Actions

The One Man Jury/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< The One Man Jury
Omjtop.png

One Man Jury AKA Dead on Arrival and God Who Played God stars Academy Award winning actor Jack Palance as Jim Wade, a worn-down-by-life Los Angeles police detective. Weary of watching criminals—and in particular a serial killer—get off on judicial technicalities, Wade takes matters into his own hands; and if that means executions, that’s okay too. In this film, like in all of his films, Jack Palance is superb. His lanky, mask-faced, unique-voiced presence elevates the film to star-vehicle rather than exploitation cinema procedural.

One Man Jury 05.jpgOne Man Jury 03.jpg

Other characters also bring this seldom referenced film to life. There’s Wade’s straight-shooting policeman sidekick Blake (Ricco The Mean Machine's Christopher Mitchum), his lovely but a bit too knowing girlfriend Wendy (Pamela Shoop), his major nemesis mob boss Mike (Maniac's Joe Spinell), and wishy washy over-the-hill prostitute Kitty (Angel Tompkins). Bringing it all home nicely is Jeff McCracken as Joe Kerman, a serial killer and rapist who seems to be channeling Norman Bates from Psycho.

A direct descendant of Dirty Harry, Death Wish and Walking Tall, One Man Jury holds its own as a competent continuation of public angst. Is it fair to take matters into your own hands when the law cannot? Are you complicit when you watch a killer get away with murder because of faulty paperwork? And what is one’s responsibility when it comes to righting wrongs in the American justice system?

One Man Jury 02.jpgOne Man Jury 01.jpg

Vintage Los Angeles locations: tenement apartments, gyms, boats, back alleys, burger joints and gas stations present a colorful backdrop for this peek at one man’s attempt at rectification. And several excursions to nearby Vegas casinos add even more color.

Writer/Director Charles Martin delivers a film that is both a reflection of the times in which it was made and an update. The downbeat ending is a surprise choice.

Jos.jpg
Josiah Howard is the author of four books including the seminal Blaxploitation Cinema: The Essential Reference Guide. His writing credits include articles for The New York Times, Reader’s Digest and The Village Voice. A veteran of more than 100 radio broadcasts he is a regular contributor to Grindhouse Cinema Database and in 2014-15 made regular appearances on TV One’s award-winning documentary series Unsung. Visit his Official Website.
Donate