THE JOE DON BAKER HOLIDAY ROWDY ROUNDUP
The BK Basement
What is it? A celebration of all the times and fond memories brought out during the 12 Days of Joe Don Baker.
Best aliases used by JDB:
1.) Deputy Sheriff Thomas Jefferson Geronimo III (Final Justice)
2.) Walkaway Madden (Checkered Flag or Crash)
3.) Wishbone Cutter (Demon of Shadow Mountain)
4.) Molly (Charley Varrick)
5.) Muffy (Goldeneye)
Worst Country/Western songs:
1.) “Walking Tall” Johnny Mathis (Walking Tall)
2.) “The Sound of Justice”, “You Better Run”, “Look At Me Dancin’” Bill Scott (Final Justice).
3.) “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” The Band (Demon of Shadow Mountain)
4.) “Mitchell” Hoyt Axton (Mitchell)
5.) “Checkered Flag or Crash” Harlan Sanders (Checkered Flag or Crash)
- Not a Country/ Western song, but definitely deserves a mention:
“Joysticks” Ray Knehnetsky (Joysticks)
Best JDB Moments:
1.) Junior Bonner: Punching out Steve McQueen, that’s just straight up badass
2.) The Living Daylights/ Goldeneye/ Tomorrow Never Dies: Showing up in three Bond films is downright impressive, playing two different characters in them is even better.
3.) Cape Fear: Getting strangled with piano wire by Robert De Niro in drag
4.) Mitchell: Starting (and losing) a shouting match with a 12-year-old
5.) Charley Varrick: JDB’s extra crispy exit from the film is the punch line to a great dark comedy.
Best JDB Temper Tantrum:
Walking Tall: Though the movie is pretty much a giant JDB temper tantrum, the courtroom scene where JDB tears his shirt off is the highlight.
Biggest Crime Against Humanity (aka JDB sex scene)
Mitchell: Though Golden Needles is a close second, JDB’s use of his prehensile feet to grab a loose six-pack mid-coitus seals the deal.
Best JDB Action Scene:
1.) Golden Needles: JDB running through the streets being chased by hundreds of people is one of the most bizarre and awesome things I’ve ever seen.
2.) Curse of Demon Mountain: Not really an action scene, but JDB declaring “If it bleeds we can kill it” while being hunted Predator style in the woods by a Native American Demon.
3.) Golden Needles: The Mel Brooks-esque fight scene that puts Blazing Saddles to shame.
4.) Mitchell: Mitchell getting tossed a shotgun from a helicopter and quickly dispatching some bad guys on dirt bikes is actually pretty badass
5.) Walking Tall: The whole movie is pretty much JDB action scenes, but they all end with him getting his ass kicked and usually hospitalized. So why it isn’t #1 on this list I don’t know.
The Fine Dining of JDB:
1.) The Living Daylights: The lobster JDB tears into like a Christmas present
2.) Cape Fear: The “stake-out special” Jim Bean and Pepto-Bismol
3.) Junior Bonner: Lots and lots of Wild Turkey
4.) Final Justice: Maalox
5.) Charley Varrick: Molly’s very specific breakfast demands
The Girls of JDB:
1.) Golden Needles: The Jabba the Hutt/ Dolly Parton abomination that runs a Casino.
2.) Bond Girls! They count right?
3.) Final justice: Patrizia Venantini, the poor Maltese girl tasked with fawning over JDB’s super sized antics.
4.) Junior Bonner: Ida Lupino (Elvira Bonner), great actress, better name
5.) The Demon of Shadow Mountain: Sondra Locke (Drusilla Wilcox) aside from the awful name, she has the most rewarding moment for any of the women in these films.
Best Sums up the 12 Days of JDB Moment:
Mitchell: Mitchell getting his ass kicked and a trashcan dumped on his head cueing up Hoyt Axton’s theme song, sums up the tone and type of character JDB played throughout his career and made him the cultural phenomenon he is today.
The JDB Rowdy Roundup: Conclusions
So what did we learn from all of this? What was the purpose behind looking into the career of a middling Texas character actor? I think we in the BK Basement can say that while we do enjoy us some JDB and his goofy acting style, only a few of these films are fit for human consumption. There were some great hidden gems (Charley Varrick), missed opportunities from cinematic masters (Junior Bonner), hell JDB ended up playing a James Bond villain and ally, which is enough for us to merit looking into his career. I think the films that JDB worked best in are the ones that are the more self-aware of his character. JDB seemed to have as much fun poking fun at himself and the type of characters he played as he did making films like Walking Tall.
It took us days and weeks to try to figure out JDB’s appeal and who the films he headlined appealed to. In the end, cheap romance novel enthusiasts were what we came up with. Most of these films seem to follow the composition of cheap romance novel; women fawn over his muscled physique as fast as they laugh at his more ‘curvy’ features. He can seduce and intimidate a woman at the same time, with a charm that borders on sexist and abusive. His characters tend to have high morals, but are also dumpy drunks. His oafish antics mixed with tough guy machismo make him an approachable character that has a strange appeal.
We wished JDB stuck with the more interesting roles he had early in his career instead of branching off into the B-Movie world of low-budget action films. Though some of those are good (many not intentionally) it’s a shame that he didn’t get more out of his career before he turned into a parody of himself in lame films like Final Justice (though that did lead to him as a James Bond Villain) .
Overall JDB’s bumbling antics and goofy demeanor made enough of these films enjoyable. It also led us to find some hidden gems, and in turn to immortalize JDB in the BK Basement, right next to our shrine for Sam Jones from Flash Gordon. So take that for what it is.