Cleveland International Film Festival } April 7 – April 20, 2021

JUST, MELVIN

Year: 2000
Country: United States
Run Time: 96 minutes

A jackhammer gut-punch of a documentary, James R. Whitney's confessional feature is a family album from hell starring his own dynasty of dysfunction. Imagine a V.C. Andrews horror paperback inbred with David Lynch, John Waters, and Luis Bunuel. Rape, murder, suicide, addiction, incest, genetic damage, karaoke, auto mechanics, and TV game shows. Whitney's once-lusty grandma, now withered, bedridden, and possibly tortured by her, uh, caregiver, was married five times (but "only four different guys," she assures). One of the prizes she brought home was Melvin Just, junkyard owner, Bible reader, and avid child molester whose sick appetites engulfed their extended Pacific Northwest family beginning in the 1950s. Authorities were unable or unwilling to interfere, and now Just's relatives and casualties litter the region, drunk in trailer parks, turning tricks, and/or fantasizing about different ways to kill the man who rotted the family tree. James and his mother escaped the worst, the boy into show business, appearing repeatedly on "Star Search" and now wielding a movie camera, the weapon by which he hopes to Get Even with Granddad. But even as aunts and uncles spew hateful accusations against wheelchair-bound Melvin Just, James underestimates how much hold the old guy still has, and the wrenching finale perverts ?family values? worse than any political candidate yet.

Screenplay
James Ronald Whitney.

Director
James Ronald Whitney

Producer
James Ronald Whitney.

Cinematography
John Taggart.

Editing
Connie Walsh, James Ronald Whitney.

Principal Cast
Narrator: James Ronald Whitney.

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