Tag Archives: suzanne pleshette

Mister Buddwing (1966)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: He’s lost his memory.

A man (James Garner) wakes up one morning to find himself on a bench in Central Park unaware of how he got there or who he is. He finds a crumpled up piece of paper in his coat pocket and when he calls it a woman by the name of Gloria (Angela Lansbury) answers, but talking to her makes him even more confused. He then spends the day wondering around the city while coming up with the name Buddwing after he spots the word Budweiser on a passing truck and then looks up into the sky and sees the wings of a jet plane. He bumps  into women who remind him of someone that he knows as Grace, but every time he meets someone it just leads to more dead ends and things get even worse when he gets mistaken as being an escapee from a mental hospital.

The film is based on a novel by Evan Hunter and initially holds some intrigue. I was impressed by the opening shot that’s done with a cinematic flair. I was hoping especially with its evocative black-and-white cinematography and jazz score by Kenyon Hopkins that this would have a strong cinema vertite feel, but any potentially artsy style gets lost by a draggy script that bogs down in Buddwing’s past romantic memories that amounts to nothing more than extended talky scenes that cripples the mystery angle until you end up not caring what the answers are.

Garner’s usual appeal gets seriously strained, which is probably why in his memories ‘The Garner Files’ he calls this “The worst movie I ever made” and then asks “What was I thinking?”. Normally I admire actors that are willing to go out of their safety zone, but his constant deer-in-headlights look becomes tiring and one-dimensional and the crying that he does while inside Lansbury’s apartment seems insincere.

The one’s that come off best are the four women that he bumps into as he wonders around. All are portrayed by famous leading ladies: the fore mentioned Lansbury as well as Suzanne Pleshette, Katherine Ross, and Jean Simmons who give outstanding performances and helps keep the otherwise rocky picture afloat. However, during the flashback sequences the different actresses all end up playing the same Grace at different times, which I found confusing and off-putting.

The explanation for Buddwing’s amnesia, which apparently ends up being just the result of having some stressful event occurring in his life, is highly suspect as I’ve not read of this happening to anyone in real-life, or if it does it is extremely rare. Not only does the credibility get pushed, but Delbert Mann’s direction, with the exception of the opening shot, lacks creativity, which makes this already flat story even more of a strain to sit through.

Released: October 11, 1966

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Delbert Mann

Studio: MGM

Available: DVD-R (Warner Archive), Amazon Video, YouTube

The Power (1968)

the power 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Who has the power?

Professor Jim Tanner (George Hamilton) is the head of a scientific research group who come to realize that one of their members has strong telekinetic powers and is slowly killing off the other members one-by-one by fantastic and bizarre means. It is up to Jim and his assistant Margery (Suzanne Pleshette) to find out who it is and try to put a stop to it before they become his next victim.

There are definite shades to Agatha Christie’s classic mystery novel ‘And Then There Were None’ and in fact that title even gets mentioned here. Despite a pace that ebbs and flows Director Byron Haskin gives the proceedings a flashy and creative flair. Watching Jim getting attacked by toy soldiers in a display window is cool as is the part where he gets stranded in the middle of a desert. The ending features visuals of faces melting and skeletons dancing that reminded me a bit of the one in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I also enjoyed the scene showing an actual heart inside a man’s body getting squeezed and forcing it to stop.

The supporting cast is fabulous and almost of half of the film’s entertainment alone. Yvonne De Carlo is terrific in a brief, but fun bit as the tipsy wife of one of the victim’s. Gary Merrill is solid as a hard-bitten police detective and Aldo Ray is good as a menacing bad guy. Michael Rennie better known for his starring role in another sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still is effective here as the mysterious Arthur Nordlund, but my favorite of them all would have to Arthur O’Connell as the nervous and high-strung Henry Hallson. The look on his face after he is spun around at high speeds in a space compressor is probably the film’s best moment.

Where the film fails is that this mysterious person’s powers are much too broad with no limitations of any kind. I can handle the idea of telekinesis, but this guy can also make walls of buildings grow and make doorways disappear. He can even change the words on street lights to go from ‘Don’t Walk’ to ‘Don’t Run’. To me this made it seem too fabricated and far-fetched. Even in sci-fi there needs to be same perimeters and basis of logic of some kind and this film offers none. The fact that there is never any explanation given for how this person got these amazing powers, or what might have caused it makes it even weaker and hurts what is otherwise an interesting idea.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: February 21, 1968

Runtime: 1Hour 48Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Byron Haskin

Studio: MGM

Available: DVD (Warner Archive)