The Glove – 1979 / Director: Ross Hagen

We “lapper uppers” of the grindhouse; us eager consumers of the genre potboiler picture… we sure do possess a particularly forgiving palate.

Far more regularly than would be permissible for the mainstream movie-going audience, we find ourselves cheerily beguiled by lavish poster art, happily hoodwinked by the wildly specious strap lines and readily accepting in denouement when the cinematic content therein fails to deliver on its promises.

It’s a bit like choosing steak from the menu and being served corned beef instead. And yet, we hungrily wolf it down and leave a tip with the bill.

Rather than bemoan the deceit, we actually seem to rejoice in it. As if the confidence trick reminds us that nothing is perfect, after all. Perhaps we were always only ever interested in looking for something dog-eared and tatty anyway.

Something dog-eared and tatty like Ross Hagen‘s directorial debut The Glove, a film that gloriously packages itself as some kind of post-apocalyptic, Rollerball meets Death Race 2000, Blaxploitation/Crime sensation:

“A crazed sadistic killer stalks the streets of a city gripped by terror…
a gory trail of battered bodies leads to that last horrifying climax.”

The reality is of course, corned beef.
John Saxon plays Sam Kellog, a cash strapped, unlucky in love bounty hunter crippled by alimony cheques and a sense of helpless alienation. A $20’000 prize is put on the head of Rosey Grier, a recently released con who is embarking on a vengeful killing spree – his targets, Aldo Ray and the other prison guards who tortured him whilst in the slammer. Sam sees the opportunity to make some much needed money and sets off in pursuit…

Like the specious strap lines, the above synopsis is fairly liberal with the truth. More “Owl and the Pussycat” than “Cat and Mouse”, The Glove is far less interested in the manhunt than it is with the man on the hunt.  Furthermore, anyone expecting much in the way of “gloves” is more likely to be left scratching their head at this character driven drama rather than gasping at its (rather inert) action.

Nonetheless, this is very much Saxon’s film – one told in a half-neurotic monologue, faux film-noir style, and focused almost exclusively on his faltering romance with the wife of a card shark and his brittle relationship with an estranged daughter.
Grier’s role, tacked on here and there in dream-like addendum, appears to be to smash his way through a couple of corrupt prison guards’ faces with a riot glove at the beginning, play some guitar at a jazz club in the middle and lament the “softly-softly” issue of social inequity that bubbles away in the sub-text towards the end.

Much like its characters, The Glove is a lost soul – meandering aimlessly from one scene to the next without purpose and yet it’s still somehow oddly engrossing. B-Movie mainstay Hagen was all too happy to admit later on that he didn’t really know what he was doing during the production and the child like handling is plain to see. It’s there in the pool-side punch up between Saxon and a pair of homosexuals, there in the abattoir for a bizarre meat-cutlass duel, there in the corny picnic scene when Saxon tries to get his leg over. Yet as misleading and perplexing as it all undoubtedly is, The Glove is a sturdy John Saxon film, an acquired taste, perhaps yes, but an enjoyable one all the same…