However, the central character is Joe. So what about Joe? Well for one, his name is perfectly fitting. Because that's what he is-an average joe. A working-class man with working-class values. A man who loves bowling, brews, and above all his country. He's a stark believer and spokesman of patriotism. And in the world of 1970, there wasn't too much patriotism going on, particularly from the youth of America. "Times they were a changin" as they say. Joe wasn't happy with that change. He doesn't like the counterculture, whether it be dodge-drafters, druggies, free love, rock music, or just guys with long hair. He likes the modest, moralistic, and hard-working America he grew up with. And so does Bill Compton, a business man with a teenage daughter (Susan Sarandon) considered to be a "hippie" and a drug addict, along with her drug-dealer boyfriend.
Bill eventually confronts the boyfriend and gets himself into some serious trouble after a bout of rage. Later he also crosses paths with Joe at a bar, who's mouthing off drunkenly about the problems of the world. Bill doesn't say much, but he did say something that threw Joe off. Joe senses Bill may be caught in a real predicament, so later he meets with him to talk it over. They wind up becoming buddies, bonding over what happened. Two guys from different sides of the track. These men may be nothing alike in terms of social class, but they hold similar views of what society has become.
After an argument between Bill and his daughter, she runs away in shock and disgust. Bill is devastated and must get her back, so he asks Joe to offer his services. They scour the city looking for her, amongst the hippies they loathe but try to blend with in hope of getting any information leading to her discovery. Eventually they're duped by a group of teens who rip them off, but Joe and Bill, in a state of consternation, find their hideout and pay them a visit. It is there that things take a sudden turn for the worse, when both characters give in to peer pressure, coercion, and their underlying bigotry, letting it feed the actions that cause their undoing.
Also, Joe doesn't pack the same punch it did back in 1968 due to the fact that it came from the time period of the emerging counter-culture movement and acted as a story about a very right-wing and conservative man driven over the edge by his insane obsession with hippies and murderous disdain for them. This is a kind of character rarely chronicled on a film as it is a very anti-equality character with aggression with realistic lower-class language, but he isn't exactly dealt with in the best way as John G. Avildsen fails to dive into the mind of Joe Compton and relies on Peter Boyle's performance to achieve that. He uses a blank film style with simplistic cinematography and atmosphere which leaves Joe lacking any iconic features aside from the presence of its actors, Academy Award nominated screenplay and the fact that its the debut feature of Academy Award winning director John G. Avildsen. Critic Judith Crist referred to Joe as "A movie truly of our times", but times have changed and so the generation has too. Although I was luckily able to embrace Easy Rider, Joe is another case and not one I find constitutes enough to pass as a film rather than an extended monologue from a theatrical drama piece. There's nothing really notable enough to define Joe as a film, and rather risers just a long and angry story without sufficient visual stimulation.
Frankly, the battle of age has worn down Joe, and although the film features strong characters, particularly the titular Joe Compton, it itself no longer seems to maintain the same strength and is merely too boring to hold its own for 106 minutes, since about 100 of those are focused on studying characters from the counter-culture time period, particularly people embracing it and people fighting it. Although it has a strong screenplay to tell this story, its weak in being a good visual experience, as it doesn't get entertaining until the final few minutes when the famous climax occurs. But the final scene is merely a brief violent scene which isn't emphasised or explained, and merely shows one of the characters transitioning into a character more like Joe Compton than he was before, to the point where he ends up killing someone close to him. If the last scene had have been extended, took place earlier in the film or have been dramatically emphasised more, then Joe could have been a good film to this day. Alas, that is not the case.
The one thing continuing to hold Joe aloft is the acting.
Although he doesn't enter until 27 minutes in, Peter Boyle immediately steals the screen by embodying the aggressive, angry, hard working but low class American stereotypical white male flawlessly, and works strongly towards conveying aggression and anger at the changes in society as they damage him, and he keeps a certain level of intensity up in the film with his swift line delivery and domination through physicality. He makes Joe a memorable character.
Dennis Patrick also gives a charismatic performance as a human being coping with the shock of his actions
Susan Sarandon also makes a fine debut, portraying a character alternative to much of her later characters due to the sense of innocence staying strong through all the twisted situations and only shattering at the film's climax. Her sweetness and ability at emotional manipulation are put on display in Joe and used well, as well as elements of her sex appeal.
So Joe boasts a good cast, decent story and consistent screenplay, but it's excessively slow pacing and lack of story direction make it less effective today than back in 1970.
Hey Joe, where are you going with that gun in your hand?
"These goddamn nigger loving hippies, fucked up the music. If I ever get my hands on one of those little bastards...I'd kill 'em. They're getting away with murder, sex, drugs, pissing on America, fucking up the music. I'd like to kill one."-Joe Curran (Peter Boyle)
Powerful film, and the end is a jaw dropper.
Never really heard about this movie before, and I felt it was worth a watch. This is more or less a counterculture movie to all the movies coming out at the same time that was based on the liberation of the hippie movement. Peter Boyles character Joe is the very picture of intolerance, bigotry and hatred towards everything that doesn't fit into what he believes is the american way of being. Thus projecting his hate towards hippies, blacks, gays, liberals etc. And at the same time he carries a fascination about this liberated environment. The strange relationship between Bill and Joe is the drive of the movie and it makes the movie intriguing and unpredictable. Peter Boyle is quite convincing as Joe and it was nice to see a young Susan Sarandon in her first role. Yes, the movie feels slightly dated in how it has been shot, effects, somewhat dodgy acting at times, but yet it has a vibe of the period and it feels honest in that way. Interesting soundtrack as well. Note that when Peter Boyle saw audience members cheering the violence in Joe, he refused to appear in any other film or television show that glorified violence. This included the role of Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle in "The French Connection" (1971). In the 1980s, there were rumors that Peter Boyle might appear in a sequel to Joe. The sequel would follow Joe as he tried to rebuild his life after spending 10 years in prison and would also deal with his grown up kids who held more liberal beliefs. The film never materialized, however.
When Bill Comptons daughter is admitted to hospital after an overdose Compton confronts and accidentaly kills her junkie boy friend.
I a bar on the way back from the crime he meets Joe a bigoted right wing working man aho blames all of Americas current ills on the hippy ideal.
Joe Befriends Compton when he hears of his crime and shows Compton how everything they hold dear is being undermined by the love genaration.
Peter Boyle delivers an outstanding performance as the title lead Joe ,his attitudes and views are still shocking and one could only imagine what an Audience in 1970 thought ,one would say they would be split down the middle .
Joe would be a hero to the right and a pariah to the left and director John G Avilsdens shows how Joe Deals with both sides .
The film eventualy reaches its shocking conclusion and although its dated in places ,its a perfect snapshot of the state of America at that time .