The Glove (1979)
“I don’t catch baseballs anymore. I catch bail skippers.”
It’s cult favorite, John Saxon, delivering that line in this low budget grindhouse effort from actor/director Ross Hagen with a nice cast of familiar faces filling out the call sheet.
The Glove in question featured prominently on the movie poster is a riot glove made up of 5 pounds of lead and steel. When put on by escaped con Rosey Grier, a bear of a man, that glove can do some serious damage to both man or machine. The film opens with Rosey cornering prison guard Aldo Ray and his late night squeeze after Aldo has left work for the night. Not only does Rosey leave Ray near death following a vicious beating but he destroys the car with clubbing blows as he drags Ray from the car while his lady friend screams continuously in the dark of night.
From the opening scene this film looks to be headed towards a blood fisted slaughter with Rosey hunting down prison guards who mistreated him and others who have been incarcerated. But that’s not really where this one goes. Instead Saxon takes charge with a voice over narration, noir style. He’s got an ex-wife and a little girl he’s fighting to spend time with. Trouble is he’s always chasing bail jumpers and isn’t making enough money to keep his ex satisfied while doing his best not to become a dead beat Dad.
He’s working for Keenan Wynn’s bail bonds operation and looking to score a big payday. He won’t get it picking up his latest mark but it’s rather funny when he catches up to a stereotypical gay man who may be large but has a skinny little lover that Saxon mistakes for the bail skipper. Saxon’s tough when he needs to be but of course has a heart when he catches up to the old gal stealing from her boss. It’s 1930’s favorite Joan Blondell turned character actress. Saxon cuts her loose with a few bucks as opposed to hauling her in to face fraud charges.
Saxon even has a very Miss Moneypenny like flirtation going on with a cute blonde down at the message service that fields his calls.
Back to Rosey. Word on the street is that there’s a 20K reward for bringing the big man in. Dead or alive and Saxon picks up the chase while romancing Joanna Cassidy in between hunting down leads. Though there isn’t a scene to back it up, Rosey, gets wind that Saxon is on his trail and the two begin to play cat and mouse starting with Rosey calling Saxon on the phone and warning him off. Our bounty hunter is a straight shooter and tells Rosey he’s worth 20K to him and he needs the cash. It’s just business. Nothing personal.
Hey, if Saxon can have a love scene with Miss Cassidy then surely Rosey can score with the girl in the apartment upstairs where he’s hiding out. That’s in between his playing the guitar and making friends with a little boy in the building. Turns out when Rosey isn’t beating the tar out of nasty prison guards, he’s a model of society with a heart of pure gold. If only Saxon could see that side of him….. hmmmm.
Of course Saxon will have to stay ahead of a shifty competitor Michael Pataki to score the 20K reward. The late Pataki had an incredibly long list list of screen credits and cult fans may remember him best for low budget fare like Dracula’s Dog and Grave of the Vampire.
While I’d be the first to recognize The Glove is far from memorable there is no denying it’s likable and that’s without question due to the presence of John Saxon in a role that fits him like a ….. sure, like a Glove. There’s a funny bit in his one scene opposite Keenan Wynn where the older actor fluffs a line but they don’t break character and after a chuckle, Wynn, finishes the scene. No I can’t prove it wasn’t meant to play that way but I’ve seen enough outtakes to know a screw up when I see it. The fact that it’s been left in the final print gives both the actors and the viewing audience an opportunity to share a laugh.
The narration from Saxon works well as he goes about his business hunting down bail skippers. From the gay lovers to Blondell to a shootout with a dangerous mark in a meat packing plant. And when he loses his shirt playing poker he delivers a very Robert Mitchum like piece of narration, “I felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach and left the shoe there.”
Though I had seen The Glove as a kid on late night TV I recalled very little if anything about the film. I’ve rectified that after coming across a DVD release of the film from Dark Sky Films where it’s been paired as a double bill with another long lost title I’ve been meaning to track down. Search and Destroy starring Perry Lang and George Kennedy. No poster here in the vault but I did go digging and came up with a dozen glossies from the original press kit. Knew I had something to do with the film tucked away.
I’ve featured a number of John Saxon films since starting Mike’s Take and will continue to do so in the future. If you’re not all that familiar with his work beyond Enter the Dragon or Nightmare on Elm Street, start digging and look up some of his many titles of most any genre dating back to the 1950’s.