gives the most detail since in her producer role. She became an expert about how to fake Los Angeles into most of America.
Fighting Mad Trailers (3:37) is has the shorter and long previews spliced together. It emphasizes how strip mining is bad for property values.
Fighting Mad TV Spot (0:27) pushes Peter Fonda’s on the loose with a police radio APB message.
Moving Violation Trailers (4:29) does a fine job setting up the drifter and the fast food gal’s relationship. Lot of good car chase and wreck highlights.
Moving Violation TV Spot (0:31) goes straight for the car wrecks. This was aimed at the crash fans.
Fighting Mad & Moving Violation – Action-Packed Double Feature reminds us that people mistrusting coal and gas CEOs isn’t a new thing. People suspected the energy barons of being up to no good in 1976. Fighting Mad is a perfect vehicle for Peter Fonda since he’s able to play the man that rebels when pushed. He also gets to show off his motorcycle stunt skills. Moving Violation twists a tender romance with a car chase to hell. Both films are fun by themselves, but combine to form a high octane double feature.
Shout! Factory presents Fighting Mad & Moving Violation – Action-Packed Double Feature. Directed by Jonathan Demme & Charles S. Dubin. Starring: Peter Fonda, Eddie Albert, Stephen McHattie and Lynn Lowery. Boxset Contents: 2 movies on 1 DVDs. Released on DVD: May 24, 2011.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.