The Next Man (1976)

next man

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Hit lady at work.

Khalil (Sean Connery) is an Arab diplomat looking to form a bridge between the Arab and Jewish states and even allow Israel to become a member of OPEC. Naturally this creates controversy. Diplomats from around the world suddenly turn up dead. Khalil manages to avoid the attempts on his life, but realizes he can’t stay on the run forever. He forms a relationship with the beautiful Nicole (Cornelia Sharpe) unaware that she is a paid hit lady with an agenda.

The film starts out well with varied scenes shot around the world in interesting locations. The scene where a husband and wife diplomats get thrown off the balcony of their ritzy hotel by assassins disguised as room service is pretty good, but the story and pace are choppy. I could never get quite into it or even understand all the time what was going on.

Much of this can be attributed to the extremely poor transfer of the 2006 Trinity Enterprises DVD issue, which cuts the original 108 minute runtime down to only 90 minutes. Clearly several integral scenes are missing making for a muddled viewing experience and unfortunately this is the only available source of the film at this time. I was also highly unimpressed with the faded color and grainy picture quality making it seem like the whole thing had been copied directly off of a VHS tape with no attempts at restoration.

The casting of Sharpe in the lead was a mistake. She may be beautiful, but her acting is only adequate. She was wisely given only limited lines of dialogue, but in the process it makes her character one-dimensional and uninteresting.

Connery is equally miscast and shows little of his trademark charisma. He doesn’t appear until about 10 minutes in and his attempts to come off as an Arab national is unconvincing. His romance with Sharpe happens too quickly and although I liked the surprise ending it barely registered since so much of the rest of the story is boring and pointless.

Alternate Title: The Arab Conspiracy

My Rating: 4 out of 10

November 5, 1976

Runtime: 1Hour 48 Minutes (Original Release) 1Hour 31Minutes (DVD release)

Rated R

Director: Richard C. Sarafian

Studio: Allied Artists Pictures

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video

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