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
Director: Mike Nichols
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video