Tag Archives: Sam Waterston

Three (1969)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Two guys one chick.

Taylor (Sam Waterston) and Bert (Robbie Porter) are two college chums spending their summer traveling through Europe. When they get to Italy they come upon a free-spirited young woman named Marty (Charlotte Rampling) who agrees to become their traveling companion, but underlying sexual tensions soon rise to the surface. Both men want to make a play for her, but resist because they fear it will ruin their friendship yet as the trip progresses the temptations get too strong to ignore.

Normally I enjoy a film with a laid back pace as I feel American movies tend to be too rushed and leave the viewer no time to allow the characters, story, or imagery to sink in. However, here it’s too slow with plot and character development at a minimum. The extraneous dialogue is not interesting and too much footage is given to capturing the Italian countryside, which makes this seem more like a travelogue.

Waterston is transparent as usual, which makes me wonder how he has managed to have the long career that he has had. Porter, who is better known as a composer, is better looking and much more dynamic and I was surprised that Rampling’s character doesn’t just gravitate towards him immediately as Waterston is dull and wimpy and not what most attractive women would want to consider.

Rampling is great and gives each scene an extra kick, which makes sitting through this meandering production slightly worth it, but the sexual tension is lacking. Supposedly this is what it’s all about, but for the most part it shies away from examining it even though it should’ve been constantly reinforced either through imagery, flashback or dialogue instead of being largely forgotten until the very, very end when it no longer mattered.

This was writer James Salter’s one-and-only foray behind the camera and it’s no surprise he never directed another one as he clearly shows no ability or understanding for pacing.  The characters are not unique enough to be captivating and one eventually begins to wonder why they’re bothering to watch it or what point the filmmakers had for even making it.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: December 23, 1969

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

Rated M

Director: James Salter

Studio: United Artists

Available: None at this time.

Sweet Revenge (1976)

sweet revenge

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Pretty lady steals cars.

Despite squatting in an abandoned house, having no job, no money and virtually no life Vurrla (Stockard Channing) becomes obsessed with getting herself a brand new Dino Ferrari. She knows how to steal cars, so she decides to steal a Porsche, resell it to unsuspecting buyers and then a few days later steal the same car back and resell it again and continue this process until she has secured enough to pay for the Ferrari. The plan works smoothly, but public defender Le Clerq (Sam Waterston) has been following her and determined that she turn herself in before she gets herself into even deeper trouble.

As I watched this movie I found myself quite perplexed as to how Leonard Maltin in his Movie Guide could’ve given this thing a ‘bomb’ rating. This is certainly not a four-star flick, but it’s far from being bad one either. The plot moves along at a nice breezy pace with an engaging combination of drama, action and humor. The characters are believable and interact with each other in interesting ways. The on-location shooting of Seattle, which was done by renowned cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond who died just this past New Year’s, is quite vivid and focuses on some of the city’s lesser known neighborhoods, which should be fun for those from the area as it is sure to bring back a flood of memories.

Channing is dynamic and especially enjoyable when she puts on different wigs and a variety of accents as she tries to sell the cars to different people and I wished these segments were played up more. Waterston’s character is much more controlled and practical making the two play off each other in revealing ways. Franklyn Ajaye lends great support as Vurrla’s streetwise friend and Richard Daughty is amusing as Vurrla’s dimwitted cohort and I was surprised that he seemingly disappeared off the face of the planet and never did a thing after this. This also marks the acting debut of Daryl Anderson who appears briefly getting out of his car and going inside only to have Vurrla sneak up and steal it a few minutes later.

On the negative side the film could’ve used a little more action. There is one car chase that occurs near the end, which turns inexplicably tragic and hurts the film’s otherwise lighthearted tone. The ending is frustratingly vague and outside of watching a Ferrari burn into a cinder offers no finality to the character’s eventual fate. There is also a segment where Channing and Daughty go shopping at a grocery store and for a brief couple of seconds the scene is shown through the lens of a black-and-white security camera making the viewer believe that the two are being monitored and will soon be arrested since they are shop lifting, but nothing ever happens, so why insert that shot if it serves no purpose?

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: June 16, 1976

Runtime: 1Hour 30Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Jerry Schatzberg

Studio: MGM

Available: DVD (Warner Archive)