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Paperback Hero

(Le coq du village)

Year: 1973
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 94 min
Director: Peter Pearson
Producer: John Bassett, James Margellos
Writer: Barry Pearson, Les Rose
Cinematographer: Don Wilder
Editor: Kirk Jones
Sound: James McCarthy
Music: Ron Collier
Cast: Margot Lamarre, George Robertson, Franz Russell, Dayle Haddon, John Beck, Elizabeth Ashley, Keir Dullea, Linda Sorensen, Ted Follows
Production Company: Agincourt Productions

Rick Dillon (Dullea) is the star hockey player in a small Saskatche­wan town but ekes out his living as a clerk in a store owned by Big Ed (Russell). Rick is a notorious womanizer and hell�€'raiser who is loved by the long�€'suffering Loretta (Ashley). He's in constant conflict with Burdock (Robertson) and considers himself to be a modern-day gunslinger, on and off the ice.

When Joanna (Haddon), Big Ed's daughter, comes home, Rick pur­sues her, all the while fending off Loretta's appeals for marriage. He ends up quitting his job at the store, and Big Ed offers him another job in different town, but it's no better than the first.

Rick's life is shaken up when Big Ed announces he's disbanding the hockey team. At the final game, Rick engineers a riot but eludes arrest. When he discov­ers Joanna has been sent out of town, he holds up her bus at gunpoint — but fails to abduct Joanna.

With his gunbelt buckled on, Rick strides down main street to challenge Burdock to a fight. Although Loretta warns him, Rick tries to take on three police officers and is shot dead.

Paperback Hero has become one of the most written about films in Canadian film history. It is characteristic of English-Canadian cinema of the early 1970s: the small-town setting; the infantile hero and his il­lusory machismo, confused identity, fantasy and eventual defeat; and women with superior moral strength. However, Paperback Hero lacked the conceptual strength of some of the contemporary films of that time. This is due, in part, to the fact that Rick's fantasy bears no organic relationship to his community. The fantasy is used merely as a device to generate action and comedy. The anecdotal structure of the film fails to gel into a cohesive whole — the film is a collection of memorable witty scenes and interesting episodes punctuated by Gordon Lightfoot’s catchy hit tune, "If You Could Read My Mind."

Paperback Hero was considered one of the best films ever made about prairie life; it received warm re­views upon its release and was a modest box office success. The film won three Canadian Film Awards for cinematography, editing and sound recording.

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