Kris Kristofferson in title role makes an excellent formal acting debut as a faded and drug-busted rock star forced by corrupt cop Gene Hackman into selling marijuana. Well-written and directed by Bill L. Norton, the handsome Gerald Ayres production sustains a good plot while providing proper amounts of environmental color.

Kris Kristofferson in title role makes an excellent formal acting debut as a faded and drug-busted rock star forced by corrupt cop Gene Hackman into selling marijuana. Well-written and directed by Bill L. Norton, the handsome Gerald Ayres production sustains a good plot while providing proper amounts of environmental color.

The weakest plot angle is Hackman’s motivation: not until the surprise climax is it made clear that he wants some extra money since police are underpaid. There’s a lot more breadth in that angle that writer Norton fails to make viable.

Principal supporting players include Karen Black in another Karen Black role as Pike’s amiable but confused girl; the totally delightful Viva; Harry Dean Stanton, excellent as Pike’s old partner, pitiably wasted on hard drugs; and Joy Bang, Viva’s cruising partner.

Kristofferson’s screen presence is very strong. There’s a look in his eyes – a combination of resignation, optimism and torture – that sticks in the memory long after the film has ended.

Cisco Pike

Production

Columbia. Director B.W.L. Norton; Producer Gerald Ayres; Screenplay Bill L. Norton; Camera Vilis Lapenieks; Editor Robert C. Jones; Music Bob Johnston (sup.);; Art Director Alfred Sweeney

Crew

(Color) Extract of a review from 1971. Running time: 94 MIN.

With

Gene Hackman Karen Black Kris Kristofferson Harry Dean Stanton Viva Joy Bang
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