The Tomatometer rating – based on the published opinions of hundreds of film and
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The Tomatometer is 60% or higher.
The Tomatometer is 59% or lower.
Movies and TV shows are Certified Fresh with a steady Tomatometer of 75% or
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Percentage of users who rate a movie or TV show positively.
Mark L. Lester is either an exploitation director of modest talent and somewhat elevated taste, or one of the shrewdest political filmmakers ever to set foot in Hollywood. For those who only know his work on pictures like Truck Stop Women, Gold of the Amazon Women, Roller Boogie, or Class of 1999, he probably seems like the former, but for anyone who's followed his career from the beginning, when he was making movies that won prizes at the Venice Film Festival, there's no question that he's a serious filmmaker. Lester was born in Cleveland, OH, and raised in the San Fernando Valley, in the suburbs of Los Angeles. His interests in college centered far more on politics than filmmaking, and in 1968 he was chairman of California Youth for Senator Eugene McCarthy -- it was from those beginnings that the direction of his career, if not the career itself, became apparent. Lester turned to filmmaking after graduating from California State University at Northridge with a degree in political science. He headed to San Francisco with the idea of making movies which contained significant political and social statements. By that time, he had become a voracious moviegoer and watcher, and had seen several thousand movies dating from the silent era to the most recent releases. His idol was director/producer Howard Hawks, not only for his stylistic attributes, but also because Hawks was a filmmaker who couldn't be pegged to a single particular genre -- he made comedies, Westerns, dramas, action-adventure stories, and even science fiction, and all of it was acclaimed by critics and the public alike. Lester started his professional career with a documentary about the police, but his first full-length movie was a documentary entitled Twilight of the Mayas (1971), for which he spent six months living in Mexico; the film won the top prize for a documentary at the 1971 Venice Film Festival. He next wrote, produced, and directed Tricia's Wedding, a parody of the Nixon White House starring the satiric cabaret troupe the Cockettes. The mixing of political satire and a cast made up mostly of actors in drag was, in and of itself, a daring political statement at the time, and the movie -- which became an underground favorite and a hit on the "midnight movie" circuit -- put Lester on the cutting edge of new American filmmakers. In 1973, Lester released Steel Arena -- which he wrote, produced, and directed himself -- a movie about the people who make their livings pushing cars (and themselves) to the limit in demolition derby exhibitions. The movie was a success and also garnered enthusiastic reviews from Rolling Stone and other magazines, whose writers saw the movie's originality and bold approach to its subject as groundbreaking. With that film to his credit, Lester jumped into the profitable exploitation cinema field with Truck Stop Women (1974), a good-natured action thriller starring ex-Playboy Playmate Claudia Jennings, about a group of women who use their truck stop as a front for hijackings and prostitution, and have to fight for their survival when organized crime tries to take over their operation. Then it was back to his political roots in 1975 with White House Madness, a satirical look at Washington politics in the era of Watergate. By this time, Lester had organized his own production company, Mark L. Lester Films. In 1976, Lester made Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw, a violent action feature co-starring a pre-Wonder Woman Lynda Carter and evangelist-turned-actor Marjoe Gortner in a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde-type crime story, with a clever script by Vernon Zimmerman. In 1977, Lester released Stunts (aka Who Is Killing the Stuntmen?), a thriller about a company making an action-adventure film that proved exciting to audiences and absorbing to mainstream critics, who were now acknowledging Lester as one of the most talented and daring low-budget filmmakers in America. Ironically, despite the praise that he received for the best of these movies durin