Impulse (1974) (part 3 of 7)

We abruptly cut to a shot of a guy lying in the street. He has a puddle of blood around his head, and a motorcycle tire and a Stars and Stripes helmet are nearby. On the other side of the road, Matt is sitting in his car, tapping his fingers nervously on the door frame. Just then, some white-coated paramedics come out with a stretcher, and I swear to God one of them is being played by a fat Elvis impersonator.

Impulse (1974) (part 3 of 7)

You bastards! You killed Evel Knievel!

They load the biker on the stretcher using what I hope is not standard medical practice. As they cover him with a sheet, a cop appears and tells Matt to move it along. In response, Matt starts his car [?]. In all honesty, I don’t have a clue what’s happening here. Did Matt happen upon this accident? Did he cause it? Why was he parked there? It hardly matters, because (and I’m sure this will come as a shock given the high quality of what we’ve seen so far) this little vignette will never be referenced again at any point in the movie. Still, we got to see some gratuitous blood and (presumably) a dead body, so I guess it wasn’t a total waste.

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We cut to Matt at a motel, getting a key from a slutty clerk. By the look on his face, it’s clear his room isn’t the only thing he’s interested in getting inside of. The two swap some sleazy looks, then Matt goes to the door and waits to get buzzed out. Slutty Motel Clerk, chewing her gum with her mouth wide open, begins tapping on the buzzer like she’s spelling out the Declaration of Independence in Morse Code. This leads to the following sparkling exchange of dialogue:

Matt: Your buzzer’s ringing.
Slutty Motel Clerk: You better believe it.

Next we see a shirtless Matt, lying in bed and smoking another little cigar. (Ladies, try to control yourselves.) There’s a knock on the door, and Slutty Motel Clerk enters, fondling her own belly button. She walks over and sits down next to Matt, apologizing for keeping him waiting. In response, Matt lets out a puff of smoke and then reaches around to unzip her dress. “Let’s see if it’s been worth waiting for,” he says.

In a transition that’s supposed to be ironic, or artistic, or some damn thing, we immediately cut to an old guy in a bowtie who exclaims that “It has been worth waitin’ for!” He’s behind the counter at a shop of some type, and he retrieves a small box from a shelf. His customer is Matt, and Old Bowtie Guy hands him the box which turns out to contain cards for Matt’s presumably nonexistent business.

Old Bowtie Guy reads the name off one of the business cards: “Land Developing Counseling and Investments!” Why, yes, I’ve heard of that company. It’s right next to the Medical Hospital and the Scientific Institute. Matt tells Old Bowtie Guy that a client of his “tripled his investment”, supposedly through buying land in Jamaica. Old Bowtie Guy seems interested, so Matt hands him a card.

Suddenly, Ann’s friend Julia comes in, announcing that she needs a check cashed. As it turns out, Old Bowtie Guy is Clarence, the same guy that Tina said has a “clown’s name”. This means that, so far, Matt has managed to somehow run into Ann, Clarence, Tina (almost literally), and now Julia. Given this string of coincidences, I’m guessing there are maybe twelve people living in this town.

Impulse (1974) (part 3 of 7)

It’s Steve Martin in The Jerk III: The Twilight Years.

Clarence tells Julia to cool her heels while Matt pays for his cards. Julia fumbles with her purse and drops a checkbook with her name embossed on it. Matt picks it up and addresses her as “Miss Marstow” as he hands it back to her. “Mrs. Marstow,” she corrects him, “I’m a widow.” This, of course, gets gigolo Matt all hot and bothered, but for now, he says nothing.

Clarence hands Matt his change, saying, “You come back now, ya hear?” This led me to wonder if, in the original script, these people were supposed to be small town hicks. The city they live in certainly doesn’t look all that rural, but it certainly would explain why Matt keeps bumping into people who all know each other. Matt expresses his appreciation and walks out, and Julia takes a long hard look at his posterior as he exits. But, really, what woman could possibly resist?

Julia demands to know who that was, and Clarence offers up Matt’s business card. Julia sees that he’s supposedly an investor and wants to know if he’s married. Clarence protests, “What do I look like? A fortune teller?” Well, that stupid bowtie certainly lends itself to the possibility. After Julia mooches ten dollars off Clarence, she reminds him about dinner later that night with Ann and Mr. Burt-Reynolds-from-the-Neck-Down and walks out.

As she gets into her car, Matt runs up and introduces himself. We immediately cut to a shot of Matt’s car rolling down the highway, and in a very echo-y voiceover, we hear Julia first tell Matt that she’s interested in investing, then invite him to dinner that night.

Cut to Julia’s house, where she, Clarence, and Ann are all dressed up for dinner. Julia tells Ann that she met “this divine man”, i.e., Matt, so she invited him to dinner instead of that other “divine man” she kept talking about. (I shudder to think just how non-divine that guy must have been to be replaced by Matt at the last minute.) After some lame down-home patter that makes me long for reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies, the phone rings.

Julia answers, and on the other end, we hear grunts, heavy breathing, and some gibberish that sounds vaguely filthy. “My God,” she says, putting the receiver to her chest, “It’s my first obscene phone call!” She lets Ann and Clarence listen in and they both get a good chuckle. Finally, Julia jokingly tells Mr. Obscene Phone Caller to ring her “anytime” and hangs up. I’m assuming, because the movie never bothers to make this clear, that it was Matt making this call. Just like the dead biker in the street, however, this obscene phone call is never followed up on in any shape or form. It’s almost like the director had some sort of personal sleaze quota that had to be satisfied before things could move forward.

The three share a hearty laugh about the call, and Clarence jokes, “Maybe you should’ve invited him to dinner!” Yeah, who knows, maybe that guy was like Burt Reynolds from the neck up. An instant later, some headlights appear in the window, and it’s Matt [?]. Okay, that’s impossible. There’s no way he could have gotten from a phone to the house in the ten seconds since Julia hung up. Admittedly, that might not have been Matt calling. But if it wasn’t him, who was it supposed to be? Again, I just have to file this under “sleaze quota” and let it go.

Matt enters and Julia introduces him to Ann. We immediately cut to the four of them finishing dinner, and the subject of Matt’s imaginary investment firm comes up. Clarence tells Matt he’s having second thoughts about investing because “the stock market is shaky”. Matt then starts to lay it on thick, offering forth this brilliant investment motto: “Always buy when the others are selling!” So he’s bullish, in addition to being full of bull.

Julia then gets the bright idea to leave Matt and Ann alone together, so she asks that she and Clarence be excused. As they leave, Julia tells Clarence she wants him to see how she’s had the den “done over” and mentions how she met a male interior decorator who’s (what else) “divine”. (For a moment, I thought she was about to set Clarence up with the interior decorator. I mean, Clarence is kind of effeminate, and Julia does sort of look like Liza Minelli in that fag-haggish sort of way. Sadly, this will never be followed up on, either.)

Julia’s crafty scheme pays off as Matt and Ann get a little closer with Arrid Extra Dry. Matt jokingly asks how Agatha the mannequin is behaving herself. Ann replies that “She’s been a living doll!” Um… nope, still not cute. And not terribly funny, either. Matt smirks and says, “Actually, I was hoping she’d give me a little more trouble [?].” Sorry, Matt. That line might work on Orion slave girls, but it’s not doing much for you here.

Ann learns he’s new to the area and wants to know if he’ll be staying in town long. “It depends,” Matt says, “On Agatha!” According to the Surgeon General, listening to insipidly “cute” banter can drastically shorten your lifespan, so let’s just forget the rest of this conversation and move on.

Clarence and Julia emerge from the den and Ann says she has to call it a night. Matt walks her out, and as soon as they leave, Julia turns and finds Clarence suddenly passed out [?] in an armchair. She regards him dismissively, then takes his drink and finishes it off. “C’est la vie!” she says. That’s French for “I sure won’t be getting laid tonight!”

Impulse (1974) (part 3 of 7)

A candid photo from Liza and David’s honeymoon.

Outside, Matt and Ann are standing beside Ann’s car. She thanks him for putting up with “Julia’s gift of gab” and Matt replies, “We don’t need gab.” Then he plants a big wet one on her. No, I think we need gab. Gab is good. More gab, please!

Soon Ann arrives home to find Tina waiting up in her room. Tina asks, “So what kind of clown did she have for you this time?” (I sure wish Tina would find herself in Goodfellas so she can make the mistake of calling Joe Pesci that.) Ann tells her she met a guy she liked and that she’ll be seeing him again on Sunday. Tina immediately starts whining that Sunday is the day they’re both supposed to go to the cemetery and hang out with dear old dad. When Ann makes the fateful mistake of admitting she “forgot”, this gives Tina license to switch into ABC Afterschool Special mode: “I know! You forgot him the minute he died!” Ann tells Tina that, in essence, she’s cruising for a bruising, then switches off the light and storms out.

Multi-Part Article: Impulse (1974)

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