he Traveling Executioner is a classic film, considered a Dark Comedy, starring Stacey Keach, and Bud Cort .... the main two characters. Directed by Jack Smight ....
It takes place in 1918 in the south, those were the days, when any job was a good job. Stacy Keach plays Jonas Candide, an ex carny, who travels around the south, in a cherub decorated truck, transporting an electric chair and generators, from one prison to the next, paid $100.00 per execution that he performs, with Bud Cort as his sidekick, learning the trade.
Candide, (Keach) is seduced by a woman he is set to execute, he falls in love, and searches for a means to be able to give her enough of a jolt, as to make her seem dead, but to be able to bring her back to life, and finding a Doc Prittle (Graham Jarvis) who agrees to help him in this venture, though the cost is high, beyond Candide's simple means.
In his journey to acquire the required funds, Candide leans to a life of crime, and on his first outing, robbing a bank, he is forced to shoot a guard, is caught, and sentenced to death, fated to be executed in his own chair, with Bud Cort at the controls.
What makes this film, so amazing, is Candide's compassion for those he executes, telling each person, a story about a former client who he had put in the chair, who contacted him through a psychic to thank him. As he straps the convicted into the chair he proceeds to tell the story of this former client .... happy, as he in death, had gone to the idylic place, 'The Fields of Ambrosia".
As the switch is about to be pulled, the person sentenced to die, and sitting in the chair, has a smile on his face, imagining himself in "The Fields of Ambrosia" where every need was immediatly cared for. 'Hold your hand out, with thirst and immediately in your hand is a golden goblet, filled with the finest wine nectar. Have a sexual urge, young virginal nymphs are at your side, willing and eager to please you.'
This film was well directed, well acted, another example of Stacy Keach's genius. While rated a Dark Comedy .... I found it more a Dark drama. Not only an example of a tough era in american history, but a well written love story, that rivals all and any written since.
But the hook for me, was the compassion of Candide .... telling the story of The Field's of Ambrosia .... calming the fears, of those about to go into the unknown, death and in the end, repeating the story to himself .... so each might pass with no fear, and maybe a smile.
By: orion bennett
This film speaks in a talented manner, of America and the hardships in the early 1900's. It speaks of love, a love that goes beyond that seen in romance films. It speaks of compassion, for the fear most people have, when facing the certainty of death, and the uncertainty of the hereafter.
Very rarely does a film get seen once, and makes a strong impression, so strong, that it is unforgettable.
I only saw it once, on broadcast television in the mid 70's, and I can still see and remember each and every detail of the film, like I saw it yesterday, which says a lot about a film, in the 70's prior, or since.
As part of an agreement with the state for filming rights, filmmakers were supposed to have demolished the prison's massive walls with pyrotechnics during/after the film. However, the walls were so thick, three charges failed to do the job, and their remnants stayed around for years afterward.
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The Traveling Executioner was filmed at Alabama's then recently closed Kilby Prison off of Coliseum Blvd. in Montgomery.
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Not Available on DVD|
Not Available on DVD|
The score by Jerry Goldsmith was thankfully released by Filmscore Monthly. Tracklisting as follows:
1. Main Title
2. Fields of Ambrosia
3. He Ain't Dead/The Fee
4. Paint Job
5. New Client
6. Missing Chair
7. Lawyer/Short Circuited
8. Sight to Behold
9. Past History
10. Special Treat
12. Experiment/Late Work/The Loser
13. Unwelcome Visitor
15. Fields Revisited
16. End Title
Soundtrack Available: On CD
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