Monday, April 18, 2016

The Killing of Randy Webster

The Killing of Randy Webster ~ This one is another lost telemovie that I remember from my youth that I thought I would never find again. One thing that made it stand out to me was the soundtrack by April Wine, a band that I had liked back in the day. Hardly anyone remembers them now.

Though largely forgotten on the mainstream rock scene, the Canadian band April Wine is still active, and had more than a few hits way back when. Among them were the Dungeons & Dragons flavored Lorence Hud cover "Sign of the Gypsy Queen" and the power ballad "Just Between You and Me" as well as my personal favorites "All Over Town" and the cleverly titled "If You See Kay." There were others, and for a very very short time in the early eighties, April Wine, with its great rock logo, was hot.

The soundtrack was not the only thing that makes this film stand out. It's also one of the lost few not found on video or DVD with any reliability. Luckily it does run on some of the nostalgia networks and is also on YouTube. It also stars three actors - Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sean Penn, and Anthony Edwards - who would all appear again together a year later in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

The Killing of Randy Webster, a true story based on a 1977 Shreveport LA murder of a teenager by a police officer, is actually quite relevant in this age of Ferguson and "Making a Murderer." What are the facts, and who really did what? Hal Holbrook stars as the teenager's father trying to get to the truth, through a Rashomon-like maze of contraindications and controversy. Also look for a younger thinner Dixie Carter as the mom.

The movie is painfully both a product of television movie of the week-ness and the 1970s, but that doesn't ruin what is a powerful story once it gets going. Later in the movie it becomes more a father's quest and a legal drama, with Holbrook getting the bulk of the emotional action.

I have to confess that The Killing of Randy Webster wasn't as good as I remember, but the concept and the music still hold up in my book. Worth seeing if you can find it.

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