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Viva Knievel!


Rating: 7 Poseidons



Reviewed by Nancy W.


What About the Chihuahuas?: A review of "Viva Knievel"





Chihuahuas would have helped this film, so near the end of this motorcycle wreck of celluloid it seemed a good idea to pretend there were some yippie dogs in the movie. But by then it was too late. A comprehensible plot probably would have helped more than chihuahuas, but we're not banking on that either.


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Sister Charity 

  Just Say "No"


The bizarre twists, of which there were many, began at the beginning when Evel Knievel showed up in the middle of the night bearing gifts at an orphanage run by Sister Charity, who didn't appear again in the rest of the movie, but whose knuckle-rapping presence could have helped. At the least, it would not have hurt. The stirring orphanage scene opened the movie and also set up the subtle undercurrent of biblical metaphors that infused this Movie Club selection.

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 Knievel, Staring Down the Big Cats

 The least subtle of these themes was the motorcycle jump over cages of snarling lions and tigers, reminiscent of the Romans tossing the Christians to hungry beasts. Only, unfortunately, Knievel was spared being torn asunder. And, as even the least schooled of us know, the Bible is rife with fire and there was fire aplenty in this film, though perhaps not aplenty enough.


 The weirdest aspect of "Viva Knievel" was the long stretch that took place in Mexico, which would have been perfect for some chihuahuas, but also for some Mexicans, but there didn't seem to be any of those.



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Red Buttons, "Post Poseidon" 

Gene Kelly


There was Red Buttons, who should have quit making movies at "The Poseidon Adventure," and Gene Kelly, whose portrayal of the drunken motorcycle mechanic/ former jumper rendered us speechless and hoping he would break into song and dance. Alas, that particular plot twist was not to be.

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  Lauren Hutton as Kate Morgan

There was also a young Lauren Hutton, years before she actually grew into her cheekbones and bought herself some breasts. It is truly a sad commentary on her career that her best acting has been in those post-menopausal HRT ads. We mean the print version.



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Bad Guy Leslie Nielsen

Evel and Dabney at the All-American Mexican Asylum

Gene Kelly and Son


We still aren't sure about the whole cocaine-in-the-casket subplot  involving Leslie Nielsen, who just isn't cut out to play an evil drug-dealing overlord. Now, Dabney Coleman we got. He at least seemed to have a little fun with his role as the all-American Mexican asylum doctor, especially when he told the kid who was four sizes too small for his deep voice that he could not see his father, portrayed by Gene Kelly.

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   Forty ...


Back to those biblical undertones -- we all noticed the portentous "40" sign on which the camera affixed for long seconds. Besides being an eerie moment given Paul's 40th birthday celebration and the running commentary involving that figure, we all certainly know that 40 is a key number in the Bible. By movie's end, we had some sense of what it felt like for the Israelites to wander those 40 years in the desert, and certainly it  was no coincidence that the movie's pivotal scenes took place in a desert-like place.
Still, we wonder, where are a pack of chihuahuas when you most need them? Alas, far away from this dog of a Movie Club selection.

The End.