Nascar racing hopeful Larry Rayder prepares the heist of his life with his mechanic, Deke Sommers. However, sleazy girlfriend Mary Coombs joins the duo and becomes a pawn in a chase across the American plains led by Captain Everett Franklin. The police officer will stop at nothing to catch the crooks, including using a helicopter in one of the craziest and dirtiest celebrated car chase in film history. Will the bandits escape?
The chase and skids start early in the film even before the heist. I argue that this film shares many elements with Two-Lane Blacktop but is probably the more successful of the two. Like Two-Lane Blacktop, the core crew of the film is a driver, a mechanic and a weirdo young woman. Here the Captain, chasing the trio is like GTO, the opponent of the Driver and Mechanic in Two-Lane Blacktop. The difference between the two films is that Dirty Mary Crazy Larry has a clear storyline. As well as an ongoing chase, the film has explores the backstory of characters and plays the tropes of a car movie readily.
Skids, stunts, speeding are all tricks that Dirty Mary Crazy Larry rely on to create memorable car chases that went further than previous movies. I would say that there was an excess of stunts compared to the muted drag racing in Two-Lane Blacktop and other films with iconic car chases from the 1960s and 1970s. The best part about the chases is the roar the car make when they speed off.
I like Mary’s quest to be accepted in a world where she is treated as nothing but a dirty white trash meant to be used by men. All of her excesses are motivated by this quest to be taken seriously and loved. Deke also feels longing, disabused by Larry’s callousness. He even tries to ally himself with Mary out of desperation but Mary’s not worth it.
The Captain’s obsession with Larry and Deke is similar to Popeye’s or Bullitt’s quests in The French Connection and Bullitt. Just like in those movies, as the representative of the law, he tries get the bad guys even if that means endangering innocents. It’s up to his own boss to reign him in from time to time.
Dirty Mary Crazy Larry is a great movie and worth watching over and over again.