The Dion Brothers/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Jack Starrett's rollicking 1974 Hixploitation crime comedy THE DION BROTHERS has been largely forgotten by the cinema community but for those of us who have been introduced to it (thanks to Quentin Tarantino) it's become a special little gem from the time period. About 10 years ago I had to search for several months to acquire a DVD-R copy of this movie but I finally found one. The film's screenplay was co-written by none other than the legendary film auteur Terrence Malick (Badlands) under a pseudonym "David Whitney". Who knew that he had such a knack for wacky and comical dialogue? For me, this movie ranks right up with his finest work.
Good ol Virginia boy Calvin Dion (Stacy Keach) is stuck working in a canning factory. It's clear that this profession doesnt suit his personality or ambition as he wants to make it big someplace...somewhere. Following his departure from the dead end job, Calvin visits his younger brother Russell aka Rut (Frederic Forrest) who has his own troubles since he's slaving away in the bowels of a Virginia coalmine for pay. Calvin's soon got a vision of the future, a self run seafood eatery in Washington D.C. called "The Blue Grotto", but he needs some stake money to get things off the ground. This leads to the brothers planning an armored car robbery that is pulled off with the aid of a small gang of shady, likeminded pals including Tony (Barry Primus), Carlos (Richard Romanus) and Rex (Denny Miller).
The heist goes smoothly and the gang take off with the cash hootin and hollerin. Once they get back to their hideout (well it's actually just an apartment), they split up the dough. Calvin is obsessed with opening The Blue Grotto as he sets up the menu which includes such delicacies as Whale blubber bits and Octopus on Ice. This is gonna be some damn good eatin! Trouble suddenly comes into paradise when the coppers descend on the gang and a large shootout ensues. With some quick thinking, Calvin and Rut pull a fast one and use the police uniforms from the robbery to slip right on out from under the long arm of the law. Poor Rex isn't so lucky as he decides to take a flying leap out a window to avoid capture. Jack Starrett was exceptional at filming action and this sequence is just one of several that really show his eye for stunts and camerawork.
The Dion boys manage to get away scott free, and celebrate with a nice dinner at a fancy eating house. Calvin orders a variety of seafood (of course) and Rut gets a well done Fil-ay Mig-Non with A-1 sauce. Their plans of living high on the hog come up against another obstacle when Tony (aka Pizza Puss) takes off with the cash, forcing Calvin and Rut to track down his squeeze Margie (a young, cute Margot Kidder). The boys pose as cops to keep her under their watchful eyes until they find out where Tony has gone to. More eating follows as they go out for some tasty BBQ ribs. During their fine dining, a sniper begins shooting into the crowd trying to hit them. Turns out Carlos is the man with the gun. They give chase and corner him in a hotel kitchen where they proceed to beat his ass four ways til Tuesday and threaten him with a lobster. This is where they find out what has happened to Tony and the rest of their loot. The grand finale of this mean motorscooter of a movie will have you on the edge of your seat as an entire building is demolished by a wrecking ball with our hillbilly heroes Calvin and Rut (and some chickens) stuck inside.
THE DION BROTHERS is a non stop barrage of hickified one liners, explosive action and loony encounters that will keep you highly entertained for its entire 94 minute running time. Yes film geek friends this here is a film that truly needs to be released in a high definition BluRay edition with audio commentary by Stacy Keach and Frederic Forrest. I really hope that this happens sooner rather than later!
Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. He is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life.