It was July 1972. While “Deliverance” tore up the box office and convinced a generation of potential tourists to reconsider their upcoming trips to the American South, another film made the rounds and hardened square mellows for completely different reasons. Or at least for mostly different reasons.
“Greaser’s Palace” is hard to pin down. Its subject is designed to disturb. An artist with no memory of his origins arrives at a border town and begins to perform very biblical miracles, dancing over the top of the water and reviving the dead. There is also, and this is inevitable, a significant amount of constipation wrapped up in the plot. As we may have suggested, it was not a movie designed to be a light watch.
Needless to say, “Greaser’s Palace” received critical analysis that ran the color scale. Some reviewers saw it as a brilliant piece of counterculture cinema that was capable of changing minds and hearts if given the opportunity. Others were less enthusiastic – New York Times rejected the film’s fate of an estimated $ 1 million budget and speculated that “a few years ago, Downey could have made a few dozen films with that money.”
In any case, it should come as no surprise that “Greaser’s Palace” spread across the acceptance line, maintaining a 50% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes almost 50 years after its debut.