Good Guys Wear Black

This ‘stache isn’t ironic. This ‘stache is serious as FUCK.
★★★★
☆☆
Released: 
1978
Director: 
Ted Post
Starring: 
Chuck Norris, Anne Archer, James Franciscus, Lloyd Haynes, Dana Andrews, Jim Backus
The Setup: 
Evil politician is killing off a bunch of Viet Nam vets… but he didn’t count on CHUCK NORRIS!
Discussion: 

This was my very first Chuck Norris movie, and I feel suitably and satisfyingly deflowered. I chose this one because a) I remember the ads for it on TV when I was ten, b) I saw this was a 70s movie, whereas most Norris movies are from the boring 80s, and lastly, c) Chuck has a stache and on the DVD cover is wearing mirrored cop sunglasses, which were super hot until fall of 2005 when every single gay man in New York City began wearing them, at which point they lost any erotic resonance they might have retained. Yes, Chelsea accomplished what even Michael Jackson could not.

So this movie begins with this excruciatingly long sequence in which we hear that some politician is going to trade a bunch of POWs from the just-ended Viet Nam war in order to get a much larger number of prisoners back. Actually, before that, we have learned that we are going to be treated to a “special appearance by Jim Backus.” So then we join these army [or whoever] grunts, one of whom, it took me a while to realize, is Chuck Norris. He was a lot blonder than I thought—sort of like a butch Luke Skywalker. They’ve been sent into the jungle on a mission, but the helicopters supposed to lift them out are gone—they’ve been left there to die! Which was actually pretty compelling. Anyway, so then we flash-forward five years, leaving the parts in which Chuck leads the survivors out through the perilous jungle to our imagination. This whole bit is 20 minutes, quite long for an introduction, if we’re not talking about a 3-hour movie. During this time we also hear a government professional say “the only thing certain about intelligence is it’s uncertainty.” Current events force us to ask: was this the last vestige of this kind of wisdom in Washington?

So five years later, and Chuck is now really into cars, apparently, as we see him drive one for what seems like two hours, before we see that now he’s older, wiser, and has a hot stache. It strikes me that many of today’s hipsters may never have actually seen a wholly non-ironic stache, worn with confidence. Let me tell you dude, when you wear a stache, you have to put your whole heart into it. None of this ‘oh-isn’t-this-funny, like-isn’t-this-so-like-a-tacky-70s-stache’ waffling, which also delivers a potent ‘my-balls-are-microscopic-and-I-hide-my-insecurity-behind-irony’ message. I’ve been kind of surprised at the vehement HORROR with which people under 30 respond to mustaches. Anyway, in the movie, Chuck’s stache and prowess with handling the curves and general air of suavity makes the wimmenses go nuts, and one of his lovely ladies gets all bent out of shape that he has to go teach a class and can’t go off and ‘Chuck’ her right then. Such are the demands that are placed upon our studly Chuckly.

So he delivers this long anti-Viet Nam War tirade to his class, which is being attended by the unreleting horror of Anne Archer, who was quite young, saucy and different-looking back then [did she have facial reconstructive surgery?]. She’s every bit as odious as ever, however, and comes on to him HARD. They agree to have dinner, and Chuck steps out in this FABULOUS outfit comprised of a black turtleneck and pants, a gray tweed sports jacket, hip sunglasses, and the deal-maker: black leather gloves. They hop into his black Porsche [I am so wet right now], but are soon being pushed into traffic by some evil henchman in a garbage truck. Chuck does some fancy maneuvering, then comes back, jumps out of the car and runs up to the driver—who has very politely waited quietly in the front seat for him to do just this. But you can’t concentrate on the scene because of one cutaway shot showing Chuck slamming on the brakes, and you’re like—WHAT’S with those shoes? Who knew our 70s SuperStud Chuck would select such sensible and comfortable footwear? It was a surprise, but you know what? For me, it makes him even more manly.

So they repair back to Chuck’s house, where he asks Anne if she ‘fools around.’ If I were her, my pussy lips would be tucked back behind my ears by this point, but she smartly makes him wait, and what do you know, she ends up with the Chuck-stache all over her trembling body on the brown shag rug in front of the roaring fireplace. I gotta hand it to her, though by now it has become apparent that she has offered her body in order to pump him for information as well as semen because she’s some kind of reporter or investigative lawyer or something. She remains maddeningly elusive about who she is and what she’s doing, even when Chuck is very demanding about it, and even by the end I didn’t understand what her whole deal was and just found her smarmy and annoying, a fact not helped by the fact that she’s played by the national tragedy that is Anne Archer.

By now it is apparent that Chuck, in this movie, is the total epitome of this elusive image of some fantastically hot 70s guy that was imprinted on me from a young age [i.e. during the 70s], and I have to admit that he either matches of exceeds Sam Elliott’s turn as the same hot randy smoldering mustachioed hairy-chested man-hunk in Lifeguard. What’s also apparent, even to people who are not me, is that every single image in this film is the ESSENCE of the 70s. You have fabulous outfits, amazing sunglasses, majestic feathered hair—even Chuck’ AWESOME shower curtain gathers the whole je ne sais quoi of the 70s into compact, convenient shower-curtain form. And you know, it was simpler time when shades of BROWN made up a viable decorating scheme. I also love touches like a short glimpse we get into Chuck’s kitchen cupboard, which includes a huge tub of oatmeal [gotta keep regular!] and what appears to be an even bigger can of baked beans [gotta keep—huh?]. For more information on the phenomena that is Chuck Norris, please check out these useful Chuck Norris Facts.

So like, is there a plot, you ask? Kind of. It seems that for reasons of political expediency, the evil white politician from the beginning is having all the survivors of that group who got left in the jungle during the 20-minute prologue killed. So Chuck races around finding his buddies just seconds before they’re killed, until he finally gets close to the politician. At the climax, after a short cameo by Jim Backus [in a throw-away role as a nervous doorman—why? See also Friday Foster], we are introduced—just as things should be wrapping up and should be getting exciting, to this GAS BAG who goes on and on and on and on about anything that comes into his mind for like ten minutes, barely even explaining the nefarious plot in the process. Then there’s a bit of action, and finally Chuck confronts the evil politician during another action-packed—TEN-MINUTE CONVERSATION! For God’s sake, I have never seen so much pure blathering at the end of what is supposed to be an action movie. Shut the fuck up and whip out the whup-ass, Chuck!

Anyway, it was a decent ride full of fun 70s touches and the erotic allure of chuck, Chuck, CHUCK, and I now have several more Norris films on my list. But most of them are later, during the 80s, and feature more of a Rambo vibe than a studly 70s vibe [I think... which is true, as I discovered by watching Invasion USA], so I don’t have my hopes up too high. I may have to look into buying this one [and I did, after finding it for $3], because it did fire at an extremely high 70s-satisfaction-per-second [SSPS] rate. Oh Chuck, let me spit-polish your loafers, if only just for one night.

Should you watch it: 

Yes, it’s silly fun with a lot of ludicrous 70s touches, and even more touches ludicrous in any era.