MILL CREEK DRIVE-IN CLASSICS: Jive Turkey (1974)

Man, Mill Creek box sets are beyond a learning experience, because you’ll get a Hammer movie, the story of a talking monster truck, an Israeli coming of age comedy, some giallo, Spanish horror, a Bigfoot doc and who knows what else. Let’s also include the blacksploitation film Jive Turkey, also known as Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes.

Pasha (Paul Harris, Truck Turner) runs the numbers in the city. His childhood friend Big Tony (Frank DeKova, who had a long career of playing tough guys and died in his sleep) runs the drugs. But the narcotics are drying up and the mafia wants in on gambling and Pasha even has a traitor in his midst. It’s not going to be a good day.

This movie may not interest many but isn’t that what this site is all about? There are moments to savor here, like the closing Russian roulette scene between Pasha and Tony, as well as Serene, Pasha’s #1 hitman. Or hitwoman. You’ll figure it out and I love that the film didn’t make her into a caricature but instead the most cunning and deadly character in the entire movie.

This all was written by Howard (who produced) and Elizabeth Ransom with a script by Fredricka DeCosta, who all never did anything else. Director Bill Brame did a lot more, including The Cycle Savages, Miss Melody Jones and Scream Free! while editing eight episodes of the original Star Trek.

Of all the things to enjoy in this film, perhaps the best part is that it feels almost like a documentary of a day in Pasha’s life. You get to meet the low and medium-level people who keep the street moving and get the feel that you’re there. And if you’re the least bit offended by language (racist and profanity both), perhaps this isn’t the movie for you because even the soundtrack is filled with it.

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