After oil is found in a small town and local factory shut down, violent crime skyrockets. A young man has had enough and calls in his older brother, a cynical Vietnam vet, who cleans the streets but then tries to take over the town.
Generally, I like the kind of movie about which I could say, "This movie could never be made today." That is a statement true of Ace Eli, but unfortunately, this movie should never have been made in its time either.
It is thoroughly unpleasant, aimless and populated with hateful characters. The odd thing is that it seems designed as some sort of nostalgic family entertainment.
Begin with Cliff Robertson and the kid who Bobby Brady paid a half dollar to go out with Cindy. They are dad and son. The mom is killed in a plane crash with Cliff as pilot (this happens right away, so I'm not spoiling anything), and Cliff decides he's going to go fly away in his biplane and barnstorm the country. The kid is a jerk to a little girl who likes him, Cliff is a jerk to the kid and the girl's mom who he is immediately sleeping with (fun for the whole family). They burn down their house and take off. The kid smokes, Cliff sleeps with some more gals, lots of nice footage of the plane flying around, no real narrative.
The positives: Pamela Franklin is unspeakably hot as a uppity woman who is attracted to good ol' Cliff. Bernadette Peters fans can see her. Nice shots of an old biplane flying around for those who are interested in barnstorming and such.
The odd thing is that Spielberg wrote this, and it is about a time in American history about which one could write a sentimental father-son barnstorming team movie. This movie has very little sentiment (Spielberg maybe tried to make up for this with "Always"?) and NO charm despite it's unique setting.
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