Musician Cisco Pike has been arrested for drug dealing. We see him trying to pawn his guitar. He can’t pawn it and comes home to find that his latest demos have been rejected. A cop called Leo Holland approaches Pike with a deal- to sell a massive amount of marijuana that he has, ahem, acquired. He needs $10,000 and gives Pike 59 hours to sell it. Any excess money he can keep along with having his most recent arrest paperwork altered if the case goes to trial so that he gets off. Pike agrees but things go wrong when mid-sale, a buyer sees Holland spying on them. He takes off, Pike angrily returns the drugs to Holland but is later confronted by the cop who beats him and threatens to kill him if Pike doesn’t continue with the sales.
This is an impressive slice of New Hollywood with the rulebook being ripped up. Cisco Pike was made by Columbia Pictures and it feels like they were trying to tap into a counter-culture demographic. The film could happily have been shown in regular movie theatres but also drive-ins, grindhouse cinemas and programmed for midnight screenings. I can imagine the smell of Mary Jane at these screenings.
The fact that the film is about a corrupt cop approaching a drug dealer (who to his credit is trying to go straight) to sell a vast amount of weed that he has stolen feels very ‘new’ within the confines of mainstream Hollywood also. The cast is fantastic with Kris Kristofferson making his film debut and doing a great job as well as Gene Hackman as Holland and Karen Black as Cisco’s love interest. The supporting cast is also impressive with Warhol superstar Viva and Harry Dean Stanton (credited here as H.D. Stanton) featuring.
I loved the oh-so-trippy filmmaking techniques used. Let’s just say there’s a lot of handheld cameras used. Another example of the rulebook being ripped up. Or used to make roaches.
Look out for the Blu Ray released by the ever-brilliant Indicator label. It’s fantastic.
3.5 stars out of 5