Crime Films


THE TOWN. Warner Bros., 2010. Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite. Adapted from Chuck Hogan’s 2004 novel Prince of Thieves. Director: Ben Affleck. Currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

   It begins with a bank heist in Boston. Well-choreographed, with director Ben Affleck in full control of a fluid situation, The Town starts off with unbridled action. It sparks and sizzles with furious electricity, reminiscent of other bank robbery/heist films, most notably Michael Mann’s Heat (1995). And with a few exchanged glances between robber and captive, the plot becomes clear. This is primarily to be a movie about the relationship between a bank robber and the female assistant bank manager whom he forced into opening the vault at gunpoint. That will form the core of the tale yet to unfold.

   Ben Affleck, who stars as well directs, portrays “Doug” MacRay, a long-term resident of the Charlestown section of north Boston, with the city almost becoming a fundamental character in the list of players. He, along with his friend Jem Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), were raised in near poverty in the townie Irish neighborhood and now lead a crew of thieves. Reporting to local kingpin Fergie Colm (Pete Postlethwaite), they are skilled professionals who are willing to use threats of violence to achieve their objectives.

   All this begins to change when Doug begins to fall for his former hostage Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). Although he initially follows her around to see what she knows about the bank robbery he took part in, Doug slowly begins to imagine getting out of his life of crime and creating a new one with her. Complicating matters is Doug’s former flame, oxycontin addict Kris Coughlin (an underutilized Blake Lively), who also happens to be Jem’s sister. Not to mention the two persistent local FBI agents on his trail.

   Overall, this is a solid crime drama – with the emphasis on drama. Although there are action sequences, including a suspenseful third act robbery sequence filmed on location near Fenway Park, the film’s primary focus is on the relationships between the characters. While the complicated relationship between Doug and Claire is the central focus of the story, Doug’s decidedly mixed feelings toward his father also plays a prominent role in the narrative.

   Unfortunately, what prevents this heist film from being anything overly exceptional is the film’s reliance on too many outworn tropes. The forced sentimentalism designed to make the viewer feel sympathy for Doug occasionally feels cheap.

   Without giving anything away, let’s just say that the final ten minutes or so of the movie in particular feels artificial. It’s not that what you see couldn’t have happened; rather, it’s the way that it’s visually presented that could feel grating, especially to crime film aficionados. The ending feels at once tragically inevitable and completely out of left field. Similarly, it’s somehow off-putting to have such an ambiguously tidy ending to an emotionally messy and nuanced film.

   Affleck is a skillful director who gets the most out of his exceptionally talented cast, including Victor Garber (Alias), who has a brief cameo as a hostage, and veteran character actor Chris Cooper who portrays his incarcerated father. There are some flourishes that I found distracting, such as his tendency to repeatedly use drone footage of Boston to remind the viewer where the film was set (as if anyone would forget?) and his decision to employ grimy black and white cinematography for flashbacks.

   But don’t let that stop you from watching this one. Affleck’s immersion in his character, Boston accent and all, is near complete. Directing oneself is not always the humblest of tasks. He pulls it off with sincerity.




CAST A CROOKED SHADOW. Associated British-Pathé, UK, 1958; Warner Brothers, US, 1958. Richard Todd, Anne Baxter, Herbert Lom, Alexander Knox. Director: Michael Anderson. Available on DVD.

   Kimberly Prescott (Anne Baxter) is a young South African heiress of a diamond company living in a Spanish villa. She has had a trying year: her father had committed suicide while her brother, Ward, is believed to have died in a car accident. One night, there arrives a man (Richard Todd) who claims to be her late brother. Kimberly is angry with what she considers to be a distasteful joke.

   The man is insistent, however, and can back up his claims with photographs and a detailed knowledge of their shared childhood. He swiftly installs himself in Kimberley’s villa and into her life, while local inspector Vargas (Herbert Lom) remains confused and concerned. Everyone considers Kimberley to be mad and even she begins to doubt herself. And then she realises her life is in danger.

   This 1958 thriller riffs on one of the most intriguing of old chestnuts – the long-lost relative who may be an imposter, which was also the premise to Golden Age writer Josephine Fey’s 1949 novel Brat Farrar. Director Michael Anderson gives us a suspenseful, gothic melodrama which keeps the viewers wondering just how it will end. Richard Todd, who had just appeared in Yangtse Incident for Anderson, makes his character casual, creepy and occasionally even considerate, while Anne Baxter remains on the right side of hysterical. She does much of the heavy lifting here, appearing in most scenes, and maintains a difficult balance between anxiety and determination, while never appearing weak.

   Of particular mention is Herbert Lom, surely one of the most underrated actors of his generation, who remains sympathetic as Vargas. He is intrigued and suspicious, but stymied by Ward’s plausible explanations. There’s also a quite excellent twist in the tale, which should not be considered too much beforehand.

   This was another I saw on the Talking Pictures TV channel, on Christmas Day, and it was better than many current TV offerings. Anyone wanting a cosily creepy evening viewing, in the Daphne du Maurier tradition of clifftop terror, will do well to check this out.

Rating: *****



HIS KIND OF WOMAN. RKO, 1952. Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Vincent Price, Tim Holt, Raymond Burr, and Jim Backus. Written by Frank Fenton and Jack Leonard. Directed by John Farrow and Richard Fleischer (uncredited.) Available on DVD and for rent from Vudu and Amazon Prime, among others.

RICHARD FLEISCHER – Just Tell Me When to Cry. Carroll & Graf, hardcover, 1993.

   I always thought of HIS KIND OF WOMAN as a lop-sided little movie, no great shakes, but modestly enjoyable. I went out with a girl like that once. Then I read Fleischer’s memoir, and now I see it in a whole different light. A good book can do that for you.

   Briefly, WOMAN deals with the travails of Dan Milner (Robert Mitchum) a down-on-his-luck gambler lured to a Mexican resort where everyone seems to be playing a part, except for the one genuine actor, Mark Cardigan (Vincent Price.)

   Turns out the whole thing has been engineered by deported gangster Raymond Burr, who means to kill Mitchum and enter the country under his name. Yeah, it sounds over-complicated to me, too. I mean how hard can it be to get a slightly irregular passport? But that’s the story, and Bob ends up on Ray’s yacht, tied, tortured, running, fighting, running, shooting, running, ducking, and generally making mayhem in some remarkably grim moments, fraught with tension—

   –Or they would be, except that the movie keeps cutting back to Vincent Price and his genuinely funny attempts at rescue. The comedy works, the grim stuff works, but side by side, they keep undercutting each other. I kind of like it myself, but I have to say on any objective level it just doesn’t work.

   So like I say, I always thought of this as a fun little misfire, till I read Richard Fleischer’s engaging memoir, JUST TELL ME WHEN TO CRY, which devotes a whole chapter to WOMAN and reveals that the damn thing cost almost a million dollars.

   It seems director John Farrow finished this film, and like all RKO movies at the time, it went to studio owner Howard Hughes to be screened before release. Hughes thought the ending could be punched up a little, so he called Fleischer in, and Fleischer agreed, maybe it could. So Hughes made some suggestions, Fleischer fleshed them out, producer Robert Fellows added on to the yacht set, Hughes came up with more ideas, Fleischer did his thing, Fellows added on to the yacht, more ideas, more yacht, more funny business with Vincent Price, more shooting, more ideas….

   By the time they finished (they thought) the make-believe yacht filled the biggest soundstage at RKO, Vincent Price held a mock birthday party to celebrate his first year on the picture, Bob Mitchum went on a set-smashing rampage, Lee Van Cleef was judged unsuitable as the main heavy (Remember, the film was finished when this was decided.) an exhaustive search turned up Robert J Wilke as a replacement but after a few days work, Raymond Burr was hired on a whim from Hughes to re-shoot all the original footage done by Wilke and Van Cleef.

   But at length Fleischer and Fellows screened the new ending, with the extensive and expensive yacht scenes, for their Boss – who wanted it all redone because the boarding ladder was on the wrong side!

   Now I never take any memoir as gospel — the form just allows too many temptations to promote oneself and settle old scores — but JUST TELL ME WHEN TO CRY can be read for sheer outrageous entertainment. Fleischer’s accounts of working with Walt Disney, Kirk Douglas, Rex Harrison and Howard Hughes (to name just a few) are laugh-out-loud funny, and he pauses now and then for pithy observations like:

      “Hope deceives more people than cunning ever could.”

      “Directing is a democratic process in which everyone does just as I tell them to do.”


      “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled.”

   That last one seems particularly apt these days. And it’s just a sample from a book (and movie) I highly recommend.



GERALD BUTLER – Mad with Much Heart. Rinehart & Co., hardcover, 1946. Originally published in the UK by Jarrolds, hardcover, 1945.

ON DANGEROUS GROUND. RKO, 1952. Robert Ryan, Ida Lupino, Ward Bond, Sumner Williams, Charles Kemper, Ed Begley, Ian Wolfe, Cleo Moore and Olive Carey. Screenplay by A.I. Bezzerides and Nicholas Ray. Directed by Nicholas Ray. Currently available for streaming on TCM.

    I was much impressed with Butler’s first novel, Kiss the Blood Off My Hands, and While Mad with Much Heart isn’t quite as well-built, there’s still much to be glad of. It’s a terse chase story, set in the snow-bound English countryside, with Inspector James Wilson detailed from Scotland Yard to help the locals pursue a mad killer who has attacked two schoolgirls. As the story spins out, though, Wilson has less trouble with the killer than he has dealing with the vengeance-crazed father of one of the girls, with the killer’s blind sister, and with his own loneliness and self-doubt.

   This isn’t really enough to carry a story successfully (asked for his opinion, Raymond Chandler advised against filming it), but Butler does a very nice job conveying the physical effort of running and driving through deep snow, the slippery suspense of a slow-motion car-chase over icy country lanes, and the sheer exhaustion of mind and body brought on by the cold. Somehow the visceral quality of the story and his prose keeps one turning the pages.

   The film that John Houseman and Nicholas Ray made out of this despite Chandler’s advice is an oddly moving affair, rather disjointed (like many RKO films under Howard Hughes’ regime) and all the better for it. It opens with twenty minutes of sheer Big City noir, with Robert Ryan as a psychotic cop on the verge of murder, then shifts neatly to the snowbound countryside, where Ryan sees his own violence mirrored in the rampaging father (a fine performance by Ward Bond) setting up one of those narrative metaphors that Ray did so well: If Ryan can keep the berserk parent from blasting the frightened fugitive, then maybe (?) he can control his own sickness.

   This is the sort of film on which Nicholas Ray built his reputation. The early city-set scenes are purest noir, with George E. Diskant’s camera sliding fluidly through seedy bars, sleazy apartment houses, and shadowy alleys, punctuated by short bursts of jerky hand-held shots to accentuate the violence. And when we move out into the country, Ray and Diskant impart the feel of icy snowscapes, jagged rocks, and rustic farms just as vividly.

   Then there’s the plu-perfect playing, from the sleazy bit players, to Robert Ryan at the edge of violence, Ward Bond well over the top, charging through a landscape that barely holds him, and in the midst of this Ida Lupino serenely dominating the screen, while Sumner Williams as her disturbed brother darts about like some dangerously wounded animal.

   In short, this is a totally unique film, done with consummate artistry, and if you’ve been a good little boy-or-girl this year, you owe yourself a viewing.

THE ITALIAN JOB. Paramount Pictures, UK/US, 1969. Michael Caine, Noël Coward, Benny Hill, Maggie Blye, Rossano Brazzi. Screenwriter: Troy Kennedy-Martin. Director: Peter Collinson. Currently streaming on several platforms, including Amazon Prime Video (but ending there tomorrow).

   When I spotted this movie on Amazon Prime on Monday, but that it was ending there soon, I thought I’d better finally see it while I could, and I’m glad I did. I saw the remake when it came out, but how I’d let this one get by me for so long, I have no explanation.

   It is a heist film, of course, and as usual, heist films take a long time getting around to the heist itself: the planning, the gathering together of the people to pull it off, the obstacles they face while doing so. (In this case, since this particular heist is being pulled off in Italy by a high level gang of British drivers and miscellaneous thugs under the leadership of Michael Caine’s character, and the overall backing, moneywise, of criminal mastermind Noël Coward, safely ensconced in penitentiary, it is the Mafia).

   But in all heist films, or 99.5 percent of them, as meticulously planned as the are, and this one absolutely is, something has to go wrong. A hitch in timing somewhere along the way, a slip-up in timing, a brief bit of conversation overheard by someone who shouldn’t have been there. The audience, expecting exactly this, even while watching events take place like clockwork, even if improvised when need be, only needs to sit back and wait. Second halves of heist films are always the best.

   And the combination of Michael Caine (movie), Noël Coward (stage), and Benny Hill (TV star) may seem to have pulled out of a hat at random, but each in their own way were at the top of their artistic fields at the time, and they’re the glue at the core that holds the film together (some more than others).

   Once the heist gets underway in earnest, some of the storylines get dropped completely. Michael Caine’s girl friend for one, and the Mafia, surprisingly, for another. What I think I’ll do, though, is stop here, rather than analyze the movie any longer (many others have) and amuse you with some photos I took along the way. And by the way, I loved the last line of dialogue: “Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea.”







SNOW TRAIL. Toho Company, Japan, 1947. Original title: Ginrei no hate. Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Yoshio Kosugi. Director: Senkichi Taniguchi. Currently streaming on the Criterion Channel.

   Fairly early on in Snow Trail, the viewer learns that there are three escaped bank robbers and that they’re hiding out somewhere in remote, cold mountainous terrain. Enter what appears to be an urban police detective who is working with local authorities to apprehend the men.

   And then the movie shifts to a resort where two employees, who heard on the radio that one of the fugitives is missing several fingers, are seen scheming as to how they can get one of the resort’s guests to remove the glove he wears all the time.

   At this point, it’s not clear whether the movie is going to be a police procedural, a film noir, or something else entirely. Indeed, it takes about another thirty or forty minutes for the central story of the movie to come into its own and by that time, you’re hooked.

   After one of the three fugitives purportedly dies, the remaining two men must struggle to survive amidst the cold, desolate landscape. Luckily for them, they find shelter in a mountain cabin inhabited by an old man, his granddaughter, and a mountaineer who is literally weathering an oncoming storm with them.

   It’s then when the two men, portrayed by Japanese film legends Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune, begin to clash. The older of the two criminals, Nojiro (Shimura) becomes wistful and introspective. Although it’s never made absolutely explicit, one senses that he is beginning to have deep, painful regrets about his life choices.

   Eijima (Mifune), on the other hand, grows more cold, more divorced from humanity, and increasingly willing to utilize violence. There’s a chillingly effective scene in which Ejima barks at his erstwhile colleague for merely enjoying listening to music. He’s the character who has gone spiraling downward into darkness.

   In many ways, Snow Trail has all the hallmarks of film noir and was clearly influenced by American crime films. But it’s also an existentialist work and a redemption story. The movie is fundamentally about one man, alone against a giant landscape of mountains and sky, who realizes too late that he has fundamentally wasted his life on crime rather than on family and connection to nature.

   Compared to Japanese crime films of the 1960s and 1970s, this little-known film may not be particularly compelling cinematically. But it’s a solidly constructed work of Japanese postwar cinema that deserves a look.


BEST LAID PLANS. 20th Century Fox, 1999. Alessandro Nivola, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin. Writer: Ted Griffin. Director: Mike Barker. Available on DVD and currently streaming on HBO/HBO Max.

   For the first hour or so, I thought Best Laid Plans was a rather derivative, but watchable and hip Quentin Tarantino-inspired crime film. Then I started to get much more into the movie, which isn’t that difficult considering the three talented actors whose characters made up the core love triangle in the film. And finally, I ended up frustrated and disillusioned, realizing that (SPOILER ALERT) the entire movie wasn’t simply a deconstruction of film noir tropes, but rather a gimmick. And the simple truth about gimmick movies is this. Once you’ve seen it, you have no desire to ever watch it again.

   Such it is with Best Laid Plans. What becomes a juicy 90s thriller turns into a farce. On paper, it probably sounded good. A small-town loser named Nick (Alessandro Nivola) enlists his girlfriend Lissa (Reese Witherspoon) into an ill-fated scheme in which she will seduce his college buddy Bryce (Josh Brolin). The plan is to falsely accuse Bryce of rape so that the scheming young couple can steal from Bryce. But it all goes horribly wrong. Such is the way in the world of neon-soaked small town desert noir. There are some admittedly good moments in here and Brolin, in particular, disappears into his character.

   That said, it all comes apart in a big way in the last ten minutes. Everything you think you saw was a lie. No, it wasn’t all a dream (another cheap way to ruin a plot). But it’s pretty darn close. Close enough that it doesn’t surprise me that the film apparently did poorly at the box office. It’s a real shame, because the film had a lot going for it. That exceptional cast in particular.


LUCKY JORDAN. Paramount Pictures, 1942.Alan Ladd, Helen Walker, Sheldon Leonard, Helen Page, Lloyd Corrigan, John Wengraf, Miles Mander. Screenplay by Darrell Ware, Karl Tunberg, Story by Charles Leonard. Directed by Frank Tuttle. Currently available on YouTube.

   Flag waving gangster epic on a familiar note. Ladd is tough slick New York gangster Lucky Jordan who has just survived a murder attempt orchestrated by his partner Slip Moran (Sheldon Leonard) when he gets the bad news his shyster lawyer Ernest Higgins (Lloyd Corrigan) can’t keep him out of the Draft.

   Ladd tries getting Annie (Helen Page) to pose as his needy mother, but when that doesn’t work, he is in the army and not handling it too well. Still he manages to meet beautiful WAC Jill Evans (Helen Walker) before getting thrown into the brig.

   Lucky isn’t going to take that lying down and slugs a guard and escapes, managing to steal a car and kidnap Jill along the way. Despite that, the two, as is always the way when a good girl is kidnapped by a gangster in Hollywood’s Fairy Tale world, they fall for each other.

   Once on the outside, he goes after his partner Slip, who he knows is moving in on his business and when they clash, he beats up Slip, who he discovers has secret papers he is selling to Nazi Spies.

   Helen begs him to return the papers and become a hero, but Lucky see dollar bills to fund him in his life as a deserter.

   When he goes to sell the papers back to Slip, Annie stops him warning him she saw Slip setting up an ambush. Lucky hides out with Annie, stores the papers in her place, and begins to warm to the old dame.

   When he returns from arranging another meeting with Slip he finds he was followed home earlier and the thugs have worked over Annie. Lucky, not being too bright right then, gets slugged and the Nazi’s get the papers.

   Don’t ask why they don’t kill him or the old woman. Maybe they are sentimental thugs.

   But Lucky’s two-timing secretary Mabel (Marie McDonald), knows one thing, the name of a flower, a rare tulip Slip talked about delivering. Lucky tracks down tulips and finds an estate up in Far Rockaway that has tours of its flower gardens. Along the way Jill has seen him and follows him.

   And yup, it’s the Nazi hideout owned by Miles Mander, where John Wengraf has been dealing with Slip.

   Slip arrives with the papers, but when he meets Mander in the greenhouse Lucky turns the water works on them and drops in through the glass ceiling to snatch the papers. There is some agile stunt work here, a little of it done clearly by Ladd, though not all.

   But now he can’t escape the estate, and Jill, thinking Mander is working with the FBI (she is perfect for Lucky, not too bright herself) is unknown to her a prisoner, and when Lucky gets rid of the papers will the citizen he planted them on call the FBI, and can he stall Wengraf and Mander long enough for the FBI to get there?

   No Spoilers, but if you have any doubt, you don’t know Hollywood.

   Though it is hardly in a class with Sam Fuller’s classic on the theme Pick Up on South Street or Mr. Lucky or as funny as All Through the Night, it is a fairly smart little film with a charismatic performance by Ladd as the usual tough guy with a heart, though to give him credit, his Lucky is far less sentimental than the same roles played by Lloyd Nolan and others in the same period. Even the ending hits a comically sour note.

   Lucky Jordan is nothing new, nothing special, but it is well acted and written all around, and I confess I’m still a sucker for those Patriotic speeches given by tough guys who find out just how much fun it is to punch a Nazi in the face.

   It’s an entire genre of Hollywood films with the good bad guy deciding he is more good than bad when it comes to flag waving and some of his former partners deciding they only see dollar signs.

   Ironically it works in so many movies, and here it has Ladd at his most attractive, full of quiet menace, easy physicality, and a hint of something wounded behind his eyes. Walker is beautiful and smart, Leonard always good, Mander and Wengraf make for fine villainy, and the Damon Runyonesque Lady for a Day business between Ladd and Page is satisfying without getting cloying.

   This is hardly up to the classic that Ladd and director Stuart Heisler put together in The Glass Key, but then there is no Veronica Lake or William Bendix, and at times this one is just a little rushed and half-hearted, an A film that is at heart a B with a little attitude.



FLAXY MARTIN. Warner Brothers, 1949. Virginia Mayo, Zachary Scott, Dorothy Malone, Tom D’Andrea, Helen Westcott, Douglas Kennedy, Elisha Cook Jr., Douglas Fowley. Monte Blue. Director: Richard L. Bare.

   Speaking of Douglass Fowley, he plays a snide cop with an exaggerated opinion of his own brains in Flaxy Martin, one of those great Warner’s B’s like they just don’t do no more. Zachary Scott is an underworld lawyer who wants to quit working for gangster Tom D’Andrea, but can’t tear himself loose from chanteuse Virginia Mayo, who — unbeknownst to Scott — has a business/pleasure relationship with D’Andrea herself, and is being well-rewarded for keeping him on the string.

   Tom D’Andrea [later best known for playing Chester A. Riley’s close buddy on TV] does a fine job as a virile, half-sharp gangster, kind of in the nasty-Ronald-Reagan mode, and stands up quite nicely against noir archetypes Scott and Elisha Cook Jr., who is a bit scarier than usual here as a sawed-off wanna-be who keeps calling Scott “Shamus” – shouldn’t it be Mouthpiece?

   Director Richard Bare is best remembered for his work on 77 Sunset Strip, but he does a workmanlike job here, making the most of bits like Scott being stalked through the streets by Cook Jr., a roof-top fist-fight, and a really memorable scene of our hero leaping from a speeding train and plummeting down a ravine.

   Anyway, the story offers no surprises whatever, and the characters seem motivated by nothing so much as a need to move the plot along, but there’s enough old-fashioned Style here, backed up by a syrupy echt-40s Musical score, to make it lotsa fun.

— Reprinted from A Shropshire Sleuth #71, May 1995.




DUFFY. (Columbia Pictures, 1968. James Coburn, James Mason, James Fox, Susannah York, John Alderton. Screenplay: Donald Cammell and Harry Joe Brown Jr., both of whom are credited with the story along with Pierre La Salle. Directed by Robert Parrish.

   Nothing ages worse than old hipster unless it is old hipster comedy, dripping with pretension as only hipsters could drip pretension, and imagining mostly overage pre-hippy/Eurotrash types planning a big caper.

   Luckily for everyone involved this one has James Coburn and Susannah York (“I may be a hooker, but I am absolutely not a slut.”) to deliver actual cool and real sensuality to what would be without them as painful to watch as John Alderton’s rather thick English twit performance here.

   Coburn is Duffy, a former con man and smuggler recruited by half brothers Stefane and Antony (James Fox and John Alderton) and Stefane’s girl Segolene’s (York) plot to play pirate robbing the ship the Osiris out of Tangiers carrying a fortune belonging to their cynical and cruel father J. C. Calvert (James Mason).

   It would help if Mason’s character was at least nasty. As is his greatest sin seems to be rightly thinking his sons are useless and a dunce, and he isn’t far off.

   And I would point out that since this is an English film with English characters it would help if the characters weren’t given silly names like Stefane, Antony, and Segolene with no explanation.

   The boys remember Duffy who was a mate on their father’s yacht when Stefane and Segolene come up with the idea and convince the retired crook to go into the caper with them despite his reservations. While they stay in Tangier at Duffy’s place (decorated in porn chic for lack of any other description to fit the absolutely tasteless decor), York and Duffy become involved as the time for the shipment grows closer and their plans go into effect.

   Among the better things about this are the location shooting and gorgeous cinematography, if only someone had told Cammell and Brown (whose career is as spotty as Cammell’s) they weren’t actually the least bit hip, and Parrish had not let himself be convinced they were this might have been a pretty good caper film, but as it is the heist itself is anti-climactic and boring.

   As it stands everyone is too old and stuck with terrible dialogue:

      “I hope Stefane is okay. I hope Stephane hopes I’m okay.”

      “It has occurred to me I’m getting used to you finally, and I probably love you in the worst possible way, I guess.”

   It’s no “We’ll always have Paris.”

   Cammell did somewhat better with his own film Performance (still pretentious, but interesting) and Demon Seed (which he hated and tried to make into a comedy), but basically this film is as problematic as his career. Even Coburn stumbles over some of the dialogue that sounds as if it was written as a Mad Magazine parody of Jack Kerouac.

   But Coburn can’t help but be Coburn and even here is ultra cool, while York is incredibly sexy despite it all, those icy eyes fascinating, though she and Coburn both scored better in the altogether more satisfying Sky Riders.

   James Mason is James Mason no matter what he is in, and that is always a bonus.

   There is a twist if you make it that long, but it really isn’t enough to lift this above the level of interesting. And honestly, if you didn’t guess the twist from the start, you weren’t paying attention.

   But I will give it that the end and Coburn being Coburn plus Lou Rawls singing “I’m Satisfied” end it better than the rest of the movie deserves.

   Arguably this might have been better seen in a theater in 1968 when I was 18, but I don’t think so. I didn’t take drugs then either, and only that could help this.

   What a huge waste of talent and beautiful scenery.


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