Sweet Savage (1978)

February 25, 2014 by adamsunderground

Stock photo of Carol Connors putting Blondie to shame. Image by trishautographs, via Photobucket

At the closing of America’s western frontier, a stagecoach deposits a mysterious American Indian woman garbed in urban fashions to a southwestern border town. In this dusty outpost her stoic and unwavering countenance coolly faces hostility and hospitality given to her by its white residents, who are either suspicious or cautious about her entire tribe nearby. A former pupil of east coast schools in the years prior to the homecoming, this squaw named Shy Dove has returned to teach and aid her primitive people, yet the homecoming is bittersweeet, as the natives harbor their own enmities and suspicions for their unfamiliar neighbors and Dove’s newfound worldliness. Torn between these opposing cultures, Dove only betrays weariness at her untenable position as smouldering eyes find love that sparks conflict between the two societies.

The Dirty Westerns (1 & 2) have stunted stories–as if their plots were undersized cattle, each with less than ideal amounts of meat available for all but the most adept butchers to extract, while Sweet Savage’s heifer has a stout frame with ample potential in its ambitious, abundant screenplay. However, the skilled efficiency DWs’ butchers—er, production crew, finds all the meat available, exceeding ambitious SS’s puzzingly weak yield. SS is a larger beast that should be more successful for its greater story potential, had it been more efficiently rendered.

Translated from that cattle metaphor, several opportunities are missed early in SS to introduce the characters and their motives, which cascades into rushed sequences, after-the-fact explanations, and more missed chances later in its story. It’s not a high conceptual picture, yet ten almost mute minutes elapse on screen before the story begins–and slowly at that.

The production itself misfires throughout the film, mostly with insensitive camera operation, inexcusable editing choices and insufficient lighting outdoors. Sadly only one of its sex scenes generates heat onscreen, a disservice to the established stars Bethanna, Connors, Wells, and West. But the music works for the movie well and the softcore nudity shots do maintain a baseline for eroticism.

A time-wasting clip that shows SS’s production design

See the first and second DW films before screening SS because its unrealized frontiers adult westerns can explore may frustrate the impatient viewer.


Image by brownalan93, via Flickr

AU Score
Total Grade: D
Specialty Grade
Screenplay D
Acting C
Cinematography C
Film Editing D
Visual Effects F
Audio B
Sound Editing F
Audio Effects D
Musical Score A
Production Design C

Click page 2 below for the technical analysis and plot step outline of Sweet Savage


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