GOIN' SOUTH - Avalon 2, Carrolton 6, K-B Cerberus 1, K-B Silver, Roth's Americana, Roth's Randolph 1 and Roth's Tysons Corner 3.
Jack Nicholson set out to make himself a "Treasure of Sierra Madre," but since he is both the director and star of what he came up with no one apparently told him that "Goin' South" isn't it.
He put in the same gold-grubbing, unshaven, thirsty-looking grubbiness. He got some very dry scenery, representing southern Texas and the Mexican border. He put in the gold mine, only made it right at home where the heart is - such symbolism - and added a girl.
And came up with nothing.
One problem seems to be that while he has tried to build a character for himself out of a type that has worked previously, he made the other characters out of leftovers that had never been much to begin with.
Take the heroine. The story concerns and outlaw - Nicholson - who is saved from hanging by an ordinance permitting any property-holding woman to redeem a condemned criminal by agreeing to marry him, a yuk-yuk law supposed to be left over from the Civil War when men were scarce and women got you know. So the women who agrees to do this after rationing is over has got to have something motives.
The woman, as play by Mary Steenburgen, a newly "discovered" actress without previous credits, turns out to be a prissy virgin who really only needs only one thing to turn her into an adoring wife, of the pertly impudent variety. Her friends advise her that marital duties are not as dreadful as she might imagine, but she doesn't really appreciate her husband until he ties her arms and leg to the bedposts. Now there is a heroine to unleash in 1978.
She is not the film's only problem. The story line has two gags - the skittishness between husband and wife who are strangers and the naughtiness of the husband in what is supposed to be a submissive role - and repeats them over and over. The camera jerks when panning around the dusty town. The leading man talks normally half the time and with his nose stopped up the rest of the time.
And the director apparently never told him to cut it out.