Tag Archives: Lauren Hutton

Gator (1976)


By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Rubbing-out a friend.

Gator McKlusky (Burt Reynolds) is back living in the swamp lands of southern Georgia with his Father (John Steadman) and young daughter (Lori Futch) with no interest of working for the police again. Then one day federal agent Irving Greenfield (Jack Weston) comes by in his boat asking Gator to work with them as an undercover agent to get incriminating information that can be used in court to convict local mob boss ‘Bama’ McCall (Jerry Reed), who just so happens to also be one of Gator’s former buddies. Gator at first resists, but eventually agrees. Bama seems excited to have Gator onboard with his team and even hires him as one of his collectors, but Gator gets turned-off by Bama’s penchant for drugging underage girls and then using them as prostitutes.  Bama eventually lets Gator leave his organization, but this only strengthens Gator’s resolve to put Bama behind bars, which leads the two former friends into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse.

The film was written by William W. Norton, whose colorful life,  was far more interesting than many of his banal scripts, which include such stinkers as I Dismember Mamaand in fact when Norton was on his deathbed in the hospital a nurse asked him if she knew of any of his movies and his response was “I don’t think your IQ is low enough”.  Despite Norton having written the script for the first film, White Lightningthat this movie was a sequel to, Reynolds was initially not interested in doing it and referred to the script as being “terrible”, but when the studio offered him the option to direct it he called it “wonderful”.

Like with many first-time directors the film has many long takes, but overall I felt Reynolds’ virgin effort behind the camera wasn’t too bad. The best part is the opening boat chase shot at the Okeefenokee State Park in southern Georgia that nicely captures it’s picturesque swamp topography as well as some exciting stunt work. Unfortunately after this bit the film goes downhill.

Much of the reason is the script’s inability to keep a consistent tone. The appeal is the spunky humor and action, but by the second act this all disappears and it becomes too serious and slow until it almost starts to resemble a drama. There’s also a few moments of jarring violence that completely losses sight of the playfulness that it had at the beginning.

Reynolds doesn’t seem into his part either, maybe because he was spending so much focus in directing, but in either case he walks through the role and phones in his lines. He also sports a mustache even though in the first installment he didn’t and for consistency he should more or less look the same as he did in the original. The mustache and wavy hair make him look older and the country boy charm that made his character so infectious in the first one is missing here.

Jerry Reed on-the-other-hand is great and shows the necessary energy to keep the scenes that he’s in interesting. Jack Weston is quite funny as the clumsy and constantly exacerbated agent and I was disappointed that he wasn’t in it more as the movie required him to be with Reynolds at all times in order to keep it engaging. I’ll even credit Alice Ghostley as the eccentric cat lady, but Lauren Hutton as the love interest is all wrong. She at least makes fun of the gap in her teeth, which I liked, but the romance angle comes-off as forced and unnecessary and does nothing but bog down the pace, in movie that’s too slow and choppy to begin with.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: August 25, 1976

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Burt Reynolds

Studio: United Artists

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Video

American Gigolo (1980)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Male escort gets framed.

Julian (Richard Gere) works as a male escort in the Los Angeles area servicing affluent female clients, which allows him to drive expensive cars and live in a luxury apartment. He even gets into a relationship with Michelle (Lauren Hutton) a senator’s wife, but just as everything seems to be going his way it comes crashing down when he gets accused of murder, which he didn’t commit. His only alibi is Michelle who he was in bed with that night, but she is reluctant to come forward fearing it will tarnish both her reputation and that of her politically ambitious husband (Brian Davies).

The film’s chief asset is Gere’s performance who puts a gritty edge in a film that is otherwise quite shallow. His character though is blah as we learn little about him, which I found frustrating. Male prostitution is not a profession most men get into, so why does Julian? Having a backstory dealing with his upbringing and showing his relationship with his family could’ve helped us better understand his motivations, but none is ever shown leaving us with a character that may look sexy, but is otherwise an empty shell that is neither interesting nor memorable.

The film offers no insights into the sex profession either. I kept wondering how he was always able to ‘get-up for the occasion’ with all of his clients especially when a lot of them were older women who were not all that attractive. Many male actors working in the adult film business will admit to taking Viagra or some other drug to guarantee an erection on cue. They also have women working behind-the-scenes as ‘fluffers’ who will give male performers a hand-job/oral sex, so when it’s time for his scene he’s erect, but Julian doesn’t have any of these things, so what’s his secret? The film makes it look like he can get-it-up on demand, which in reality I don’t think would always be the case.

I was also disappointed when Julian is told by the husband (Tom Stewart) of one of his clients to get rough with her by slapping her and Julian turns around with a shocked expression, but then the scene immediately cuts away without seeing what happened. I felt this was a crucial moment that needed to be played-out and it would’ve helped us understand Julian better by seeing how he responds to demands that he’s uncomfortable with. The film most likely cutaway because seeing him slap a woman would’ve made him unlikable to the viewer, but if he’s the type of person who will compromise his ethics to make money then we need to know this, or if he returns the money and walks away we need to see this as well.

Julian’s relationship with Michelle is ridiculous and unbelievable. Why would a guy who’s been to bed with hundreds of different women suddenly decide to fall-in-love with this one and why would a woman, who’s otherwise living a comfortable lifestyle, allow herself to fall for a man whose profession won’t allow him to be faithful to her? It doesn’t help either that Hutton gives a horribly wooden performance and it would’ve been far better had Julie Christie, who was the original choice for the role, played the part

The mystery angle is somewhat intriguing, but the wrap-up gets botched by suddenly instituting long pauses between scenes in which the screen goes completely black and silent for several seconds, which is jarring since this was not done at any earlier time and only helps to cement how over-the-top Paul Schrader’s directing is. Had more effort been put into character development instead of flashy lighting/camera angles we would’ve had a more interesting movie.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: February 1, 1980

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Paul Schrader

Studio: Paramount

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Video, YouTube

Once Bitten (1985)

once bitten

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: She needs virgin blood.

A sexy vampire Countess (Lauren Hutton) who lives in a sprawling Beverly Hills mansion along with her male servant (Cleavon Little) needs a regular dose of blood to keep up her youthful looks. The problem is that the blood must come from a virgin and since this is the ‘80s, where every teenager is fooling around, it becomes harder for her to come upon someone who still hasn’t had any sex. Fortunately for her she meets Mark (Jim Carrey) who has yet to lose his virginity and this is mainly because of the reluctance of his current girlfriend Robin (Karen Kopins). The Countess immediately takes Mark back to her place and gets it on with him and is able to get her much needed blood supply, but in the process she also turns Mark into a vampire and his friends and family begin to notice the changes.

The idea of mixing the vampire genre with an ‘80’s teen sex comedy was a bad one and should’ve been nixed at the concept stage and like with its main character never allowed to see the light of day. For one thing it’s much too tame and sterile. No scares or raunchiness and although there are a few mildly amusing bits there isn’t enough of them in a poorly paced film that quickly becomes quite boring. It also relies too heavily on broad stereotypes and caricatures with no footing in reality at all and a script littered with what today’s audiences will consider homophobic dialogue.

The vampire angle is poorly thought out. A person’s blood type doesn’t change once they’ve had sex making the ‘virgin blood’ idea quite stupid. Besides if she really wants to make sure to get someone who hasn’t had sex then why not just bite the necks of children? Granted it would be a very un-p.c. plot, but it also would allow for a creepier angle and besides it would then turn the kids into little vampires, which would bring in an extra edge to the story. The film also fails to explain what happens with the Carrey character as we see him slowly turning into a vampire a little bit each day, but not with what ultimately transpires once he fully does.

On the acting side I thought the two leads did quite well. Hutton is gorgeous and the idea of pairing a much older woman with a younger man is actually quite sexy. Carrey is also good. In some of his movies he overacts and becomes like a modern-day Jerry Lewis, but here he is more restrained and even genuinely engaging. My only complaint is that he is clearly past his teen years and at one point even states that he is going to college, but the scenes of him at school make it seem much more like he is still in high school.

If you are into vampire movies I’d say you could skip this one as it adds nothing new to the theme and for the most part treats the vampire idea in a very transparent way. As a teen sex comedy it also fails with a script that meanders too much including having an extended scene showing Carrey’s two nerdy high school buddies (Thomas Ballatore, Skip Lackey) trying to hit on two women at a laundromat that has nothing at all to do with the main plot and should’ve been cut. However, if your fans of Hutton or Carrey then it might be worth a look as they both give surprisingly solid performances despite the weak material.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: November 15, 1985

Runtime: 1Hour 34Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Howard Storm

Studio: The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video