1972 | Color | 99 min.
Starring: William F. McGaha, Hannibal Penney, Joanna Moore, Burr DeBenning, Slim Pickens, Pat Delaney, Judy Frazier, Max Payne (Great name for a video game character), Conrad Peavey, Matthew Garth, Brenda Sutton, Carol Hall, Byron Warner.
Directed By: William F. McGaha
Throughout the past two millennia, the story of Jesus Christ has inspired countless numbers of individuals to reshape their lives, overcome adversity, and generally be kinder to their fellow man. Regrettably, that very same story has been, and still is, used by many people to justify unspeakable acts of oppression and evil, but since I’m writing this at Easter time and I’d like to remain on speaking terms with some of my more religious relatives, I’ll try to stick to the positive side of things.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that such an influential story has been retold countless times in film. Films ranging from stodgy biblical adaptations such as the 1965 epic, The Greatest Story Ever Told, to the highly controversial Martin Scorsese film, The Last Temptation of Christ, and everything in between. Of course, as with any widely covered topic, you also have the just plain bizarre.
Falling squarely in the bizarre category is 1972’s J.C. Inspired by a drug induced vision of the winking eye of God, or Sauron or something, a whiny, motorcycle riding, hippie, stoner version of Jesus named J.C. Masters decides to gather his gang of burnout disciples (including a large bald man dubbed Mr. Clean and one extremely annoying folk singer) and head out west to his hometown of Mason, Alabama to crash at his sister’s place and “stick it to the Man.”
Naturally, being in Hicktown, USA, J.C.’s black friend David is immediately arrested by the local honky police force (played by Slim Pickens and Burr “I’m Dr. Ted Nelson!” DeBenning) and subsequently beaten to a bloody pulp. The reefer messiah and crew quickly formulate a plan to bust their Black-Afro (their words, not mine) buddy out of jail and well, let’s say things don’t quite go as planned and J.C. is forced to sacrifice himself in order to absolve us all of the sins of bigotry, racism, overall lack of mellowness, and our inability to, you know, like just chill man.
J.C. starts out pretty strong in terms of the weirdness factor, with J.C. cruising around on his hog, smoking dope in his tattered underpants, (In case you were wondering, the Anointed One prefers tighty-whities) and bitching to his smoking-hot girlfriend about his lousy job as a carpenter. Sadly once J.C. and gang reach his sister’s house the movie morphs into your standard 70’s biker flick, which is a real shame. I was quite disappointed the filmmakers didn’t completely follow through with the premise of Jesus as a hippie biker dude.
The script is unintentionally hilarious and is just overflowing with hippie slang complete with incoherent rants about “the Man” and other standard flower-child nonsense. Remarkably similar to an average day of MSNBC programming, actually. The editing and cinematography were a little amateurish at times, as evidenced by the staggering amount of time the boom mike appears in frame. And I’m not talking about quickly slipping into the frame and disappearing either. I’m talking fully in view over the actor’s heads and sitting there for the entire scene. Honestly the boom mike should have received a credit at the end of the film. I think it may have actually had more screen time than a couple of the main characters.
Essentially forgotten for the last 40 years (only 30 votes and 2 reviews on IMDB.com as of this review) J.C. is quite an entertaining little film, for what it is. If you can handle all of the blasphemy, folk songs, and hippies, that is. As for the film’s message, if you can manage to extract one from this, please feel free to tell me what the heck it was. As far as I can tell the message was this: Never let a group of hippies crash at your place, even if one of them is your brother and may very well be the son of God. Or, if I may simplify: Don’t, under any circumstances, be a hippie. Frankly, I think that is a message we should all take to heart.
Reviewed by Derek “A Flower Child’s Child” Miller
Posted April 4, 2010
Video Clip (Warning: Foul language and probably a one way ticket to Hell.)