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If Dinh is a holy innocent \(an effect a womanizer who beats his wife, ignores exaggerated by the sincere but his children, and covets such a fancy hopelessly amateurish portrayal by Ho boat that he can’t make the payments. Nguyen, now a Houston research scien Harris strains mightily to give Shang’s character some depth, but the script has Life Insurance and Annuities Martin Elfant, CLU 4223 Richmond, Suite 213, Houston, TX 77027 o SSif e COMPUTER CAMPAIGN CONSULTANTS Prepare NOW for your Spring Campaign Consultation/Training/Programming-4- -*-for all your Hardware /Software Needs Call or Write for details: intellectronics, inc./dale napier 403 NASA Road 1 East, Suite 116 Houston 77598 Printers Stationers Mailers Typesetters Trade High Speed Web Offset Publication Press Counseling Designing Copy Writing Editing and Computer Sales Services Complete Computer Data Processing Services ,0.0E0 MN,/ ie NG FUTURA . 7 TRADES ULP:4111Z4 COUNCIL A PRESS ‘”__ __,./. AUSTIN TEXAS ILATIUMIVA 512/442-7836 1714 South Congress P.O. Box 3485 Austin, Texas 78764 made him such a typical shitkicking loser that he might as well wear a sign saying “Poor White Trash and Ashamed of It.” There is a steamy dancing scene between Shang and Glory, powerful but utterly without context, and she eventually drops him not only because he’s a racist but because she’s “been to Corpus, lived in a condo, and gone out with educated guys.” In Corpus, says Glory, the folks aren’t real rednecks, they only dress like that for fun, and the film never questions her assumption that a condo and an office job make one immune to racism, a disease common to working-class stiffs in gimme caps. The film never questions that assumption because I suspect the filmmakers, looking with outsiders’ eyes at a Southern, Texas community they clearly do not understand, firmly believe it. It’s not clear who is most responsible for the casual class snobbery and redneck-baiting of the film, but it’s a shame to see because the material has much in common with Malle’s justly acclaimed Lacombe, Lucien. The strength of that film, about the slow seduction into collaboration of a young Frenchman under the Nazis, was precisely its attention to the trapped circumstances of working-class choices. Maybe Malle or scriptwriter Alice Arlen couldn’t make themselves believe in a similar American class predicament, in which the poor are made to fight over the leavings of the rich at any rate, what is seen as honest ambition among the Vietnamese is treated as nothing but lazy, irresponsible greed among the Texans. Add to that a series of stupid and obvious jokes, an impossibly thickheaded game warden, the obligatory cracker sheriff, a cowboy hat worn backward and even a sympathetic viewer, who loathes racism and all its works, is likely to be rooting for the Klan by the end of the first reel. They, not the Vietnamese, are the real underdogs of this film, and all their gunracks and molotov cocktails are harmless against the collective armaments of liberal sanctimony. Louis Malle is a fine filmmaker, and in Atlantic City demonstrated that he could handle very American material with wit and style. But in Alamo Bay the combination of misplaced archetypes and intractable history has undone him, and despite powerful performances from Harris and Madigan, he has made a film reaching for archetypes and coming up only with cliches. There is plenty of room for a left-wing revision of John Ford’s eternal western verities, but for the moment the old man can rest easy. 20 MAY 17, 1985