Mr. No Legs (1978)
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What is even more mind boggling is the array of talent behind the production: POINT BLANK's Lloyd Bochner returns as another suave, scuzzy mob boss; THE DIRTY DOZEN's Richard Jaeckel is well-cast as a police detective with a pre-LETHAL WEAPON juggernaut of destruction as a partner; B-movie legend John Agar is almost unrecognizable as the corrupt police captain who tries to undermine their investigation into a slough of mysterious heroin related deaths; writer Jack Cowden was one of the creators of the long-running TV show "Flipper"; and director Ricou Browning was not only the former swimming star inside the rubber suit of THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON & it's sequels, but was the Director of Underwater Photography & Effects from the James Bond thrillers THUNDERBALL and it's unofficial remake, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, as well as similar work on "Flipper", "Sea Hunt", and the bizarre cult item SUB-A-DUB-DUB.
But the real talent on display in this film is Ron Slinker's "Mr. No Legs", a mob enforcer who's confinement to a wheelchair is no obstacle to his ambition to rule the smack trade in whatever port town this movie was filmed in. By the tacky polyester lounge suits, side-burned hair cuts and bell bottomed pants my guess on the year of production is 1978, and I can almost see the look of bewilderment that must have crossed the faces of the distribution execs who were shown the final product, which then lingered on the shelf until 1981 for whatever reason. Put it this way: The film is un-releasable by today's standards. It is racially insensitive, dares to have fun with the idea of a mob hit-man who is a paraplegic, and couldn't give a flying hoot what anyone thinks about it. This movie is the stuff of legends and inspires thoughts like how was it allowed to be made?? Or more accurately, who on Earth would have thought this movie was a good idea?? As others have summed up, the plot is a basic police procedural investigation into the death of a couple peripherally involved in the heroin trade, peppered by what would otherwise be the usual shootouts, fistfights, rubouts, car chases and hardboiled discussion scenes such material usually involves. What makes the movie special is No Legs, a cold, remorseless killer armed with double barreled shotguns fixed to the arm rests of his wheelchair, Ninja throwing stars on the wheel hubs, and in the peak of legless physical perfection due to his rigorous exercise routines that buxom blond bombshell mob molls watch with drooling desire. He may have lost his walking legs, but he's still a Mack Daddy Hustla Pimp who can satisfy the ladies.
Two scenes in the film stand out: The first an otherwise ordinary bar fight which Jaeckel's partner interrupts. Basically every low life in the joint turns on the doughty young thickly mustachioed and side-burned lounge suit wearing cop, and by golly if he doesn't wipe the floor with them in one of the most improbable outbursts of fighting skills ever staged. What makes it even more remarkable is just as the first punches are thrown Jaeckel senses something is wrong and follows his buddy into the bar, only arriving there after 10 minutes of non-stop head cracking action. That must have been one hell of a big parking lot.
The other scene is the film's tour-de-force set piece where SIX (6) mob toughs turn on Mr. No Legs as he relaxes by the pool with his sex bomb mob moll, and with a combination of legless martial arts, various underwater fighting maneuvers and assorted hidden weapons, he smacks them all down: Watching Mr. Slinker do Jedi back flips in his chair and beat down on the bad guys with the stumps of his lower appendages is not something you will soon forget. I agree with others when stating that this movie needed more No Legs and less police procedural: The squandered opportunity of a sequel examining how No Legs arrived at his legless state, came to grips with his disabilities and got his start as a hit-man is one of the great lost cult gems that was never made. This will have to do, and if you can find it you'll be an instant convert.
To avoid any confusion let me make clear that this film is an exercise in applied bad taste made long before the term "political correctness" was even coined. It also succeeds because the story is played completely straight without any sort of schlock regarding No Legs: If it had been a smarmy tongue in cheek parodic or satiric attempt to get laughs it would have fallen flat. It is ridiculous, absurd and potentially offensive, but the film has a kind of lunkheaded endearing naiveté about it that makes it all ten times the riot it would otherwise have been if played for laughs. You just can't make 'em like this anymore, and thank heaven for that.
9/10: I could see Mondo Macabro picking this one up, they have shown a willingness to present movies on DVD that other companies would never dare bother with, and I for one would love to see a re-release just because I know how many stupid Liberal idiots would protest it.
Directed by Ricou Browning (probably best 'remembered' as the creature from The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), how do you go from being a monster in a classic horror to making an obscure film like Mr. No Legs?) & also known as The Amazing Mr. No Legs here in the UK this is one unique film that doesn't quite hit the giddy heights that it could have but none-the-less provides a certain fascination & entertainment value. The script by Jack Cowden plays the material 100% straight, is a bit on the slow side during the first 40 odd minutes & has very little of interest apart from the main title character Mr. No Legs, for most of it's duration Mr. No Legs is a standard implausible 70's cop film (in fact you could say the story doesn't have a leg to stand on, ha, ha, ha) about busting up a drug business with little to recommend it except that for some bizarre reason some absolute genius thought it would be a good idea to have a man with no legs to be the films main bad guy, he has shotguns in the arms of his wheelchair, throwing stars & retractable blades. I've never seen anything quite like it that's for sure. Unfortunately Mr. No Legs isn't actually in the film that much, he dies at least 20 minutes before the end & he only has one proper fight scene which comes as a disappointment. I don't know why but I always thought Mr. No Legs would be the hero, you know fighting against all the odds & defeating all the bad guys in his fully equipped wheelchair & when he turned out to be the bad guy I was a bit surprised as I think the film would have worked better with him as someone to root for.
Director Browning was obviously working on a low budget & the infrequent action scenes vary, some are very good & well choreographed while other's are slow & sluggish. I must mention the pretty cool car chase at the end which lasts for the whole final 15 minutes, Browning probably didn't have much to work with but he sure tried to put as much action on screen as he could. My favourite scene in the film is when Mr. No Legs is facing up to someone who wants to kill him, Mr. No Legs climbs out of his chair & puts his fists up to the guy even though without legs Mr. No Legs doesn't reach past his waist! There are several other priceless, strange, funny & bizarre moments in the film but not really enough.
Technically the film is a bit rough around the edges, it's reasonably well made but it isn't going to win any awards with bland music, cinematography & production design. The acting is pretty poor, there are lots of dodgy hair-dos & moustaches while the actor who plays Chuck the cop is a William Shatner look-a-like.
Mr. No Legs seems to be a pretty obscure & hard to find film which to be brutally honest is no great loss to the world, harsh but true. There are some neat car stunts, a few nice fight scenes & some truly memorable sequences featuring Mr. No Legs as the toughest & meanest guy in the film even though he hasn't any legs. I'm not sure whether to give it a 6 or 7, I think I'll give it 7 just because I genuinely think the filmmakers tried & it's generally good fun.