MR NO LEGS (1978) – Ted Vollrath, a Korean War veteran who lost his legs due to injuries he suffered during the conflict, became a multiple black belt in martial arts disciplines and established Martial Arts for the Handicapable Incorporated in 1971. In addition to appearing in a documentary titled Let Me Live In Your World he starred as a scene-stealing badass in Mr No Legs, which was also released under titles like Killers Die Hard, Pushers Die Hard, Dope Runners Die Hard and the much less descriptive Gun Fighter.
Mr No Legs is nowhere near as outrageous as the Hong Kong kung fu movies Crippled Masters, Crippled Heroes and Crippled Avengers, nor is it as exploitative as those flicks. Vollrath plays Lou, the title character, whose wheelchair is equipped with built-in shotguns in the arm rests and Ninja stars connected to the wheels.
Lou himself is deadly in or out of his chair, as he is highly skilled with knives and handguns, but his most dangerous trait is the way he can use his muscular, toned body to kick the butts of all comers in unarmed combat. Lou’s status as the enforcer and hit man for a Tampa drug lord has earned him big money and a buxom blonde lady who sees to his various needs.
A real-life multiple amputee with a James Bond-gimmicked wheelchair and mastery of karate would be enough to ensure Mr No Legs a spot in Psychotronic movie Valhalla, but the film offers so much more.
Consider the following:
“MY BOSS WAS ALREADY ON THE SCENE” – All of the musical stings and cues from this movie sound like the intentionally melodramatic ones from the old Police Squad comedy series.
THE FLIPPER CONNECTION – This flick’s writer Jack Cowden and director Ricou Browning were behind the 1960s television series Flipper. Luke Halpin, the young star of Flipper, plays a drug pusher in Mr No Legs. For even more trivia, Ricou Browning was the man in the creature costume in the original Creature from the Black Lagoon.
THE HOWARDS – Rance Howard, father of Ron and Clint and grandfather of Dallas Bryce Howard, is in the crucial role of “Lou’s Sidekick.” In that capacity Rance oversees the D’Angelo drug empire’s racket of smuggling cocaine and other drugs by concealing them in loose leaves of tobacco and in cigars. (Tampa was literally known as Cigar City, after all.)
“LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON. THINK ABOUT IT, WON’T YOU?” – D’Angelo the drug kingpin hides his illegal activities behind his role as a big business man. D’Angelo is portrayed by Lloyd Bochner, father of Hart Bochner, the coke-head in Die Hard.
MR SHIRLEY TEMPLE – B-Movie legend John Agar, the ex-husband of Shirley Temple herself, plays Police Captain Hathaway. In an interview with Mike Weldon’s publication Psychotronic, Agar claimed he never got his pay for this role.
NO HECKLE, JUST JAECKEL – Richard Jaeckel, a very familiar face in everything from major motion pictures to grade Z productions like this, stars as Chuck the cop. Chuck has the distinction of being in the most shots where the lighting seems to come and go in this less than first rate cinematic effort. (The focus is unreliable, too, adding to the laughs.)
THE ROCK – Wrestler Ron Slinker, who in later years worked with the young, up and coming Dwayne Johnson, co-stars as Andy the cop, Chuck’s partner. At one point, a fellow cop of Chuck and Andy takes a felon away with the friendliest sounding “Let’s go, scum” you’ll ever hear! Ned Flanders, Tampa PD! Andy’s apartment boasts a kinky angora floor-bed for him and his ESL girlfriend Margo, who says things like “clock and dagger” instead of cloak and dagger. Margo also mentions being unsatisfied with Andy’s performance in bed.
If all that isn’t enough for you, how about Lou/ Mr No Legs’ thoroughly bizarre underworld hangout, which boasts regular customers like a drag queen, a black midget and assorted drug dealers. This dive is the site of an odd black vs white race rumble after some slurs are thrown around. Mr No Legs puts an end to the chaos in his inimitable way.
Plus there’s a sword-wielding crook who carves up a Corvette and a fly who makes the kind of cameo appearance that Alfred Hitchcock would envy.
You still want more? How about the musical act Mercy, featuring a male-female singing duo who are dressed like the weirdest Prom King and Queen in history. Mercy performs I Still Remember Love and the end credits song Killers Die Hard.
A viewer can’t help but feel spoiled when Mr No Legs also provides a half-assed story, too. We see the low-level D’Angelo employees who conceal drugs in cigars and tobacco leaves under the watchful eyes of Rance Howard. When two of those laborers try skimming some of the narcotics to start their own side business, Lou (Mr No Legs) is having none of it and uses his armrest shotguns to blow them both away.
Soon one of the organization’s drug dealers, Luke Halpin, stupidly lets his girlfriend find his cache of drugs to peddle. In the ensuing argument he shoves her, causing her hilarious off-camera death as we are led to believe that her head went through the television screen as she fell, thus killing her. (?)
Halpin informs his superiors, and Mr No Legs shows up with Rance Howard to transport the dead woman’s body elsewhere to be found. When the hapless Luke admits that his late girlfriend’s brother is Andy the cop (Ron Slinker), our incensed title character blows Luke away, too.
Because this is a bad movie, Andy is assigned to investigate his sister’s murder alongside his partner Chuck (Richard Jaeckle). These cops have some strange departmental policies.
Or maybe their boss, Captain Hathaway (John Agar), was just assuming the two lunkheads wouldn’t come up with anything, anyway. At one point Andy even loses his service revolver and never finds it during the rest of the film. Chuck and Andy’s investigation goes nowhere until, for some moronic reason, Rance Howard and one of his cronies try to STEAL LUKE HALPIN’S BODY FROM THE POLICE MORGUE!
I have no idea what those fools thought they would accomplish, but their failed attempt provides the formerly clueless Chuck and Andy with the first connection between the murders of Andy’s sister and the pusher Luke Halpin.
The investigation goes on from there, amid many action scenes. The best ones involve Ted Vollrath plus his wheelchair arsenal and uncanny karate skills. In one such scene Mr No Legs, who wants to take over D’Angelo’s empire for himself, mops up a group of goons who are sent to kill him.
In an unbelievable fight scene set in and out of a nearby swimming pool our title figure comes out on top. Our title figure throws his body around with giddy abandon, kicking butt and using his butt to kick ass.
We get a major twist near the end as it turns out that Captain Hathaway is in the pocket of D’Angelo’s crime syndicate, and the dirty cop winds up shooting to death Mr No Legs during a shootout at a warehouse. With nearly 15 minutes left to go, our title character is gone for good.
Almost that entire final 15 minutes is spent on a fairly odd chase scene staged by Joie Chitwood and the Danger Angels. This lengthy chase is unintentionally hilarious at times, as John Agar is clearly being filmed pretending to drive in an unmoving vehicle (just look out the car’s rear window) while supposedly being pursued by Chuck, Andy and a slew of police cars.
A mobile home which is in the process of being transported gets its own theme music when it shows up during the interminable chase. If you’re tired of car chase tropes like panes of glass and carts full of melons, this film shows some originality by having its conclusion caused by enormous blocks of ice getting in the way of John Agar’s vehicle.
At any rate, as Agar and his hairpiece breathe their last, he seeks to atone for his criminal deeds by handing over to Chuck and Andy his little black book full of dates and names of D’Angelo’s drug deals and customers.
Mr No Legs is a one-of-a-kind movie and is filled with weird action set pieces and some interesting Tampa locations. Obviously it’s not for the easily offended, however.
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