Framed (1975)
By: Stuart Giesel on April 20, 2012  | 
Legend Films (USA) | Region 1, NTSC | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 1.0 | 106 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Phil Karlson
Starring: Joe Don Baker, Conny Van Dyke, Gabriel Dell, John Marley, Brock Peters
Screenplay: Mort Briskin
Country: USA
External Links
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During the 70's, Joe Don Baker appeared in a couple of better-than-average vigilante/revenge films - Walking Tall and Framed - as a sort of doughier, redneck-ier version of Charles Bronson. These days Baker's probably better known as the bad guy in the Bond film The Living Daylights and for his appearance in Scorsese's Cape Fear remake. But to genre fans he'll always be the 2x4-wielding Buford Pusser (what a name!) in Walking Tall and scuzzy gambling man Ron Lewis in Framed.

Baker plays Ron Lewis, a gambler who's just come off a big win and gets shot at on the road in the dead of night by a mysterious shooter. The local sheriff gets rough with him, and Lewis kills him in what he believes to be self-defence. Lewis learns that his gambling money has disappeared, and ends up serving four years in prison whilst those who conspired against him end up taking sweet Government jobs. Oh, and his lounge singer girlfriend Susan (Conny Van Dyke, who can't lip sync to save herself) is threatened and molested by some thugs. Seriously, the bad guys might as well have shot Lewis's dog and raped his grandmother just to lay the boot in. With the aid of a few contacts he made in prison, and an incorruptible police officer, Lewis gets ready for some down n' dirty revenge, 70's style!

So Framed is nothing terribly special when it comes down to it, but for fans of 70's revenge films in the vein of Death Wish it's perfectly watchable, and Joe Don Baker makes for a solid lead. He plays a bit of a sleazy character, but hardly in the same league as those around him - he's still likeable enough and doesn't take any shit from anyone. Most importantly, we the audience can't wait to see him exact bloody justice on those who wronged him. The picture is gritty in all the right places, and has some pretty violent bits - the scrappy, brutal fight in Lewis's garage at the beginning is a doozy, and there are some other bits of nastiness that caused the film to fall foul of Australian censors back in the VHS days. However it's hard to think of anything in Framed that would upset the censors these days. I'm not aware of an Aussie release of the film to date, so it appears the US Region 1 DVD is your only viable option.

Much like Rolling Thunder, however, Framed is less about the vigilantism-style exploits of its central character and more concerned with knitting a tightly-constructed plot around a bunch of sordid characters and packaging it into a nice little grimy thriller. Nearly all the characters are dodgy in some way - there are no black and white characters, only shades of shit. Much like the first Death Wish, it feels mostly centred in reality and maintains a sleazy vibe throughout without descending into ultra-exploitative territory like Death Wish II and The Executioner. It's nicely directed and definitely worth a watch, especially coupled with the even better Walking Tall.
Framed is your typical 70's low budget film, meaning the picture is no great shakes but it's perfectly clear, if hardly eye-popping. The transfer is actually surprisingly good, to be honest; it's a nice anamorphic transfer that's clearer and free of artifacts than you might expect.
The audio is pretty ho-hum in general, and there's a bit of background noise here and there, but the dialogue and sound effects are clear.
Extra Features
Nothing. Literally nothing.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
More character-driven than its stock-standard revenge theme might suggest, Framed is a gritty and violent thriller from the director and star of Walking Tall. It relishes less in the vigilante justice of something like the Death Wish series, but that's not to say it's not cathartic for the audience when Joe Don Baker gets off the leash for some old fashioned revenge. Recommended for 70's cinema enthusiasts or fans of revenge films in general.

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