Action, Police, Thriller

Framed (1975)

Comments Off on Framed (1975) 25 May 2017


Studio: Kino

Theatrical Release: August 1975

Blu Ray Release: February 28, 2017

Director: Phil Karlson


Review by James Klein

It’s should be no surprise when I tell you dear readers about my absolute love for 70’s cinema: the acting, the directing, the style, the practical effects, the bush, etc. So when I had a chance to review a mid-70’s action / revenge film starring Joe Don Baker of Walking Tall fame being re-united with his director Phil Karlson, I knew I was in for a treat. I was not disappointed. 

Joe Don stars as Ron Lewis, a bar owner and card gambler who can not say no to a high stakes game. As Ron watches his lady sing (Conny Van Dyke from Hells Angels ’69) he gets a call about a big game and instantly makes plans to travel to win some money. Being the card shark that he is, Ron comes back to his lady with thousands of dollars in tow, even making some extra money for his bartender and lounge singer / performers. 

While driving home that night, two cars are blocking the road forcing Ron to get out of his car to see what the commotion is about. A man begins firing a gun, shattering Ron’s windshield before speeding off. With no signs of anyone around, Ron goes home where he is met by the local police officer Haskins (Roy Jenson from Chinatown and Every Which Way But Loose) who refuses to listen to Ron’s story, threatening him and even taking a few jabs at him. The short-tempered Ron fights back and the two men have an insanely bloody and rather long fist fight which results in Haskins being killed. 

As Ron is in the hospital and trying to recover from the fight, his girlfriend is raped to keep quiet while his attorney fucks him over and forces him to plead guilty. Ron eventually is thrown in jail where a quarter of the film centers on his troubles in the can as he is tormented by the guards who label him as a “cop killer”. Imprisoned mobster Sal (John Marley from The Godfather and Deathdream) takes him under his wing by coaxing Ron into staging some card games, making a little extra cash. When Sal is released, he gives Ron a wad of cash and is able to get Ron released on bail. 

Out and about, Ron is hellbent on clearing his name and getting revenge as he and a friendly hitman (Gabriel Dell from all the Bowery Boy movies) track down the men who betrayed him while dealing with the local police who want nothing but to see Ron thrown back in jail or better yet, dead. 

Simply put, Framed is not for pussies. It’s a hard nosed, bloody, violent, action film with some great performances, most notably by Joe Don. He was born to play this part and watching the character of Ron turn from a decent good natured fella to a crazed and violent avenger is brilliant. Director Karlson even has the balls to show Ron in a not so bright light as Ron starts to kill when verbally threatened, almost questioning who exactly is the real bad guy. His torture of one villain by blowing off his victim’s ear and sticking a hot car wire in the good ear is both hilariously violent and borderline gross. Karlson loves his violence and while the scenes are gruesome, it is never stylized. The violence is real and dirty. The fact that Framed doesn’t even have much of a soundtrack, adds to the realism. 

Kino’s blu ray is a bit of a mystery to me. While the transfer looks bright, the colors look faded to me. None of the colors popped. During daylight sequences, the clouds actually blend into the sky, not giving much definition. The transfer retains the film grain but I wasn’t sold on the picture quality. The 2.0 DTS-HD sound mix is fine but due to the lower budget, it seems like the actors weren’t close enough to the microphones. I could hear the dialog but the voices seemed a bit muffled. The special features are nil. There is a great commentary track by film historians Howard S. Berger and Nathaniel Thompson who discuss Karlson’s career along with some of the other performers. They too admit to being taken aback by the violence. They even compare Karlson to other manly directors of that era such as Robert Aldrich, Sam Peckinpah and Don Siegel. Aside from the commentary track, the blu ray has trailers to other Kino releases but unfortunately there is not a trailer for Framed

If you are a fan of the Walking Tall pictures or even 70’s action cinema, this is a blu ray that you need to obtain despite the subpar transfer.

Movie Rating: ★★★★☆

Blu Ray Rating: ★★½☆☆ 


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