Tag Archives: Stephen Collins

Brewster’s Millions (1985)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: He spends thirty million.

Richard Pryor plays Monty Brewster a struggling baseball pitcher in the minor leagues who has never earned more than $11,000 in a year, but finally gets his chance to be rich via a deceased uncle (Hume Cronyn) who leaves him a vast fortune, but with conditions. He must spend $30 million in 30 days in order to get $300 million and if not whatever is left over from the unspent $30 million will be given over to a law firm. He is also given the option to accept $1 million upfront with no strings, but he chooses the challenge only to find that spending a lot of money is even harder than making it.

The film is based on the 1902 novel of the same name by George Barr McCutcheon and this marked the seventh film version of that story. The novel though does things differently. In that version Brewster has already inherited one million, but given the chance to attain seven million if can spend the one million during a full year, which is a little more believable. Watching Brewster trying to spend the 30 million on any dumb thing that comes along gets dizzying and hard to keep track of until it eventually plays itself out by becoming a one-joke concept throwing out the same punchline over-and-over. Why the amount was raised to 30 million and the time span to spend it shortened isn’t clear. Possibly it was for inflation or simply to make it ‘more comical’, but it ends up getting wildly overblown.

With so many people out there who are poor and desperate it’s hard to be sympathetic to Brewster’s dilemma. Spending a lot of money foolishly simply to serve his own greed and attain even more isn’t exactly a noble mission. Had he at least tried to spend it on things that could help others, like in the novel, it might’ve made a little more of an emotional impact. The Pryor character is also portrayed as having very little confidence and therefore I would think in reality he would’ve just accepted the million, which in his eyes would’ve been a lot of money anyways and never bothered to take the challenge, which most anyone else would’ve found monumental and impossible.

Pryor isn’t funny at all and John Candy is far more amusing as his loyal friend, but unfortunately isn’t seen enough. Stephen Collins is good as the duplicitous Warren Cox and this also marks David White’s final film appearance, who is best known for playing Larry Tate on ‘Bewitched’ and whose name is strangely not listed in the film’s opening credits despite having a major role. Yakov Smirnoff and Rick Moranis can also be seen in brief bits.

The film was directed by Walter Hill who later referred to this as ‘an aberration’ and having only done it to ‘improve his bank account’. His forte is in action flicks and his attempt at comedy turns terribly flat from its first frame to its last. It is also in many ways similar to Trading Places, which coincidentally was written by the same screenwriter Hershel Weingrod, but that film was far better.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: May 22, 1985

Runtime: 1Hour 41Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Walter Hill

Studio: Universal

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

Loving Couples (1980)

loving couples

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 1 out of 10

4-Word Review: Everybody is fooling around.

The marriage between Evelyn and Walter (Shirley MacLaine, James Coburn) has grown stale. When dashing womanizer Greg (Stephen Collins) sets his sights on Evelyn and makes a play for her she is all too happy to take him up on it. Then Greg’s girlfriend Stephanie (Susan Sarandon) finds out about the affair and tries to put a stop to it by informing Walter only to find that they have a special chemistry and soon they are in a relationship as well, but the more time the couples spend with their new mates the more they end up longing for their old ones.

The flat, unoriginal script was written by famed TV-show writer Martin Donovan and is not worthy for even a second-rate sitcom. Outside of a brief amusing segment where Walter demonstrates to Stephanie how to perform brain surgery by using a hamburger bun as a patient’s cranium there is nothing much that is funny. The plot itself is dull and placid and becomes increasingly more boring as it goes along.

The Greg character and how the women respond to him is a big issue. His methods at seduction could easily get him charged with harassment or stalking these days, but he is also an obvious player and yet Shirley MacLaine’s character still gets into a relationship with him despite the fact that she is old enough to know better and then ends up stung and shocked when he starts fooling around with another woman even though anyone else with half-a-brain could have easily predicted it.

Stephanie’s attempts to somehow ‘win him back’ when she finds out that he is cheating on her is equally absurd since by her own admission he has already done it several times before with other woman, so why waste time trying to stop this latest fling when he’ll most likely start it up with another woman regardless?

The film lacks any quarreling, which could have spiced things up. Instead when they find out about their partner’s transgressions the conversations are civil to a sterile degree, which is not only uninteresting, but unrealistic. Let’s face it all couples fight and if you can’t get into a shouting match with your spouse when you find out they’ve been cheating then when can you?

Coburn manages to be engaging despite the weak material, but his curly silver haired mop-top looks better suited for a male gigolo than an otherwise staid and conservative middle-aged doctor. Helena Carroll has a few witty lines as the couple’s maid and she should’ve been given more screen time, but it was actually Sarandon that I liked the best as she plays a shy, slightly naïve character that was unusual for her.

This is quite similar to A Change of Seasons, which came out later that same year and also starred MacLaine and although that film was certainly no classic it is still far superior to this one.

My Rating: 1 out of 10

Released: October 24, 1980

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Jack Smight

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: DVD

Between the Lines (1977)

between the lines

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Newspaper get corporate takeover.

This is a look at an underground/counter-culture newspaper staff and the conflicts and concerns that they have at being taken over by a no-nonsense corporate owner (Lane Smith).

The film almost immediately takes you back to the bygone era of the late 70’s. The attitudes and conversations are realistic for that period and anyone who lived through it will most assuredly feel nostalgic .John Heard, Jeff Goldblum, and Bruno Kirby are engaging in their respective parts as is most of the cast. Stephen Collins is good also, but in an unusual role for him as he usually plays nice sensitive types, but here is a more driven, intense, and confrontational. This also works as a good unofficial statement to the death of the counter-culture movement and the eventual rise of materialism.

The story starts out well as it looks at the inside workings of an underground newspaper, but then spends too much of the middle part focusing on the relationships of some of the characters. Only at the end when the new owner takes over does it get back to the newspaper angle. Unfortunately it concludes just as things are getting interesting and we never get to see how the characters survive and adjust to the takeover. The film would have been much stronger and original had it stuck to scenarios involving the newspaper business and scrapped the relationship stuff, which tended to be derivative. Jon Korkes and Michael J. Pollard’s characters are seen too little and needed more screen time.

Also, when the film deals with the relationships there seems to be too much of a feminist bias as the men are always shown to be the ones at fault due to their ‘insensitive and selfish natures’ while the women come off the ones who are ‘reasonable and unfairly neglected’. This could be a product of the fact that it was directed by a woman as well as the era where men were somehow supposed to feel guilty simply because they were men.

This is fun as a time capsule as well as a great chance to see young stars in the making. However, the story does not take advantage enough of its original concept and ends up dealing with a lot of the same old scenarios and story lines that we’ve all seen before. Director Joan Micklin Silver and John Heard teamed up again two years later for Chilly Scenes of Winter, which I felt was better.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released:  April 27, 1977

Runtime: 1Hour 41Minutes

Rated R

Director: Joan Micklin Silver

Studio: Midwest Films

Available: DVD (MGM Vault)