Linda Haynes and Rolling Thunder - an actress worth a retrospective.
Quentin Tarantino likes to revitalise actors from film classics. His time working in a video shop gave him the opportunity to see films that are otherwise not very well known to todays Netflix and other popular streaming outlets. He not only knows them well but his film sets often pay homage to the films of the 70s and 80s. Today's pop streaming culture caters to a whole generation of young film fans do not have the opportunity to enrich their knowledge of film with cult classics. Tarantino can't rediscover everyone. Two actors he has helped are not my favorites - John Travolta (Saturday Night Fever 1977 to Pulp Fiction 2004) and Christophe Walz (nothing comes to mind from before to Inglorious Basterds (2009). They will always have Tarantino to thank for their rebooted careers.
When it comes to female actors Tarantino brought Pam Grier to the forefront in Jackie Brown (1997) who was a vital presence in B films such as Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974). She has remained current in an entourage of TV series since the 70's such as The L Word and really did not need Tarantino.
In 1977 Paul Shrader wrote a mesmerizing script for the film Rolling Thunder directed by William Flynn starring William Devane, Tommy Lee Jones and Linda Haynes. Haynes who was brilliant in this film worked through the 70's and 80's including Coffy and later retired to become a legal secretary. There are so many female actors who ' retire' from the screen since the shelf life is nearly as short as a ballerina. Her solid acting abilities deviates from male actors made new by Tarantino. He has written about her enthusiastically but didn't put her in any films.
Linda plays Linda Forchet, a barmaid at a local pool hall who has the honor of delivering $2555 worth of silver dollars for every day that US Air Force Major Charles Rane (William Devane) spent as a POW in Vietnam. The major and US Army Master Sergeant Johnny Vohden return home to San Antonio to the airfield in Texas and to a crowd of flag waving citizens. While away Rane's wife has taken up with the local sherif who calls his son a 'runt' and was a toddler when he left.
Rane runs into Linda with no fireworks going off for him but she has worn a bracelet the entire time he was held prisoner and tortured in Vietnam. Baddies from Mexico invade Rane's home to get the coins, kill his wife and boy and put his arm in the garbage disposal. Rane asks Linda to go on a road/revenge trip with him in his shiny red Cadillac that was given to him on his return. Her endurance during this time and her perseverance in trying to steer Rane away from violence while maintaining her self-respect is a powerful performance. She gets left at a motel and forgotten after a shootout with Rane, Johnny Vohden and the Mexican bandits. While Rane and Vohden are back in their saddle from their war days alleviating for a period of time their post-traumatic stress, Haynes shines brightly in Rolling Thunder. Film critic Molly Haskell wrote:
"The men... come off better than the women because they are excused from ever uttering a word. Linda Haynes, who was so exciting and authentically rural in Robert Mulligan's Nickel Ride, has that most thankless role of the adoring and impossibly patient woman who must babble on to fill the silences."
When looking back on Rolling Thunder Haynes role serves as a meditation on violence in an otherwise bloody tale. Such devotion and care to the spoils of war makes a chilling statement that endures long after the carnage.