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CONNIE NELSON TAKES 'THE HARD ROAD' W/ GARY KENT

year: 1970 cast: Connie Nelson, John Alderman, Gary Kent, Liz Renay, Karen Lind rating: ***
Part of a double feature DVD headlined by DAMAGED GOODS, one of those low budget films warning teens about sexual diseases, which was made in 1961 when America was still trim and proper, here we have the same kinda thing but set in the late sixties/early seventies: so the stakes are raised considerably.

Like GOODS there’s a physician sporadically narrating a short film for teens – this one about pregnancy and drugs befitting the main character Pamela played by Connie Nelson. Sometimes you discover genuine classic beauties in exploitation films, and Nelson’s girl-next-door is an innocent bunny but not without a sensuous undertone.
Connie Nelson in exploitation repose
The girlfriend of writer/director Gary Graver, a creative indie filmmaker who worked as cinematographer for Orson Welles, Nelson can act alright and her story begins decently enough. Working for a seedy record producer (played by exploitation heavy Gary Kent), Pamela meets a handsome musician named Jimmy who introduces her to a world of drugs.

The movie loses pace once we center on Jimmy’s heroin addiction, losing touch with Pamela who lays around in bed, hopelessly moping for her wayward beau.
John Alderman and Gary Kent watch Connie change
Once his story hits rock bottom we return to Pamela but it’s almost too late. Her nine lives have dwindled and the film loses all point and purpose as she trips on acid, spins inside a bedroom and wanders the city like an insane rag doll.

So it's the first half hour about a troubled high school dropout that’s worth the watch. Although the DVD’s headliner (DAMAGED GOODS) is a much better time, never losing focus on the characters we initially invest in.
"Do you realize you're starring in a low budget movie?"
Connie Nelson in THE HARD ROAD
Connie Nelson looking good despite bad film stock lines
Connie Nelson as Pamela
Pamela (Connie Nelson) hooked on drugs
INTERVIEW with GARY KENT about HARD ROAD director Gary Graver
GARY KENT: Gary Graver was one of my best friends, and remained so for many years. We must have done at least ten or more films together, wrote screenplays together that we could never get produced, we went through family problems, personal triumphs and failings, etc... 

Gary was one of the hardest working guys I have known... he was mostly a cinematographer... his forte was speed getting the shot set and done, and his personality... which was charming, very funny in a dry way, and ingratiating. 

He worked tirelessly as a film editor, also, and frequently, after a long day of filming, Gary would go to the editing room and edit long into the night. If he wasn't doing that, he was dragging us (some cast and crew) off to see a foreign film he particularly liked, or some work by his idol, Orson Welles. And as a director himself, Gary was fun and enthusiastic...he knew how to set staging, but was not schooled in drama or theater, so he left the actors pretty much on their on as far as interpretations, portrayals, etc. were concerned.
GARY KENT on playing Leo the record producer
GARY KENT (CONT): There was an agent, with offices on the Sunset Strip, who embodied the hot-shot, testosterone-fueled fellow named Leo, whom we meet in the movie. This fellow, Mickey, even had the two-way mirror to view his secretaries... 

He also would frequently appear wearing a fur coat of some sort, the kind for males they used to wear at Yale ball games. I had a pet coyote who ate the coat one day when Mickey laid it on my sofa, and proceeded to the kitchen to mix drinks. Poetic justice? Anyway, it was Mickey I was channeling.
BUY GARY KENT'S AWESOME BOOK ON AMAZON
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