The Ballad of Andy Crocker
|The Ballad of Andy Crocker|
|Written by||Stuart Margolin|
|Directed by||George McCowan|
|Music by||Billy May|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producer(s)||Aaron Spelling
|Cinematography||Henry Cronjager, Jr.|
|Running time||74 mins.|
|Production company(s)||Thomas/Spelling Productions|
|Original release||November 18, 1969|
The film tells the story of a young man's struggle to reclaim his life after fighting in the Vietnam War. It approaches a surreal, allegorical tale, similar to The Swimmer, starring Burt Lancaster. Written by actor Stuart Margolin, the film is notable as being one of the very first films to deal with the subject matter of Vietnam veterans "coming home". It is also noted for its unusual casting, which placed a number of noted musical artists in key acting roles.
Lee Majors, in his first lead acting role, stars as Andy Crocker, a soldier who is wounded in a firefight in Vietnam and awarded the Purple Heart. After leaving his best friend David (Marvin Gaye), he meets a young hippie girl (Jill Haworth) who invites him to a party. The men at the party (Peter Haskell, Stuart Margolin) do not want him present; Crocker leaves and returns their hospitality by stealing one of their motorcycles that he rides home to Dallas, Texas where he reunites with his parents (played by Pat Hingle and Claudia Bryar). Crocker says that all that kept him going during the trials of Vietnam was his dreams of running a motorcycle racing track and repair shop and marrying his sweetheart, Lisa (Joey Heatherton).
Crocker, however, soon discovers that his friends and loved ones have moved on while he was in Vietnam. Lisa has married another man (her "Dear John" letter to Andy apparently never received), and a friend entrusted to take care of the unsuccessful motorcycle track business and repair shop (Mack, played by Jimmy Dean) has made arrangements to sell it out from under Andy. An attempt at rekindling his relationship with Lisa ends in disaster.
Ultimately, Andy finds himself running afoul of Lisa's family (particularly her rich mother, played by Agnes Moorehead, who offers Andy a loan to help save the racetrack as long as he leaves town), and the law after he punches Mack for betraying him. Fleeing from the Dallas area, Andy eventually finds himself in San Francisco where he briefly reunites with his old army friend David. Afterwards, realizing he has nowhere else to go, he sits down in front of a U.S. Army Recruiting Office and waits for the doors to open.
The title of the film refers to a song (co-written by Margolin) that recurs throughout the film as "Greek chorus" to the events unfolding. Singer/songwriter Murray MacLeod sang the title song and wrote the music.
The Ballad of Andy Crocker has fallen into the public domain in North America, and is widely available on DVD. According to Allmovie, the film was intended as a pilot for a potential weekly series ("Corporal Crocker"), but no series eventuated.
- Jeremy M. Devine, Vietnam at 24 Frames a Second: A Critical and Thematic Analysis of Over 400 Films about the Vietnam War (University of Texas Press, 1999), ISBN 978-0292716018, p. 57. Excerpts available at Google Books.
- Hal Erickson, Allmovie, quoted at www.mtv.com