Impulse (1974) (part 2 of 7)
Next, it’s morning at a typical suburban home, and we see a slim brunette woman named Ann as she eats breakfast. She yells for her daughter Tina to come down and eat, while music reminiscent of the theme to The Dating Game blares in the background. Tina yells back, and we hear she’s got a chirpy voice that makes Penny Robinson sound throaty and masculine. Ann tells her to turn the music off (So I guess the kids were really into that Laugh-In style of music back in ’74) and come down to the table.
Eventually Tina, dressed in a goofy Strawberry Shortcake-style dress, comes down and tells her mom that her friend Julia Marstow called. Ann is surprised by this, because she didn’t hear the phone ring. “But how could I,” she says, “With all that ‘music’ going on?” Oh, come on, Mom, you know you want somebody to sock it to you.
Ann guesses that her friend just wants to gossip, to which Tina harshly replies, “Julia’s bananas!” Ann takes great umbrage at this, because Julia’s her best friend. So instead, Tina turns to mocking Julia’s friend Clarence in equally savage terms: “Clarence,” she ruminates. “That’s a clown’s name!” This is just close enough to that line in True Romance to cause me to relive fond movie-going memories.
After more time-wasting conversation and a pointless bit where Tina secretly swipes a few bucks out of her mom’s purse, we cut to Matt driving along in an outfit that apparently was made from somebody’s wallpaper. He momentarily takes his eyes off the road to light up another little cigar, and when he looks back, Tina has suddenly materialized on the road in front of him. He screeches to a halt just in the nick of time, and by “nick of time”, I mean he comes to a stop about twenty feet away from her.
Matt pokes his head out, respectfully inquiring whether she’s mentally deficient or simply has a desire to die. Tina mosies on up to the car, leans inside and says, “Well, you stopped, didn’t you?” That’s great, kid. Remember that the next time you’re roadkill.
Matt tells her to hop in and she does [??]. I suppose it’s entirely possible these two already know each other, but the movie strongly implies that this scene is happening on the same morning that Matt killed Helen and blew town. I guess this means Tina is supposed to be a misfit who accepts rides from strangers, swipes money from her mom’s purse, and calls people “clowns”. And this, ladies and gentleman, is going to be our principal protagonist.
Matt tells her she’s crazy for standing in the middle of the road, to which Tina replies that he’s crazy for smoking. Ah, from the mouths of babes, huh? Matt scoffs at this, just as Tina suddenly screams. He slams on the brakes, and the two look back and see an insert shot of a Doberman lying in some grass. Tina yells out, “You hit it!” and, seriously, I’m glad she said this, because otherwise I wouldn’t have known what just happened. For one thing, we didn’t see the dog get hit, and what’s worse, there’s no blood or anything around it. From what I can tell, the dog just looks like it’s peacefully napping. (Much as I’ll be doing on and off throughout this movie.)
Matt pokes his big head out the window and looks back at the sleeping dog. Fortunately, this isn’t “Manos” The Hands of Fate, and the two don’t sit there for three hours talking about how sinister the Doberman looks. Instead, Matt ducks back in and stomps on the gas pedal.
Tina is appalled and wants him to go back and help the dog. Matt attempts to reassure her by saying, “Dogs… lick their wounds, they clean ’em real good!” Uh, yeah. Just lick that severed leg, Rover, it’ll be fine. Matt glances back again with a queasy look on his face. “All that blood,” he notes, and I’ll just have to take his word for it. “Somebody sh… should have been watching that dog!” If he means, instead of this movie, then I’m in complete agreement.
They drive along for a little while until Tina tells him that this is her stop. As she gets out, for no apparent reason, Matt shouts, “Hey, kid!” but Tina keeps going. Don’t know what that was about. We then cut to a cemetery, where Tina is on her knees in front of a tombstone engraved with the name MOY. She touches the letters, tearfully telling the tombstone that “You’re the only one I can talk to, Dad!” In addition, he’s the only one who can sit through this whole movie without walking out.
Back at the house, Ann’s best friend Julia pays a visit, and since she’s apparently Ethel Mertz to Ann’s Lucy Ricardo, she just strolls right on in unannounced. She immediately notices a really ugly drawing of a mushroom on the wall and asks Ann if it’s new. Ann reminds her that she got it for Christmas… from Julia. “Oh, yeah,” Julia rasps. Yeah, if my taste in picking out gifts was this bad, I’d want to forget about it, too.
Julia says she came to invite Ann to dinner that night, because she wants to introduce Ann to “this divine man” (no, it’s not the Pope). Ann says she can’t make it because “the shop” is open late that night. Julia expositories that Ann doesn’t even need to own a shop, because she’s well off as it is.
Ann attempts to use her daughter as an excuse, but Julia tells her she’s got to get on with her life. Ann continues to resist, talking about what it’s like being a widow, yadda yadda yadda, how hard it’s been raising Tina alone since her husband died, blah blah blah, and how much Tina misses him. Yeah, I think we got all that when we watched her blubbering all over his gravestone.
Julia offers to reschedule for tomorrow night, promising that Ann’s really going to like this guy. “He’s a regular Burt Reynolds from the neck down!” [!!] Ann asks about the area above the neck, and Julia replies, “Well, can’t have everything!” Ladies, if your best friend ever tries to set you up with someone who doesn’t measure up to Burt Reynolds above the neck, it may be time to find new friends.
Nevertheless, Ann agrees and Julia tells her to “wear something cute for that little ol’ figure, okay?” I don’t know if she could find something cuter than the fluorescent orange gown she’s wearing now, but I guess she could try. Julia takes off and Ann sees herself in the mirror beside the door. “You’re right, Tina,” she says to her reflection. “She’s bananas!” On what planet do people actually talk like this?
We cut to a clothing rack holding a blinding array of 70’s fashions. Ann picks a wardrobe off the rack and climbs up on a display to dress a mannequin. So, either this is her shop, or Nordstrom’s security will be coming along shortly. Ann somehow loses her balance, but, conveniently, our friend Matt shows up out of nowhere and catches her. We’re then forced to endure a dumb “meet cute” moment where Ann informs Matt that “Agatha’s giving me some trouble”, with “Agatha” being her pet name for the mannequin. Matt grins and asks to buy a pack of cigarettes [?]. So I guess this is one of those combination fashion boutiques/7-Elevens I’ve been hearing so much about.
Matt pays for the cigarettes and goes to leave, telling her, “If Agatha gives you any more trouble, ask for me!” This might have made more sense had he actually said who he was. He goes to the door and gives her a long look that I think is supposed to be seductive, but with that tablecloth he’s wearing, he can’t quite pull it off. Regardless, after he leaves, Ann gets a look on her face that says, “Boy, I’d really like to fire his photon torpedo.”