“something big” (1971)

something big 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Kidnapping the colonel’s wife.

Joe Baker (Dean Martin) is an aging bandit looking to do “something big”. He becomes aware of a hoard of treasure being hidden inside a church that sits just across the border and safely guarded by a throne of Mexican bandits. Joe figures that to be able to overpower them he’ll need a Gatling gun and turns to black market dealer Jonny Cobb (Albert Salmi) who agrees to sell him one in exchange for a woman as he’s been without the company of one for “too long”. Joe then begins robbing stagecoaches in a mission to find a woman attractive enough for Jonny’s tastes. After several attempts he finds one who just happens to be the wife of the cavalry colonel (Brian Keith) who then goes on a mission to rescue her while attempting to put a kibosh on Joe’s plans.

This is another film that was given a ‘bomb’ rating by Leonard Maltin that I didn’t think was all that desrved. It’s certainly no classic but James Lee Barrett’s script if full of dry humor and offbeat touches that manages to keep things consistently amusing. Some of my favorite bits include Martin traveling around with a small pooch in his saddle pocket, or his horse having gold crown teeth. Don Knight as his Scottish travel companion Tommy who carries his bagpipes with him at all times and will even occasionally play them as they enter new frontier towns is funny too.

Keith is spot-on as the slightly stuffy colonel who is stuck with incompetent underlings and just wants to move on with his impending retirement in peace, but can’t. His facial expressions alone are terrific and he gives a far more nuanced performance than co-star Martin and should’ve been given top billing.

The attractive and sassy Honor Blackman is great as Keith’s wife and could easily be considered a ‘milf’ by today’s male audience. Joyce Van Patten and Judi Meredith as two women living on a lonely ranch willing to have sex with any man that comes along, including the uptight colonel, are quite funny as is Salmi with his garishly discolored, tobacco stained teeth.

The climax features some nifty gun action including seeing Martin use his Gatling gun to shoot down the bandits in domino-like fashion, but for the most part the script too leisurely paced and in desperate need of more confrontation and elaborate scenarios. Marvin Hamlisch’s soft-rock score is out-of-place for the time period and the theme song sung by former Paul Revere and the Raiders front man Mark Lindsey doesn’t have any type of western feel to it. I also got tired of hearing the phrase “something big” mentioned over and over again. Initially it seemed cute and clever to repeat the film’s title in the dialogue, but it eventually goes overboard.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: November 24, 1971

Runtime: 1Hour 48Minutes

Rated GP

Director: Andrew V. McLaglen

Studio: National General Pictures

Available: DVD

Oh! Calcutta! (1972)

oh calcutta 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: No clothes no problem.

This film is based on the long running stage play that ran from June 17, 1969 to August 12, 1972 and later revived in the ‘80s to become one of the longest running shows in Broadway history. This version was taped in front of a live audience on a closed sound stage and then broadcast on pay-per-view, which eventually was transferred to theaters in ’72. It has a mainly nude cast performing in skits with a sex related theme and later became popular for featuring Bill Macy who went on to star as Walter in the hit TV-show ‘Maude’.

The film starts out interestingly enough as it shows the audience members filing in and examines the nervous looks on their faces as this was when nudity on stage was all still quite new and controversial. The film then cuts back and forth between the audience and the backstage cast who are in-the-buff and getting ready to perform.  They then come out on stage in bathrobes and do an Avant-garde-like dance sequence in which their names get matted over the screen while they flash the audience.

It then goes into the skit portion and everything goes rapidly downhill from there. The first segment isn’t funny at all and actually quite disturbing. It deals with two adults pretending to be teens who are starting to become aware of their sexual awakenings. The boy, who is named Jack, takes out a ruler in order to put it up Jill’s ‘thing’ to make sure it will be deep enough to fit in his ‘thing’. She becomes reluctant, so he tackles her and forcibly rapes her while killing her in the process. Unable to grasp what he has done he props her up and has a ‘conversation’ with the corpse before walking away and allowing the camera to zoom in on a close-up of her vacant, empty eyes.

The second segment deals with the cast reading letters of sexual fantasies written by anonymous authors that isn’t as titillating as it sounds. The third segment deals with a man who has become bored with his sex life and wants his reluctant girlfriend to try out some new fetishes. This segment is particularly boring because during the time the couple is having sex the viewer is treated to watching three minutes of a matted picture of a city skyscraper instead.

After this there is a skit dealing with a conservative couple inviting over some swingers as well as a segment dealing with an examination done at a doctor’s office, which is has a vaudeville theme and comes complete with cheesy cartoon sound effects.

There was a time when the mention of sex or nudity shown of any kind would be deemed ‘controversial’, but that period is long gone and this insipid thing hasn’t aged well at all. In fact there are old episodes of the ‘Love Boat’ that are more provocative and funnier than anything you’ll see here.

oh calcutta 2

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: June 16, 1972

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Jacques Levy

Studio: Cinemation Industries

Available: DVD (out-of-print)

Against All Odds (1984)

against all odds

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Searching for missing girlfriend.

Terry Brogan (Jeff Bridges) is an aging football player who gets cut from the team and in desperate need of cash. He reluctantly accepts a paying assignment from his friend Jake Wise (James Woods) which has him traveling to Mexico in search of Jake’s girlfriend Jessie (Rachel Ward) who just so happens to also be the daughter of the team’s owner (Jane Greer) that cut Terry from the squad. Terry manages to find Jessie rather quickly and the two promptly fall in love, which propels a string of odd events that soon has Terry embroiled in a complex criminal scheme that threatens both his life and others.

This film is a remake from the 1947 film noir classic Out of the Past, but it does not fare as well as the original. The main problem is that it requires the viewer to make some major leaps in logic and only proceeds to get more implausible as it goes along. The fact that both Jake and the team’s owner want to hire Terry to find Jessie is the biggest issue. Why would these two want to throw gobs of money at someone who has no experience in finding people or know the first thing about the process. They wouldn’t hire him to fix their car if he had no experience in that area, so why expect him to have any ability in finding a missing person. Professional private eyes have spent years tracking down people and have attained skills that a novice wouldn’t, so why not just leaf through the Yellow Pages of their local phone book and hire a private investigator with good credentials to do the job instead?

Terry also locates Jessie much too quickly. Mexico has a population of 125 million people and yet in only a couple days he miraculously spots her buying food from across the street from where he is having a drink. In equally miraculous fashion she is somehow able to, after only speaking to him briefly, figure out which hotel he is staying at and bursts into his room unannounced the next day, which is also dumb because who leaves their hotel room door unlocked especially when staying in a foreign country? Later the Alex Karras character is somehow able to find the two as they make love inside an ancient Mayan temple deep inside the remote jungles of the Yucatan, which again is highly questionable and probably even more implausible than the other two examples mentioned above.

The motivations of the characters are another issue. There’s a scene where the Swoosie Kurtz character, as a favor to Terry, goes into a dead man’s office to retrieve some important files from a safe while having a Doberman growling at her and a corrupt security guard ready to harm her at any second, but why someone would put their life on the line for somebody that they really don’t know that well is nebulous and in reality wouldn’t occur.

There is also a scene involving Jake and Terry drag racing down the busy streets of L.A. in broad daylight. Some fans of the film consider this to be quite exciting, but I found it to be unrealistic as it is hard to believe that they could get away with it without catching the eye of a traffic cop as they were doing it. Having two middle-aged men be so utterly reckless not only with their own lives but those of the other drivers is also hard to imagine and puts their most prized possessions, which is their snazzy sports cars in jeopardy of getting totaled. Going to some other less traveled place to do their off-road racing would’ve made more sense.

On the plus side Larry Carlton’s moody soundtrack is great and helps create just the right tone. I also thought Ward was a perfect choice for her role as she is quite sensual and seductive without ever overdoing it. The film also scores with its breathtaking Mexican scenery.

I liked that Greer, who starred in the original version, gets cast as Ward’s mother and although I felt Richard Widmark does quite well as the heavy I was disappointed that the role wasn’t offered to either Robert Mitchum or Kirk Douglas as they had appeared in the original as well.

The plot features many twists, which keeps it mildly interesting, but it also borders on getting convoluted and is never emotionally compelling. The ongoing love affair between the two leads ends up being annoying as well. For one thing she two-times him while also bailing on him the moment things got tough. If a person does that to someone once they will do it to them again if given the chance, so ‘losing’ her wasn’t much of a loss and makes the image of her crying for him, which gets shown over the closing credits, all the more melodramatic and over-the-top.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: March 2, 1984

Runtime: 2Hours 1Minute

Rated R

Director: Taylor Hackford

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: DVD

A Man, A Woman and a Bank (1979)

man a woman and a bank 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: A very large withdrawal.

Small-time crook Reese (Donald Sutherland) teams up with his computer expert friend Norman (Paul Mazursky) to pull of what they hope will be the perfect crime. Their plan is to reprogram the alarm system of a bank while the building is still under construction. Then when it finally gets completed they’ll break into the vault undetected and walk away with a cool 50 million dollars. Things though get off to a rocky start when commercial photographer Stacey (Brooke Adams) snaps of picture of Reese as he is stealing the blueprints of the building. In an effort to get the negatives back he tracks her down, but ends up falling in love with her instead putting their elaborate plan at risk.

There’s been a million and one bank robbery films done and many of them can be quite entertaining, but this one misses the mark from the very beginning. For one thing it gives us no backstory to the characters, or how they were able to come up with the idea in the first place. Giving a compelling reason for the viewer to become emotionally attached to the characters and their quest helps and this film fails to give it. The plan itself seems too easy and full of a lot of potential pitfalls that the script conveniently overlooks. The idea that the Norman character would be able to break into the bank’s security system by simply feeding the computer with a lot of useless usernames until it finally breaks down and starts spitting out the secret information is in itself quite questionable.

The pacing is poor and the story meanders onto several different story threads that have nothing to do with the crime. Analyzing Norman’s marriage difficulties and Stacey’s troubles with her possessive boyfriend (Allan Kolman) seems like material for a whole different movie and does nothing to help keep the interest going in this one. In fact the movie spends so much time on these other tangents that the robbery begins to seem almost like a side-story.

Stars Sutherland and Adams reunite after starring in Invasion of the Body Snatchers just a year earlier. The two share a good chemistry, but Sutherland is too laid back in the role and Adams’ hyper energy helps only so much. The film’s best performance and ultimate scene stealer is Mazursky who is completely on-the-mark as the nervous friend and gets quite a few good lines.

The film does have a couple of unique scenes that I liked including a collection of candles made to look like well-known game show hosts and a security guard who does jumping jack exercises only to light up a cigarette the minute he sits back down. The crime though is boring and does not offer enough tension. I was almost hoping they’d end up getting caught as they are able to pull it off too easily with a plan that I don’t think would ever work in real-life.

man a woman and a bank

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: September 8, 1979

Runtime: 1Hour 41Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Noel Black

Studio: AVCO Embassy Pictures

Available: DVD

Lucky Lady (1975)

lucky lady

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Three’s not a crowd.

Walker (Burt Reynolds) and Claire (Liza Minnelli) make money by helping people illegally cross the Mexican border into the states, but when their third partner in the business dies and they almost get arrested they decide to get into an easier line of work. With the help of Kibby (Gene Hackman) they become rum-runners who transport liquor by boat under the cover of night during the prohibition era. As the three start to have some success and get to know each other they also form a love triangle and spend their evenings involved in a ménage-a-trois.

If you’re in the mood for non-think, grandiose style entertainment made in the same vein of classic movies from Hollywood’s golden era then you should find this more than satisfying. The plot moves along at a nice breezy pace with characters that are distinct and fun and full of snappy dialogue. The majority of the story takes place on water, but manages to remain quite exciting and ironically only becomes waterlogged when it goes on land. The lavish sets are splendid and the film could be enjoyed by simply taking in those alone.

The three leads are in top form and play against type. Minnelli, who actually looks sexy here in a flapper styled hairdo, is quite amusing with her acerbic one-liners. Reynolds is great as the klutzy member of the trio and Hackman is solid as always playing someone who seems meek at first, but eventually takes over things with his patented strong personality. Unfortunately John Hillerman, best known for playing Higgins in the ‘Magnum P.I.’ TV-series, is the only weak link of the cast playing a bad guy that never conveys enough menace to be truly threatening.

A young Robby Benson who was 18 at the time, but more looks more like 14 is quite good in support. I was never all that impressed with the former teen heart throb, but here he is effective playing a shy kid who says little, but when he does say something it’s a gem. Geoffrey Lewis is also quite funny as an inept Captain of the Coast Guard. Mills Watson, who is best known for playing Deputy Perkins on the ‘The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo’ TV-series can be spotted in a couple of scenes. IMDb does not have him listed here, but I recognized him and his name does come up on the closing credits as a character named Giff.

For lightweight entertainment the film does have quite a few action sequences that are surprisingly well choreographed and even quite bloody, but the climatic sequence becomes too cartoonish. I was also disappointed that the one unique element of the story, which is the three getting into a relationship, is only mildly touched upon and basically forgotten after the first hour. The film could’ve gone a lot farther with that and even made it the centerpiece of the plot, which would’ve helped make it more character driven and groundbreaking.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: December 25, 1975

Runtime: 1Hour 58Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Stanley Donen

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: DVD

 

Throw Momma from the Train (1987)

throw momma 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 8 out of 10

4-Word Review: Two guys trade murders.

Larry (Billy Crystal) is a creative writing teacher who’s bitter about his ex-wife (Kate Mulgrew) stealing his story idea and using it to write a successful novel that has made her rich and famous while he wallows in the realm of writer’s block. Owen (Danny DeVito) is a writing student taking one of Larry’s classes who is stuck living with his miserable mother (Anne Ramsey) who he’d like to see dead. After watching the movie Strangers on a Train he comes up with what he thinks is a brilliant solution. He’ll murder Larry’s ex-wife while Larry in turn will murder his Momma. Owen does his part, but Larry is reluctant to pull his end of the ‘deal’.

DeVito gets a lot of accolades for his acting, but in many ways I think he is an even better director and doesn’t get enough credit for it. This movie was way ahead-of-its-time and ushers in many interesting juxtapositions and edits that we take for granted now, but was considered quite novel back then. I loved the close-up of Owen’s Hawaiian shirt with palm trees and then a jet plane formatted over it, which is used to cut to the next scene as well as the scene showing Larry’s students sitting in class and then the camera panning over in one take to Larry sleeping on the sofa in his apartment. The segments with a camera spinning around the characters is good and gives it a very Hitchcock feel especially the one with Larry lying on the floor as the camera rotates above him, but the best directorial touch is when Owen goes bowling while imagining that the pins are his mother.

Ramsey’s performance as the ultimate mother from hell is another selling point and one that has made this a cult classic. The fact that the woman was dying of cancer at the time and was in severe pain during the entire time that the movie was being filmed makes it all the more impressive. My only complaint is that it would’ve been nice had there been at least one moment where her character revealed a softer side and made her seem at least slightly human. I also felt that her eventual demise was quite unimaginative especially for a film that was otherwise very creative.

DeVito scores as well in his performance of the nebbish grown son in a character that could’ve easily been unlikable had it not been perfectly balanced, which he does marvelously. Crystal is excellent as a sort of sane everyman stuck in a very insane situation. His best part comes when he paces his house endlessly while trying desperately to come up with the opening sentence of his novel, which I found to be one of the funniest moments in the movie and something every struggling writer can relate to.

The wrap-up is a bit too good natured and works against the story’s otherwise dark comical roots, but it still gets a few points for showing Owen’s children’s pop-up book that he made, which illustrates the film’s scenario.

throw momma 2

My Rating: 8 out of 10

Released: December 11, 1987

Runtime: 1Hour 28Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Danny DeVito

Studio: Orion Pictures

Available: DVD, Blu-ray

The Fortune (1975)

fortune

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Trying to murder heiress.

Oscar (Jack Nicholson) and Nicky (Warren Beatty) are two inept con men living in the 1920’s who think they’ve come up with the perfect plan for gaining a lot of money by having Oscar marry Fredericka (Stockard Channing) who is set to inherit millions from her father as she is the sole heiress to his fortune.  Unfortunately for them once the wedding is over Fredericka suddenly announces that she plans on donating her entire fortune to charity convincing the two that they must murder her before she does.

I found this to be a highly enjoyable movie and was laughing-out-loud in a lot of places, which is something that I don’t typically do. So it made me surprised to find that there were quite a few people on IMDB that were critical of it, or that it did so poorly at the box office when it was initially released. I admit that for the first hour the script meanders and things don’t really get going until the final 30 minutes when the two try to implement their hair-brained murder attempts, which they hope to make look like a suicide, but instead encounter one unexpected disaster after another.

Two of the funniest moments include the scene where Jack Nicholson walk out onto the wing of a flying airplane and scares Fredericka who is sitting as a passenger inside in a sort of comic spin of the famous ‘Twilight Zone’ episode that starred William Shatner. Another great scene is when Nicky and Oscar put Fredericka’s unconscious body inside a trunk and then try to throw if off a bridge only to inadvertently hold up a long procession of honking cars and angry drivers.

The three leads are in top form and play completely against type here. Beatty, who usually plays laid-back and detached characters, is more cantankerous and belligerent and Nicholson, with his hairstyle resembling that of singer Art Garfunkel’s is very funny as the dimwitted second-banana. Channing looks great in a flapper style hairdo and the segments detailing her desperate attempts at cooking are quite amusing. Florence Stanley is also good in support as the noisy landlord.

The film has the ingredients for a perfect comedy although it will appeal more to those who enjoy their humor on the dark side. The twist ending is kind of clever and the final camera shot that rotates to an almost complete turn is excellent.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: October 16, 1975

Runtime: 1Hour 28Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Mike Nichols

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

Hollywood Cop (1987)

hollywood cop 3

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Renegade cop saves child.

When Rebecca (Julie Schoenhofer) has her child Stevie (Brandon Angle) kidnapped by gangsters she finds that the police are of no help. Then she meets Turkey (David Goss) a cop that likes to work outside the system and he soon takes on the bad guys single-handedly even after it gets him fired from the force by his supervisor (Cameron Mitchell) who does not appreciate Turkey’s renegade ways.

A sleep inducing, run-of-the-mill action flick that was made to cash in on the popularity of Dirty Harry and the ‘Miami Vice’ TV-show with the Turkey character being a warped combination of Harry Callahan and Sonny Crockett. The plot is banal and the action redundant with a pounding, cheesy soundtrack that would be better suited for an ‘80’s porn movie.  Despite a few opening shots photographing Tinsletown’s iconic imagery the majority of the action take place in cheap looking backlots where the crew could film without having to get a permit and thus making the setting of the story and film’s title pointless as the whole thing could’ve just as easily taken place in Omaha, Nebraska and been just as effective or in this case ineffective.

The only thing that is slightly diverting is the casting of the small child who looks to be no older than five, but gets a major chunk of screen time and whose acting is far superior to that of his older co-stars. The scene where he has a ‘conversation’ with a Doberman that is guarding him and his attempts to ‘make friends’ with the animal can be considered depending on one’s perspective as being either endearing or laughably ridiculous. My only real complaint with him is the fact that he gets backhanded several times by the bad guys and even bleeds from the nose and mouth and yet he never cries. There is simply no way a young child of that age wouldn’t immediately break out into tears if they were hit like that and the fact that he doesn’t makes the already hokey scenario seem all the more fake.

Goss is terrible in the lead with his acting coming off almost as badly as his perm hairdo. Why the character is given such a stupid nickname as Turkey is never explained, but would’ve worked better as the film’s title instead. Schoenhofer is equally pathetic as the boy’s mother and her attempts at showing distress look more like someone suffering from stomach pains. I was also confused how an ordinary suburban housewife would be so adept at using a gun or expertly able to drive a speeding car during their chase with the gangsters.

Jim Mitchum, who is the son of the legendary actor Robert Mitchum and looks just like him, gets listed as the film’s star despite having very little time in front of the camera.

It’s hard to imagine how anyone even the most undemanding viewer could find this thing ‘cool’, or that the filmmakers actually thought there would be people out there who would like it. Good for a few unintentional laughs and that’s it although the film’s biggest joke is its opening title sequence in which every actor in the cast gets their name listed in a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, which is funny since none of these actors could ever come close to getting their own star in real-life.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: September 22, 1987

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Amir Shervan

Studio: Peacock Films

Available: DVD-R

 

The Flamingo Kid (1984)

flamingo kid

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Get rich selling cars.

The year is 1963 and Jeffrey (Matt Dillon) is an 18-year-old still looking for direction. While working a summer job at the Flamingo Club he meets Phil Brody (Richard Crenna) who fills his head with big dreams of getting rich while selling cars. Jeffrey’s father (Hector Elizondo) wants him to go to college, but Jeffrey finds that idea to be boring and likes getting on the ‘fast-track’ to success better. After many arguments he finally moves out only to realize that Phil’s promises are empty and full-of-strings.

The movie is entertaining mainly because it manages to successfully suck you into a whole different time period. I loved the colorful cars with fins, the snazzy outfits and bouncy tunes. Most movies recreate a bygone era with an air of contempt about it, but this film makes the early ‘60s seem fun, nostalgic and full of opportunity. It also does a great job of exposing the different layers of American capitalism from those that feed off of it and exploit it, as with Crenna’s character, to those that are just happy to get by and not take any undue risks as with the father and then to the teens who are always convinced that attaining the American Dream is much easier than it really is.

The best part of the movie though is the way in analyzes the relationship between the son and father. So many movies seem to prefer looking at conflicts between mother and daughter, but fathers and sons can have just as many quarrels and this film delivers them in a way that is relatable and believable while also being a bit touching as well.

Dillon is terrific and I liked the way the character isn’t overly cocky or crude like in most ‘80s teen movies, but instead clumsy and socially awkward only to finally find the confidence when he needs it the most. Crenna is outstanding as is Elizondo, but I thought it was unusual that he got cast in the role since he is clearly Puerto Rican and Dillon, as is son, isn’t.

Jessica Walter as Crenna’s perpetually crabby wife is wasted even though she does look fine in a bikini despite already being in her mid-40s at the time of filming. Peter Costa is a scene stealer playing the same type of role that he later did in the ‘The Cosby Show’ as a shy child who doesn’t say anything, but still manages to get into everyone’s way.  John Turturro and Marisa Tomei can also be spotted in non-speaking bit parts.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: December 21, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Gary Marshall

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: DVD

 

 

 

And Hope to Die (1972)

and hope to die

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Kidnapping a dead girl.

Tony (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is on the run from a gypsy group out for revenge and as he is being chased by them he encounters another group of criminals headed by Charley (Robert Ryan) who after some conflict take him into their fold and gives him the nickname of Froggy. Their plan is to kidnap a teen girl who is set to be the star witness at a trial of a major head of a criminal organization. Unfortunately she commits suicide before they can get to her, so they pretend that she is still alive and go through the motions of the kidnapping so as to be able to collect the payout by the organization that hired them.

This is the second of director Rene Clement’s trilogy dealing with the theme of kidnapping. The first was The Deadly Trap and the third being Scar Tissue. Of the three this one is the best mainly because of its many offbeat touches. The wry sense of humor, which is deftly interwoven into an already intricate plot, is terrific and helps make the entire thing engaging from beginning to end. My favorite parts include a contest that Froggy plays with Charley where he can stand three cigarettes on end straight into the air, which he can do with ease while Charley can’t despite his repeated efforts. The eulogy that Charley gives during a makeshift burial of one of their cohorts is priceless and the action isn’t bad either including an exciting sequence in which the group walks across a thin ladder hundreds of feet in the air that connects one skyscraper to another.

The characterizations are well done and played to the hilt. Trintignant plays another one of his outsider-looking-in roles and the way he manages to mesh himself into the group that is initially reluctant to have him is quite amusing. Aldo Ray is a scene stealer playing the gang’s resident bonehead and Tisa Farrow, who is Mia’s younger sister and looks almost like she could be her twin, is appealing in her role as a volatile young lady who knows how to use a gun and not afraid to shoot it whenever she gets the least bit riled.

The actual kidnapping, which is all based on the novel ‘Black Friday’ by David Goodis, doesn’t occur until the final thirty minutes with first hour dealing exclusively with Froggy’s assimilation into the group, which may sound boring, but really isn’t. In fact there if very little about this movie that I didn’t like and my only complaint would be the lackluster ending that doesn’t offer much of a payoff. Otherwise I feel this is a great example of how to mix humor with action, but still managing to keep things believable, fresh and inventive.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: September 15, 1972

Runtime: 1Hour 39Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Rene Clement

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: DVD (Region 2)