Seven Pounds

December 24, 2008


There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the one word review.  But I can’t let it go.  Nossir.  This is one of those movies that is so bad, it deserves to be talked about.  I implore you to see this movie; spend the money that you otherwise would’ve spent on illegal drugs or booze or hookers, throw that money away and laugh along with me.

I will now divulge anything and everything about this movie.  If you are one of those that don’t want to ruin the not-so surprise of this flick, don’t read on.   Seriously.  Major spoilers.  But, then again, how can you spoil crap?

Last time.  Don’t look if you plan on seeing this piece of shit.

Ok.  So Will Smith plays the Christ figure.  Rosario Dawson is Mary Magdalene and Barry Pepper is Judas, maybe (well, he can’t be Peter ’cause he doesn’t deny Chri-I mean, Will Smith, at the end).  Anyway, Smith plays a supposed IRS agent that makes house calls and trespasses on people’s property, assaults rich nursing home owners, harasses and insults blind people, and forces others to give baths to old ladies.  Oh, yeah, and he fixes decades-old printing presses in one night using nothing but three screwdrivers.  And maybe a hammer.

The non-linear narrative of the movie is that Smith harbors a secret (that’s guessed at in the first twenty minutes of the flick, if that) that makes him call 911 to report his own suicide within the first two minutes of the flick.  The rest of the movie tells us why Smith is going to commit suicide.  The problem is that it’s not really a mystery.  We figure out where this movie is going as soon as we meet Dawson, who just happens to be needing a brand new heart.  See where this is going?  Yeah, I did, too, but then I had to sit through another hour and a half for them to get there.

So Smith is using his own body as a donor–giving away parts of his body so others can live or lead happy lives or somesuch.  He also helps a battered lady by giving her and her two kids his house on the beach.  Nevermind that she has no job and she’s going to have to figure out some way to pay for the utilities and the taxes on that house.  Or what happens when she picks up the next boyfriend.  But at least he didn’t give her one of his hands or something.

It’s not a bad premise for a horror movie.  Except this is a romantic tragedy.  Well, the romance between Smith and Dawson, and the tragedy being this flick that they find themselves in.  Wouldn’t it have been better to have Smith and Dawson in love, her needing the heart, and Smith going out to kill someone to get that heart?  Oh, wait.  We can’t do that ’cause then Smith no longer becomes the Christ figure.  He’s just a murderer.

I blame the screenwriter, Grant Nieporte, for this piece of crap.  I blame him for the needless sentimentality.  For making Smith a nut; how else to explain someone doing this?  For putting a half-assed mystery that’s solved within the first act, and for taking a twisted idea and trying to make it romantic.  There is no fun in this movie, and it’s quite obvious that the Smith character needs help.

But that requires logic, of which this movie is in short supply.  Dawson ends up in ICU, and Smith is able to visit her, talk to her as Dawson takes off the oxygen line.  All the characters are idiots as they allow themselves to be talked to by Smith posing as an IRS agent without consulting a lawyer, or, when Smith pushes the nursing home administrator, without suing him and the government.  He’s an administrator.  First fucking thing he’s going to do is get his lawyer to sue Uncle Sam and Smith.

But that would mean the movie would have to be real.  Which it isn’t.

Smith somehow coerces his best friend, Barry Pepper, into helping him do this.  Barry needs help, too, incidentally.  I mean, I’ve heard of friendship, but this is ridiculous.

But the high point…the absolute peak of ridiculousness in this movie is the way Smith decides to commit suicide.

We’re shown a jellyfish, floating around in a tank, and Smith informs us that it’s a box jellyfish, “the most dangerous animal on the planet”.  Um, actually that would be man, but we’ll let that one go for the moment.  So we know the jellyfish is going to figure in the movie ’cause he brings it with him to the motel where he’s going to off himself.

Ok.  So we figure out that he’s going to use the jellyfish to kill himself.  Ridiculous, but, hey, it’s a fucking movie, right?

However…jellyfish live in warm waters, right?  So Smith calls 911 to report his suicide, gets in a tub of cold water filled with ice (better to preserve his heart, I’m guessing) and he dumps the jellyfish into the tub with him.  INTO A TUB FILLED WITH ICE COLD WATER!!

I’m thinking cutting the wrists probably would’ve worked better.  Probably less painful, if a jellyfish that size could’ve actually killed him.  But Smith is into pain.  We saw that as he altruistically gave his bone marrow to a little boy…without using an anesthetic.  I rolled my eyes so far into the back of my head during that scene that I could literally see behind me.

By the way, Dawson plays the heart failure character, and she’s got a month to live.  I was thinking she was all alone in the world, but come to find out she tells Smith that her sister and kids stopped by for a visit.  Now, I’m not exactly known for being generous or sympathetic, but if I found out my sibling only had about a month to live I’d probably be hanging out with her for more than a couple of days.  That’s just me, though.

Worst movie I’ve seen this year.


The Anderson Tapes

December 14, 2008

I’m a big Sydney Lumet fan.  I’d heard of The Anderson Tapes, but never got around to watching it until recently.  It’s been a few days since I watched it, and I’m still not sure what to make of it.

At first glance, it appears to be a light-hearted heist involving Anderson (Sean Connery), fresh out of prison, and his accomplices–including a baby-faced Christopher Walken as the safe cracker, and a prancing Martin Balsam as the flaming homosexual who knows what the good stuff is worth.  There’s also a couple others to round it out, but they’re given short shrift on the characterization chart.  It’s plot, plot, plot in these kinds of movies.

So Anderson gets the gang together, planning on robbing the luxury apartment building of all its worth; hitting all the apartments over a Labor Day weekend.  Oh, yeah, and Dyan Cannon plays Anderson’s girlfriend.

But…it’s called The Anderson Tapes, not The Anderson Building so we’ve got a lot of surveillance going on.  Private detectives, FBI, IRS, and, I think, some DEA guys.  Basically every federal agency is taping someone involved with the players in the flick. 

It works as a heist movie; maybe a little too cute at times, and maybe a little too trivial.  I mean, robbing an apartment building?  Yeah, yeah, it was based on a bestselling novel by Lawrence Sanders, but novels are obviously different from films.  I don’t think there’s enough weight to just make this a heist flick.

I haven’t read the novel, but from the reviews I’ve read it pretty much stays close to the source material.  So why the ambiguity?  You either like this or you don’t.

I liked it.  But, again, it just doesn’t have the weight a heist flick needs.  In Roger Ebert’s review, he thought by getting rid of the tapes angle it would’ve been up there with Rififi.  Roger’s full of shit.  (And if you haven’t seen Rififi, check it out.  Talk about weight…)  If you get rid of the tapes angle, there’s not much there.

Oh, there’s some great scenes ’cause it’s Sydney Lumet and if anyone knows his way around Manhattan, it’s him.  A couple stand out:  The police commisoner, strolling down the block where the robberies are taking place; very much alone, no traffic, no pedestrians, and just as you’re beginning to wonder if the director lost it (it’s Manhattan, there should be traffic), you see the Commisioner turn the corner and you see the crowds blocked off as the police surround the entire block.  

Another one involves a telephone operator receiving a call from Kansas (I think) about the robbery taking place in Manhattan.  Seems that the ashmatic kid from one of the apartments being robbed has a HAM radio.  Some guy in Kansas (or was it Texas?) got the call, called the operator and the operator patched him through to Manhattan.  It’s a long scene involving nothing but the Manhattan operator and two voices on a phone (the guy and the operator) as they try to convince the Manhattan operator to take the collect call.  If you’re under 30, you have no idea what you’re watching since it would be so foreign to you, but that scene alone is worth the price of admission.

Ok, so I’m saying it’s a lightweight heist flick so now you’re asking, “Why bother?  I’ll just wait for the remake.”  Yeah, you can do that, but Lumet is trying for something else here, which will be hammered home with as much subtlety as the other Rush Hour movies.

Surveillance plays a big part in this flick.  We’re introduced to Connery’s character via a television screen by a prison doctor putting on his own Jerry Springer show.   Quite prescient, too, actually.  Anyway, we’ve got surveillance all through the thing:  scenes of people slapping listening devices onto cars, bugs everywhere, magnetic reels of tape spinning all over the place…it’s almost out of place in this heist movie.

And that’s when it hits me that this isn’t a heist movie.  It’s a movie about tape, about the government’s ability to listen to people for whatever reason they want.  SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

All these government agencies know about the heist, but they don’t get involved ’cause it’s not their department.  Plus they don’t talk to each other.  They’ve got bigger fish to fry.  A robbery is beneath them.

It’s interesting.  As the robberies take place, we jump forward in time, to the aftermath, as the victims relate the circumstances of the robbery.  We cut back and forth in time…almost like we’re listening to a tape.

And here’s the ending so again SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS:

They fail.  Everyone involved in carrying out the robbery dies or is put in prison.  Even Connery’s character dies.  The movie literally ends with a shot a reel tape and a voice over informing us that the agencies that did all the surveillance erasing tapes, not wanting to get caught with wiretapping people without court orders.

Almost like the movie never happened.

This would be an interesting remake, given what we know the Bush Administration is doing/was doing regarding surveillance of Americans.  Let’s hope they get a writer as good as Frank Pierson, who went on to help Lumet make Dog Day Afternoon.  It’s almost The Anderson Tapes was a dress rehearsal for Dog Day.

Anyway even if you don’t like subtext, check this one out.

Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor

October 16, 2008

There was quite the hullabaloo when THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST came out.  However, what few people realize is that the character of Jesus, played by Willem Dafoe, was actually going to be one of the salesmen in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS.  It’s true.

What follows is a scene that was left on the cutting room floor after it was determined that the focus groups wanted Jesus to kick Blake’s ass, or, at least, turn him into a goat or something.  Blake was played by Alec Baldwin, and you can tell by this exchange that things were going to get a little heated.  Plus, Blake’s going to hell so of course he’s going to get a little heated.  

Blake: What’s the problem, pal?
Jesus: [wary] I didn’t call for you. Who are you?
Blake: Fuck you. That’s my name.
Jesus: You’re here to trick me.
Blake: And your name is “you’re wanting”, and you can’t play the man’s game, you can’t close them, and then tell your wife your troubles. ‘Cause only one thing counts in this world: get them to sign on the line which is dotted. You hear me you fuckin’ faggots?
Jesus: I’m not going to leave this circle, I’m not going to leave until you speak to me. No signs, no pain, just speak to me in human words. Whatever path you want, I’ll take. Love, or the axe, or anything else. Now if you want me to stay here and die, I’ll do that too, but you have to tell me.
Blake: You call yourself a salesman, you son of a bitch?
Jesus: No! I’m a liar. A hypocrite. I’m afraid of everything. I never tell the truth. I don’t have the courage.
Blake: You know why, mister? ‘Cause you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight.
Jesus:  I wish there was another way, but there isn’t. I have to die on the cross.
Blake: I came here because Mitch and Murray asked me to. They asked me for a favor. I said the real favor, follow my advice and fire your fucking ass because a loser is a loser.
Jesus: You think you’re special?
Blake: You wanna work here – close! You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you cocksucker? You can’t take this, how can you take the abuse you get on a sit? You don’t like it, leave.
Jesus: If I was a woodcutter, I’d cut. If I was a fire, I’d burn. But I’m a heart and I love. That’s the only thing I can do.
Blake: You can’t close the leads you’re given, you can’t close shit, *you are* shit, hit the bricks pal, and beat it, ’cause you are going *out*.
Jesus: It is accomplished!


October 12, 2008

I thought BODY OF LIES was a good flick.  It’s not CITIZEN KANE, hell, it’s not even THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, but I thought it was a solid flick and one worth the price of admission.  The script by William Monahan was decent (no Academy Award winner, though), and the actors were strong, especially Mark Strong as Hani, the head of Jordanian Intelligence.

What surprises me, though, are the critical reactions.  The ones that just don’t like it and say it’s oddly conventional.

Well, I guess it really doesn’t surprise me.  The film is conventional in how it’s shot, and, I guess, the subject matter since we do seem to be in some sort of war on terror according to the head chimp at the White House.  But it’s conventional only in the technical aspects. 

I’ll now discuss the flick like you’ve already seen it.  If you haven’t then don’t blame me, I just work here. 


Ridley Scott and William Monahan have crafted a blistering indictment on the US war on terror.  These guys are basically saying we don’t know what we’re doing.  Russell Crowe plays the overweight, uppper-upper middle class bureaucrat; a guy who lives on the phone, dispensing orders of life and death like he’s a waiter reciting that day’s lunch specials all in the service of “saving civilization”.  Dicaprio plays the CIA operative on the ground, fluent in Arabic, carrying out the orders with some pang of regret, but ultimately doing his job the best he can though he’s handcuffed by Crowe. 

Ok, so we have Crowe obviously the metaphor for the entire US government.  We see Crowe giving out his orders at soccer games, dropping his kids off at school, and while grocery shopping.  He’s fighting for the US, but it’s a part-time gig, you know?  He can do this, and still maintain his standard of living.  Dicaprio is the stand-in for the US military.  A can-do guy, beaten and bloody, and able to win this thing if only Crowe would stop tying Dicaprio’s hands behind his back, and listening to the generals…oops, I mean, and listening to him since he’s the one on the ground.

Yeah, we’re beat in the head a few too many times with these heavy metaphors, but what I thought was neat about the flick was the Monahan and Scott basically gave us the two players in this war on terror, the US government and the US military, but then still said, “Wait.  That’s not all there is too it.”  And promptly plays with the audience’s expectations without the audience realizing it.

The Jordanian Intelligence is the stand-in for the rest of the world.  Hani only has one condition when he’s told that he’ll be working with Dicaprio:  Don’t lie to me. 

But this is not RENDITION.  Jake Gyllenhal isn’t saving anyone in Scott’s movie.  This movie’s hero is not Crowe or Dicaprio.  The hero is Hani.  He’s impeccably dressed, smooth and suave…He’s Cary Grant from NOTORIOUS.  I don’t think this can be stressed enough and I wonder if that’s where some of the criticism comes in:  It’s got a bunch of US movie stars in it, it’s a very liberal view on the war on terror, not because it’s telling us anything new, but because it tells us that Hani is the one that really knows how to fight terrorism, really knows how to conduct this war, and AND saves Dicaprio’s ass at the end.

This picture is telling us that the US is inept in the war on terror, but it goes one step further and tells us that it’s the Middle Eastern intelligence agencies that are going to save our bacon.  We watch a movie in which the cavlary arrives, saving Dicaprio from becoming another terrorist victim, but it’s a Middle-Eastern cavalry that does the life saving, not the US.

I think this can’t be stressed enough.  In a standard, “conventional” Hollywood picture on the war on terror, we would’ve seen Russell Crowe be the first person to visit Dicaprio in the hospital, saying something like, “See I told you you should’ve trusted me.”  Or some such horseshit.  This way we would’ve had some comfort in the fact that, yeah, Crowe’s character was a prick, but he knew what he was doing.  When, in fact, Crowe’s character doesn’t know really know what he’s doing, and he’s fucking things up.  It’s Hani who knows what he’s doing, and that’s hammered home at the end of the movie since he’s the first person to visit Dicaprio in the hospital.

So yeah, this movie isn’t conventional by any means, and I think it’s a sly dig at not only the US war on terror, but a sly dig at Hollywood where the “hero” is actually a foreigner.

The Enforcer

October 9, 2008

Ok so a bomb goes off in the restroom of police headquarters and Dirty Harry has a hunch who did it and Inspector Kate Moore (Tyne Daly) spots the bad guy.  Of course we cannot have logic in something like this so instead of alerting every other cop in the area and cordoning off the block and doing things that would normally happen in real life (but not movie life) we get to see Dirty Harry and Moore chase after the suspect.

And this scene exemplifies the problem with The Enforcer.

It’s way too long, not all that exciting, has inappropriate poppy, jazzy music, played too much for laughs, and ends with the suspect being tackled in a church where the hip young priest berates Harry for excessive force, calling him the worst cop ever.

The other problem is even worse.  Tyne Daly plays a female cop who is promoted to Inspector for no other reason than she’s a woman.  It’s the mid-70s so the feminist movement was in full swing, and women were demanding to break free of the male-generated stereotypes of women.  I guess the writers, Sterling Siliphant and Dean Reisner, thought they could marry one of the hot-button issues of the day with the classic police officer archetype that is Dirty Harry Callahan.  But they failed miserably. 

Daly’s character spent 10 years in the personnel department and has no experience with investigative work.  Callahan is always asking her to stay outside while he questions suspects, or checks on an autopsy.  She’s the one literallly left holding the bag while he chases a suspect across the rooftops.  She’s just not a good cop. 

It’s crap.  The filmmakers apparently were trying to dispel stereotypes, but, instead, subtly reinforce the “women can’t hack it” stereotype.  Which is a little strange given the time frame this flick was made, and that it was Eastwood who helped make it.  Don’t get me wrong, Eastwood’s made some bad movies (The Rookie, anyone?), but it’s never been as blatantly insipid as this one. 

The Enforcer really does play as a classic, cheesy ’70s flick; the worst kind of tv cop show.  But Eastwood’s in it so you know it’s at least watchable crap.

Paul Newman

September 28, 2008

Paul Newman died Friday. 

I was a big fan because my dad was a big fan.  He fancied himself a Paul Newman type,  and was gracious when people (mostly women) told him he looked like Paul Newman–thankfully, I was not cursed with those looks. 

But Dad introduced me to Cool Hand Luke, and when you’re 13 or so and you’re not getting along well with your family or yourself, it’s easy to identify with the guy who doesn’t seem to fit into the world around him.  After that movie, I became a fan.  Never really thought he was the best looking guy around so I never truly understood why people always seemed to call him “beautiful”.  Don’t get me wrong, he was a good looking guy, but, perhaps it WAS because my dad did look a little like Paul Newman, I just never really saw that aspect of him.  It was there, but it was like a suit on him so other than noting it…well, that was it.  It was just a suit. 

But beneath the suit, underneath the “movie star good looks” was a guy who could act.  I think William Goldman said it in one of the commentaries, Harper or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, that Newman was a great character actor trapped in a leading man’s body.  True.

Is he the last movie star?  I’m trying to think of any others, maybe Nicholson?  Beatty?  (Warren, not Ned, though Ned’s a fine actor, too).  The list is very short.  But I think it’s Newman who is truly the last great movie star, who helped usher in the movies of the anti-hero, and who seemed to start the habit of actors thinking they’re all race car drivers.

Plus, he’s the only movie star that sold salad dressing, turning it into a mult-million dollar franchise and giving away hundreds of millions to charity.  Seriously.  How many people can say that they were world-reknowned for their acting, AND their philanthropy?  I don’t know, but my guess is going to be…one.

I didn’t know the guy, just what I saw onscreen, though I did visit New York once which is by Connecticut, where he lived, so I did get that close to him, and all I have is praise, envy, awe, and incredulousness that one guy had all that.  I mean, if it came out that Newman ate live babies for breakfast every morning, I still don’t think I’d care.  So yeah, I’m a fan, emphasis on fanatic.

Newman lived a good long life, had his share of tragedy so he didn’t lead a charmed life, but he knew what he had, made do with what he had, and came out on top, while still giving to others.  What more could one ask of one’s life? 

Rest in peace, Mr. Newman.


September 17, 2008

Back in the late ’60s early 70’s, when the hippies seemed to be all over the place with their long hair, funky mustaches, and lack of cleanliness the American Indian was considered THE Hippie.  And they took drugs, too.  Hung out in sweat lodges, and just kinda had a grand old time.

LITTLE BIG MAN opened in 1970 and told the white audience that American Indians were more than the cliche.  Granted it took a white man, Dustin Hoffman as Jack Crabb, to let us know this ’cause Lawd knows we can’t just have a movie about American Indians without a white movie star telling us how bad we mistreated/misunderstood the American Indian.  Oops.  Channeling Spike Lee for a moment.  (By the way, the book by Thomas Berger is much more detailing in breaking down this romantic notion of the American Indian; the movie just skims the surface at times so pick up the book if you get a chance.)

Anyway…LITTLE BIG MAN really is a good movie.  I can have a field day with the simplicity inherent in its depictions (and, at times, I think some outright lies) of American Indians and the Old West, but, at the time, there were few movies that tried to treat the subject of white man/indian relations with some semblance of honesty.  A MAN CALLED HORSE, released the same year, also did this, but LITTLE BIG MAN had higher aspirations.  It not only wanted to dispel the myths of Hollywood American Indians, but also to dispel the myths of the Hollywood Western. 

So we have nebbish Dustin Hoffman playing the lead role, Richard Mulligan as a Custer who is both egomaniacal AND ignorant, and Chief Dan George as Old Lodge Skins, the leader of his tribe who is both funny and wise without being pretentious and solemn about it.  Actually, he’s just a bit nuts, the old coot.  But he plays the chief as his own man instead of the caricature that Hollywood gave us in the past.

SPOILERS:  If you haven’t seen LITTLE BIG MAN, it’s basically an episodic movie where Jack Crabb is captured by the Cheyenne and raised by them, only to be re-captured, so to speak, by the white man and raised by religious folk, played by a hot and bothered Faye Dunaway.  Crabb becomes a snake-oil salesman, a gunfighter, a store owner, a drunk, an Indian scout, and I think he drives a taxi, too.

Arthur Penn, the director, deliberately set out to overturn the myths, and he did a great job.  All the performances are wonderful, the sets, blahblahblah, you get the picture.  I think at times, the movie strives too much for comedy and overreaching, sometimes slipping in its depictions of its characters—Mulligan’s turns as Custer can be tiresome and one wonders why his men just don’t shoot the bastard since we don’t get any real sense of WHY these guys would follow this knucklehead other than the movie tells us it’s Custer.   

But there are scenes like Custer’s first attack on the Cheyenne village where the brutality of the massacre is never flinched at; or when Crabb is startled and scared when Wild Bill Hickock shoots someone he doesn’t even know, a confrantation enabled only because Hickock is a gunfighter and the man wanted to make a name for himself; or the end scene where Old Lodge Skins takes Little Big Man with him, to accompany the old man to his death.  Old Lodge Skins lies on the ground and proceeds to tell Little Big Man that he will now die.  A moment passes as the rain starts to fall and we see the old man blink at the raindrops falling on his face.  Little Big Man looks at the old man with love as the old man asks him if he’s still in this world.  Little Big Man tells him yes, and Old Lodge Skins says, “I was afraid of that.”

And we’re left with the haunting image of Crabb, now over 120 years-old and recounting his exploits to a historian? reporter? holding his head in his hand as he realizes that he is also still in this world.  Great image to end the movie.

Scenes From the Cutting Room Floor

August 13, 2008

People think that the first introduction to the Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb character was in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.  Not true.  STAR TREK 2 was originally going to be called THE WRATH OF GUMB, but test audiences were a little put off by the sexuality of Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb.  Plus, more than a couple of Trekkies later wrote some fan fiction where Dr. McCoy performed the sex-change operation for Gumb; where Gumb later become yet another conquest for Captain James T Kirk.  The ‘T’ stands for Tyrannosaurus Dick.

Here’s a sample of what we missed.  Classic dialogue between Capt. Kirk (William Shatner) and Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb (Ted Levine).

Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb: It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it is told.
Kirk: Gumb, you bloodsucker. You’re gonna have to do your own dirty work now, do you hear me? Do you?
Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb: It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.
[to his dog, Precious]
Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb: Yes, it will, Precious, won’t it? It will get the hose!
Kirk: He’s nothing, if not consistent!
Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb: Now it places the lotion in the basket.
Kirk: You’ve managed to kill everyone else but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target.
Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb: It places the lotion in the basket.
Kirk: Gumb…Gumb, you’ve got Genesis, but you don’t have me. You were going to kill me, Gumb. You’re gonna have to come down here. You’re gonna have to come down here.
Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb: Put the fucking lotion in the basket!


August 11, 2008

A man’s got to know his limitations.  A line from Clint Eastwood’s MAGNUM FORCE that was routinely used by my friend when we hit the clubs and I’d strike out with the good looking chicks who wanted nothing to do with me. 

For the three people that don’t know, MAGNUM FORCE stars Clint Eastwood and his hair.  His hair did get separate billing this flick.  Quite a shock of it, too.  This is the flick that’s notable for having David Soul and Robert Urich as vigilante cops.  And don’t miss Eric “Otter” Stratton as another of the vigilante cops.  Good stuff.

Now the flick itself is not very good.  C’mon.  You know it’s not good, even with Mark Twain holding a gun on Dirty Harry, and berating Harry every chance he gets.  (As an aside, Holbrook tried to get his hair its own billing, too, but there were issues with trailers, and the hair lost out to the star of the flick.)

But the reason to watch it is ’cause it is so unaplogetic in its treatment of cops and vigilantes.  I think it wanted to say some deep things about it, but then said, fuck it, it’s got Clint Eastwood in it and it’s written by John Milius  and Michael Cimino so how fucking subtle can we get?  It’s not like they were making CITIZEN KANE.  No, we just want to see the bad guys get killed, and Dirty Harry do some detectin’ ’cause apparently the rest of the SFPD were busy doing other things other than police work. 

This came out a year before DEATH WISH and I think it captures the “average joe’s” attitude at the time:  the bad guys had rights and the victims did not.  Even more so than DIRTY HARRY, MAGNUM FORCE reinforced the thought that all the bad guys were getting away with murder and the cops were powerless to do anything about it.  The bad guys were getting off on technicalities so a rogue band of cops took the law into their own hands.  Justice was being served, though it was reflected through a lens of simplistic propaganda since Harry was really nothing but a vigilante with a badge anyway.  I mean, he pretended he was a pilot in order to get on board the hijacked plane.  (Another aside:  the guy playing the co-pilot deserved an Oscar.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a great deadpan reaction when Harry asks him to start the flight sequence or whatever the hell pilots do.  Makes me think that the guy was an actual co-pilot and no one told him they were making a movie.)

The police work is all fucked up.  Harry dismantles a bomb in his mailbox ’cause he’s THAT good, while he can’t get in touch with his partner to let him know the same thing.  I guess his partner forgot to wear his pager that day.  So instead of calling the cops to let them know about the bomb, Harry spends the next six days or so on the telephone trying to get in touch with his partner.

What else?  Silencers used on revolvers.  Revolvers that never seem to run out of bullets EXCEPT when they’re on the police range ’cause, more than likely, it was a real range with real cops who called bullshit on ’em everytime they tried to pretend they had thousands of bullets.  Mark Twain leading a group of vigilantes even though everybody knows Mark Twain would never do something like that.

Seriously though, this is one of those movies that you need to rent and watch with your buddies just to point out the fiction ’cause even when you’re doing that you’ve got Eastwood and his hair doing a slow burn throughout the flick.  Hell, Harry is quite the chick magnet: A drunk/crazy cop’s wife hits on him, and the little Asian chick downstairs from his apartment wants to fuck Harry. 

You can’t take this movie seriously.  Just sit back and let the right-wing propaganda envelop you.

Scenes from the cutting room floor

July 25, 2008

Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland) from THE WIZARD OF OZ talks with Wizard (Peter Boyle) from TAXI DRIVER.  They later had sex, but this footage was lost during an impromptu bondage gangbang where the film was used to bind Rita Hayworth’s wrists to the bedposts while Charlie Chaplin, George Burns, and Errol Flynn took turns.  (The rumors that the sex was so heated–it was said that Burns fucked like a chimp on crack–that the film negative burst into flames is just that:  rumors.)


Wizard:  Look at it this way. A man takes a job, you know? And that job – I mean, like that – That becomes what he is.
Dorothy:  Who said that?
Wizard:  It’s not Bertrand Russell.  But what do you want?
Dorothy:  A place where there isn’t any trouble.  Do you suppose there is such a place?  It’s not a place you can get to by a boat or a train.  It’s far, far away.  Behind the moon, beyond the rain.
Wizard:  You know, like – You do a thing and that’s what you are. Like I’ve been a cabbie for thirteen years. Ten years at night. I still don’t own my own cab. You know why? Because I don’t want to. That must be what I want. To be on the night shift drivin’ somebody else’s cab. You understand? I mean, you become – You get a job, you become the job.
Dorothy: Did you say something?
Wizard:  One guy lives in Brooklyn. One guy lives in Sutton Place.
Dorothy:  I’m Dorothy Gale, from Kansas.
Wizard:  You got a lawyer. Another guy’s a doctor. Another guy dies. Another guy gets well. People are born, y’know? I envy you, your youth. Go on, get laid, get drunk. Do anything. You got no choice, anyway. I mean, we’re all fucked. More or less, ya know.  
Dorothy:  Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there’s a land I once heard of, once in a lullaby…