"Her Mind Was the Most Erotic and Dangerous Part of Her Body."
... so read the US posters for Georges Lautner's largely forgotten ROAD TO SALINA (1970), which lingers, if at all, in the popular memory as an embarrassment made by an aging Rita Hayworth shortly before her retirement from the screen. I watched it tonight, for the first time uncut, and can't figure out why it has acquired such a low reputation.
It still awaits its DVD debut, so you can only see it via an old Charter Entertainment VHS or DVD-R, where it's badly cropped and less than smoothly dubbed, so that works against it... and yes, at 52, Rita Hayworth is no longer GILDA, but that's not the movie we're watching. Rita's actually fine, playing a delusional woman in middle age, sick with loneliness, who mistakes a young drifter for her son, missing for the past four years; Robert Walker Jr. (the son of one of Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, fresh from his near catatonic appearance in the commune sequence of EASY RIDER) is very watchable as the boyish, spaced-out protagonist with Clint Eastwood's DIRTY HARRY haircut, who decides to take a break from his bad luck and be mothered for awhile... but he soon gets sistered too. Mimsy Farmer is electrifying as the sexy, teeth-baring, peroxide pixie whose free and faux-incestuous ways tempt Walker to stick around for awhile in a "hot box" in the middle of nowhere.
I would argue that ROAD TO SALINA is exactly what a Seventies film noir properly was and should have been: the depiction of a steamy Venus Fly Trap that you or I might easily wander into, and not be too quick to extract ourselves from -- not another second-hand gumshoe story set in a Hollywood B-movie version of the 1940s.