With news of Jonathan Demme’s passing, Arkansas Times movie reviewer Guy Lancaster called our attention to the acclaimed director’s work on a film called “Fighting Mad,” which was filmed in parts of rural Washington County, with scenes shot in Fort Smith, Clarksville and Fayetteville.
Local people played small parts, and Gino Franco, a local child, had a major role as the hero’s young son. In the DVD commentary, Corman and Demme note as major assets the film’s attractive locations; the cinematography by Michael Watkins (credited) and Tak Fujimoto (uncredited due to union rules); and the local color, including Ozarks music. The final shootout was staged in a house designed by Arkansas architect Fay Jones.
A Variety (April 28, 1976) reviewer wrote that the “totally predictable” film “doesn’t waste time on rounded characters or motivational development, but delivers its full quota of explosions, car chases, stabbings and other turn-ons for the vigilante mentality that seems to have appeal today.” The reviewer notes that “Demme has a good eye for visual detail” and concludes that the “best thing about the film is the moody lensing [photography] of Michael Watkins, which brings out the alluring qualities of the land.”