Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Searchers (1956)

John Wayne Western Film Fest Movie #15

Synopsis: Post-Civil War Archie Bunker and Meathead go a-killin'. 

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “He lost one war. He wasn’t going to lose another.”

What Did I Learn?: Comanche Indians believe they need their eyes to get into the spirit world after death. So if you really want to fuck with them, desecrate a corpse or two.

You Might Like This Movie If: You've ever gone searching.

Really?: 1) You know, five years is a loooooong time for Ethan to chase after a girl he barely met before the raid. 2) Funny how Ethan never has to pay out that reward for information - Futterman attempts to kill Ethan and Martin, and the Mexican refuses on the grounds that it's blood money.  3) So wait - Ethan and Martin spend five years together on Debbie's trail, Martin has a girl waiting for him at home, and Ethan STILL won't let him enjoy a glass of tequila?

Rating: I might have been a bit hasty last year when I called The Shootist "Wayne's best film", because The Searchers certainly gives it a run for its money. Beautifully filmed, The Searchers isn't a typical John Wayne Western; Ethan Edwards is a vicious (yet strangely sympathetic) racist, and easily Wayne's darkest role. The Duke gets a chance to act in this film, and he's quite good. The story is fairly straightforward: a tribe of Comanches kidnaps a young girl, and Ethan's rescue mission slowly turns into a gritty determination to kill her, rather than allow her to become part of the tribe. It's powerful and disturbing stuff, especially in a post-9/11 world, and the only thing preventing me from giving The Searchers a perfect score are the corn-pone comedy scenes featuring the nice Swedish family and the girl Martin leaves behind - they really don't fit well with the main storyline. Highly recommended. 9/10 stars.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The War Wagon (1967)

John Wayne Western Film Fest Movie #14

Synopsis:  All-American champion of law, order, God, the flag and the Republican Party fights injustice in the Old West by, um... robbing an armored stagecoach?!?! And he's on parole?! WTF?  

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: "John Wayne teams up with Kirk Douglas in The War Wagon, an action-packed western." 

What Did I Learn?: Apparently, John Wayne wore the same pink-shirt, brown leather vest combo in every Western.

Really?: 1) Is it just me, or does the War Wagon look as though it would tip over at the first sharp turn? 2) So, Indians can't tell the difference between gold dust and flour? 3) Gee... the heist conspiracy pretty much acknowledges that a lot of Indians are going to get shot before the War Wagon bites the dust. Sure, the Chief is more-or-less ok with sacrificing some of his men, but this seems ethically dubious. 4) So, Pierce could basically send Jackson (Wayne) back to jail at any point, and he doesn't take advantage of the situation?

Rating: The War Wagon is an odd little Western, in the sense that Wayne plays against type as an ex-con (albeit a framed ex-con, who was cheated out of his land by the villain) who plans and executes a heist with a little help from Kirk Douglas as a smartass gunslinger/safecracker, a boozy demolitions expert, and a few others. Wayne and Douglas work well together - in part because their characters aren't really friends, so much as rivals with a grudging respect for each other, and the film is a lot of fun. 8/10 stars.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hondo (1953)

John Wayne Western Film Fest Movie #13

Synopsis:  Half-Native American cowpoke rescues troubled family in Apache territory, and... oh whatever. It's another John Wayne movie where he swaggers, shoots everyone, and bloviates a bunch of pithy-yet-questionable maxims.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: "The year is 1874, and the whites have broken their treaty with the Apache Nation. Hondo Lane (John Wayne), a US Cavalry dispatch rider, encounters a young woman (Geraldine Page) and her son, living along in Apache territory. Hondo, half-Indian himself, is troubled at having to fight his brethren in an all-out uprising." 

What Did I Learn?: According to Hondo, "everybody gets dead." 

Really?: 1) Does anyone think Wayne looks half-Indian? Anyone? 2) I have to say the last few minutes of the film are a bit pat and unconvincing; I had a hard time believing a half-Apache would comment (without any passion): "end of a way of life", and then ride merrily to California knowing full well the US Cavalry is on its way to wipe out the remaining warriors.  

Rating: Clocking in at 83 minutes, Hondo is one of Wayne's shorter-but-better Westerns; he and Geraldine Page share some steamy chemistry, and the film takes a nuanced, and surprisingly respectful view of the Apaches, even though they are the main "villains" in the movie. Much like Robert Shaw's Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin and Marian, the Apache Chief Vittorio (Michael Pate), comes across as a fair, and honourable man, especially when he takes Angie's (Page) son under his wing. 8/10 stars.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Stagecoach (1939)

John Wayne Western Film Fest Movie #12 [Wow - this is officially the oldest film ever reviewed on my blog. Only Citizen Kane (1941), The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Casablanca (1942) come close.]

Synopsis: Four decades (or over a century in movie years) before Clark W. Griswold and his family took that ill-fated trip to Wallyworld, John Wayne proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that cross-country land travel sucks, big time.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: "All aboard for the most legendary ride in the West!"

What Did I Learn?: According to the Duke, you can't break out of jail and into society in the same week. 

Really?: 1) I'm a little surprised the Indians didn't think of shooting the horses - that would have been an effective strategy for stopping the stagecoach.2) Holy cow - the Ringo Kid (Wayne) plays a huge role in getting the coach to safety, and then Gatewood tries to get him arrested when the reach town? I had a bit of trouble believing that. 3) Funny how the Apaches manage to shoot the least interesting/most inconsequential characters during their attack. 4) Hmm...throughout the film, everyone is concerned the Ringo Kid is going to get himself killed when he faces off against the Plummer gang, yet don't prove to be all that tough. The ending is a bit of a let-down.

Rating: With a few exceptions, I'm not a big fan of pre-1950s movies, so I was pleasantly surprised by Stagecoach; it's an interesting interplay of several very different (and quite troubled) characters as they travel through dangerous territory. Thomas Mitchell is a lot of fun as the nearly-always drunk Doctor Boone. 7.5/10 stars.

Friday, July 19, 2013

"McLintock!" (1963)

John Wayne Western Film Fest Movie #11

Synopsis: It's a Western version of The Taming of the Shrew, with corn-pone slapstick comedy and a creepy celebration of domestic violence.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: "Three decades after its original theatrical release, one of the most sought after motion pictures in the history of home video has finally arrived."

What Did I Learn?: In the Old West, cowboys apparently got into fistfights two or three times a day, and never suffered any serious brain or bodily injuries. 

Really?: Ho-ly shit. I'm not a raging feminist by ANY stretch of the imagination, but this movie is too much... I can't believe G.W. (Wayne) would allow an employee to spank his daughter with an iron shovel. And then the movie ends with Wayne chasing his (admittedly nasty) wife around town, putting her over his knee, and spanking her with a similar shovel to the roaring approval of several hundred ass-kissing witnesses. 

Rating: If your idea of hilarity is to watch John Wayne fall down the stairs (or into a giant mudhole) about 17 or 18 times, you'll find "McLintock!" to be a laugh riot. Personally, I think this film is atrocious; there's nothing funny about wife-beating (see "What Did I Learn?"), but the movie has other problems, too: Wayne's ultra-conservative views are presented with all the subtlety of a dumptruck (the oily governor of the territory is named "Cuthbert H. Humphrey"), and the humour is simply loud and stupid. I'll give "McLintock!" two stars for the mudhole scene, but Jeez...I cannot recommend this movie. 2/10 stars. 

Would It Work For a Bad Movie Night?: Take a drink every time the Duke opines on the evils of charity.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

John Wayne Western Film Fest Movie #10

Synopsis: It's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington meets Rio Bravo.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Ranking with Stagecoach as one of the greatest of its genre, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is the modern-day Western to beat all Westerns.”

What Did I Learn?: If somebody asks you to set some half-filled paint cans along a fence for target-shooting, don't do it, just don't.

You Might Like This Movie If: A certain song about life in the Old West means a great deal to you. [Ha - and you thought I was going to post THIS].

Really?: 1) Link Appleyard has to be the world's worst Marshall. Why does he have the job when it's obvious he has no intentions of ever standing up to Valance? 2) Funny how young Pompey is as bald as a cue ball, yet he has a head of white hair in the scenes that take place years later. 3) If Tom resents Ranse for stealing his girl, you have to wonder why he does him such a huge favour near the end... is out of his dislike for Liberty Valance? Does he secretly admire Ranse's courage, and wants to help him out?

Rating: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a magnificent western featuring two very different types of hero - who don't particularly like each other for good reason - and one of the all-time nastiest villains to ever grace the silver screen. It's a thought-provoking movie, with a number of themes: the meaning of courage, Western America's transition from lawless frontier, and the myth-making of later years. The film has some problems: it was shot in black and white, mostly on soundstages without natural scenery, there isn't a lot of action, and both Wayne and Stewart are far too old to portray young men. Still, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is highly recommended. 9/10 stars.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fort Apache (1948)

John Wayne Western Film Fest Movie #9 (Please click the links to read my reviews of The Shootist, The Comancheros, True Grit, The Sons of Katie Elder, Rio Lobo, El Dorado, RioBravo, and Big Jake)

Synopsis: Anal-retentive, by-the-book Colonel single-handedly provokes war with hostile Native Americans. But first, A WALTZ!

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Colonel John Thursday (Henry Fonda) is an embittered man. Despite an excellent war record, he’s stuck with the command of Fort Apache, a remote southwest garrison. So Thursday comes up with a scheme to make his reputation as an Indian fighter. Captain York (John Wayne), a bootstrap veteran of many Indian campaigns, knows Thursday’s plan means disaster.”

What Did I Learn?: When you're negotiating with a hostile tribe, it's not a great idea to tell them you think they are "without honour."

You Might Like This Movie If: you only need to hear the word "Apache."

Really?: 1) Hold on - the Army's method of training cavalrymen was to introduce the recruit to a horse and say: "get on"? Did these guys receive any training in combat riding? 2) Somebody mentions that Lt. Colonel Thursday was once a General - why did he lose that rank? What happened? Come to think of it, how did Sergeant-Major O'Rourke lose his rank of Major? 3) I had a hard time believing Captain York wouldn't give Thursday an informal briefing about the Fort, and why he's headed for disaster.

Rating: The best parts of Fort Apache are the conflicts between Thursday and York - the ambitious, spit-and-polish superior officer versus the grizzled, and realistic captain. Unfortunately, the main storyline is downplayed, so the audience is treated to a whole lot of slapstick comedy from the Irish sergeants, too many fancy dress balls, and to a boring romance between Thursday's daughter (played by an older Shirley Temple) and a young officer. The result is a mish-mash that only occasionally works. 5.5/10 stars.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fort Apache, The Bronx (1981)

Paul Newman Film Fest Movie #20 (Dang - this would have been perfect for my salute to bad cops last year!)

Synopsis: Heroic cops struggle to transform violent, crime-ridden hellhole into, um... marginally less-violent, crime-ridden hellhole.

Blurb From the DVD Jacket: “In a bombed-out wasteland stands a police station-less a precinct house than a fort in hostile territory. Outside its walls are the murders, the riots, the drugs, and the everyday lives that texture the bleak urban landscape. Inside, amidst corruption and indifference, each officer does what he must to survive his tour of duty in FORT APACHE, THE BRONX.”

What Did I Learn?: 1) According to Captain Dugan, back in 1981, the South Bronx consisted of a 40-block area with 70,000 people "packed in like sardines smelling each others' farts living like cockroaches." 2) Dropping an empty soda can into the collection jar is a great way of telling people you're disenchanted with your job.

You Might Like This Movie If: you're feeling nostalgic for the good old days.

Really?: 1) I realize this movie takes place pre-AIDS (well, before people knew what it was), but I had a bit of a hard time believing Murphy would continue to date Isabella (Rachel Ticotin) after seeing the needle marks on her legs. 2) Wait just a minute... the hooker who doubles as a serial killer (Pam Grier) is just a sub-plot? And the actual storyline (Murphy and his partner Corelli tackle corruption on the police force) doesn't materialize until late in the second act?

Rating: Fort Apache, the Bronx is a cynical, realistic, and compelling police drama, featuring believable dialogue, enjoyable buddy chemistry between Newman and Ken Wahl (best remembered as TV's Wiseguy), and a nice performance by Ed Asner as a hard-ass police captain. The film certainly has a few problems (see "Really?"), especially the surprising number of sub-plots and unresolved issues, but it's worth checking out, especially if you want to catch a glimpse of New York City in the pre-Guiliani years. 7.5/10 stars.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hombre (1967)

Paul Newman Film Fest Movie #19

Synopsis: Anti-social, mistreated outcast saves rich assholes from bad-ass desperados. Holy cow, this is the ultimate 19th Century nerd fantasy!

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “John Russell (PAUL NEWMAN), a white man raised by a band of Arizona Apaches, is forced to confront the society he despises when he sells the boarding house his father has left him. While leaving town by stagecoach, several bigoted passengers insist he ride outside with the driver (MARTIN BALSAM). But when outlaws leave them all stranded in the desert, Russell may be their only hope for survival!”

What Did I Learn?: If you don't carry a firearm, some gun-toting thug will take away your bus ticket in front of everyone, and nobody - not even the cops - will lift a finger on your behalf.

You Might Like This Movie If: You've always wanted to see William Shatner's The White Comanche remade with, um... better actors.

Really?: 1) I'm still shaking my head about the moment when Mendez (Martin Balsam) tells the outlaws they'll never get away with a stagecoach robbery because there are seven witnesses present. WTF?!? They're in the middle of nowhere, and he basically announces: "you're going to have to kill us, now". 2) So...was it common for illegitimate Caucasian kids to be sent to live on Indian reservations? That seems a bit far-fetched. 3) See "What Did I Learn?" - the dude was a soldier, for crying out loud!

Rating: Hombre isn't exactly the right vehicle for Newman, as John Russell is a man of few words, and it takes awhile for the story to get going, but it's an enjoyable Western and Richard Boone provides a memorable performance as the truly nasty Cicero Grimes. 8/10 stars.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Buffalo Bill and the Indians or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976)

Paul Newman Film Fest Movie #18

Synopsis: Buffalo Bill likes to ride, Sitting Bull is filled with pride, uh oh - look out - egos collide!!

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “In this depiction of Buffalo Bill’s remarkable exploits, Paul Newman portrays the frontier hero with gusto, charm and tireless bravado. Although Buffalo Bill has fought Indians and Civil War battles, nothing can prepare him for his newest challenge: show business!”

What Did I Learn?: If you're dating a trick-shot sharpshooter, you really don't want to become part of his/her act - especially if you're banging somebody else on the side.

You Might Like This Movie If: You get a kick out of watching  assholes named Buffalo Bill. [I wanted to use the opening theme, but I couldn't find it. It's a shame this clip was cut from the DVD version of the show].

Really?: Hold on - wouldn't anyone in the show be a bit concerned about Sitting Bull getting close to President Grover Cleveland, considering: a) he spent years waging war against the US government, and b) Presidential assassinations weren't new in the 1880/1890s (Lincoln and Garfield come to mind). Wouldn't one of Cleveland's Secret Service goons likely shoot Sitting Bull during that strange moment in the performance? And come on - Cleveland won't even listen to Sitting Bull's request? That doesn't sound like good PR.

Rating: Buffalo Bill and the Indians or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (now that's a title!) is a strange film: revisionist Western, and sometimes-funny drama (although I wouldn't call it a comedy). Like many of Robert Altman's movies, BBATIOSBHL is a bit light on plot, as it focuses on interrelationships, and on many behind-the-scenes incidents within the wild west show, with a very loud and buffoonish Buffalo Bill at the center of things. The film is a bit of a mess, but enjoyable, and it boasts an impressive cast: Newman, Burt Lancaster, and Harvey Keitel to name a few. Check it out if you're interested. 7/10 stars.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pocket Money (1972)

Paul Newman Film Fest Movie #17

Synopsis: It's like a sequel to Hud, except Newman is extra-stupid, and his best bud is a scuzzy, sharp-dressed dude who can't seem to grease any wheels.

Blurb From the DVD Jacket: “Newman and Marvin deliver a herd of cattle. And get a bum steer.”

What Did I Learn?: Throwing a television set out the nearest window is an effective means of gaining somebody's attention.

You Might Like This Movie If: You find rip-offs tremendously entertaining.

Really?: 1) Not too many men would wear a suit and tie on a cattle drive. 2) I realize Jim Kane (Newman) isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it's tough to believe he would continue on his cattle-buying mission when it's obvious Garrett (Strother Martin) is trying to screw him over. Oh, and I had a lot of trouble believing Kane wouldn't simply hop into his truck and haul ass back to Texas when he's told the Mexican secret police want to throw him in jail.

Rating: I had mixed feelings as I watched Pocket Money; it's a sometimes-funny, often-charming character-driven drama featuring some amiable chemistry between Newman and Marvin. Unfortunately, the story never really goes anywhere, and Newman's character is so dumb that it gets annoying - it doesn't help that Newman adopts a nasally twang, and sounds suspiciously like George W. Bush at times. I'm giving this film an extra half-star because I also quite liked Carole King's lovely song. 6.5/10 stars.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Absence of Malice (1981)

Paul Newman Film Fest Movie #16

Synopsis: Salt-of-the-Earth liquor wholesaler finds true romance with the spunky young reporter who ruins his business, drags his name through the mud, and provokes his sensitive, childhood friend to commit hari kari. What the [censored]?!?

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “In America, can a man be guilty until proven innocent? Suppose you picked up this morning’s newspaper and your life was a front page headline...and everything they said was accurate but not true.”

What Did I Learn?: In Miami, the local newspapers will refer to sharks as "fish" so as not to scare the tourists.

Really?: 1) See "Synopsis". 2) See "What Did I Learn?" 3) So wait, Gallagher's childhood friend, Teresa, approaches Megan, tells her he has an alibi for the murder because he accompanied her to Atlanta for an abortion, and...she prints the story, even though Teresa has provided her absolutely no corroborating evidence? Is this woman America's worst reporter? 4) I had a great deal of trouble believing Megan would continue to speak to, let alone date Gallagher after he manhandles her in a fit of rage.

Rating: Absence of Malice is a long-forgotten, but still compelling drama from the early 1980s. AofM isn't a great film - it's quite slow-paced, and  there are times when it becomes difficult to buy into the storyline, but Newman and Field provide good performances, and Wilford Brimley is outstanding in a short, but highly-charged cameo appearance as a take-no-bullshit Justice Department honcho. I also liked the overall message of Absence of Malice: even relatively "mild", or supposedly harmless police harrassment of innocent people can ruin lives, and is unacceptable in a free society. 6.5/10 stars.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

Paul Newman Film Fest Movie #15

Synopsis: Hokey, harebrained Hoosier hatches Hula Hoop, hooks hard honey, hoodwinks hoaxers.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Mailroom clerk Norville Barnes is a rube, a schmoe, a grade-A ding-dong – precisely what Hudsucker Industries is looking for in a president! With him at the top, the stock will hit bottom.... and the fat cats on the board can snap up controlling interest.”

What Did I Learn?: If you ever want to convince somebody you're insane, show them a hand-drawn picture of a circle and call it your million-dollar idea.

Really?: The Hudsucker Proxy tries very hard to be a screwball comedy, so I can overlook a number of strange plot twists (including Waring Hudsucker coming back from the dead and preventing Norville from going splat on the sidewalk), but come on... 1) Norville (Tim Robbins) is already on his way out as President of the company. Why is it necessary to have him committed to an asylum? 2) Who, exactly is the bald guy, and why is he unaffected by the stoppage of time? And a fistfight with the kindly, omniscient black guy? That's original... 3) So, Norville solves all of his problems by showing off a letter from Waring Hudsucker? I can't imagine Sidney Musberger (Paul Newman) ever challenging THAT in court... 4) So, Norville confides everything about himself to Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh), it appears in print, and he has absolutely no idea his new employee might not be who she claims to be.

Rating: I had decidedly mixed feelings as I watched The Hudsucker Proxy. Visually, THP is quite beautiful (although it's sometimes tough to tell if it takes place in the art deco 1930s, or the official date of December, 1958... it doesn't seem terribly Fiftyish), and Jennifer Jason Leigh nearly steals the show with a fast-talking, tour-de-force performance as a tough female reporter with a heart of gold. Unfortunately, for a supposedly screwball comedy, The Hudsucker Proxy isn't terribly funny, aside from a sequence or two, and the audience isn't given many reasons to care about the characters; Robbins transforms from a loveable imbecile to a pompous asshole and back again, and Amy isn't a whole lot more sympathetic. It's not one of the Coen Brothers' better movies. 6/10 stars.

Twilight (1998)

Paul Newman Film Fest Movie #14 (Rest assured, even though this film is titled Twilight, it has nothing to do with teenaged vampires. Oh, and please click the link to read my review of Night Moves, another detective film based on a Ross MacDonald novel, and also starring Gene Hackman in a role similar to Newman's.)

Synopsis: Broke, gun-toting, mustachioed private investigator moves in with wealthy benefactors. Waitaminute - it's Magnum PI with old people!!

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Screen legend Paul Newman heads a luminous cast in this acclaimed whodunit packed with stars and suspense. He plays Harry Ross, a burned-out private eye who’s plunged into a murder mystery tied to a long-unsolved case of Hollywood dreams, schemes and cover-ups.”

What Did I Learn?: Guys, cops will be super-nice to you if they believe you've been shot in the crotch.

Really?: 1) See "What Did I Learn?" Come on - isn't it a well-worn trope that cops always harass private detectives in the movies? This might be the only film I've ever seen where they actually receive better-than-normal treatment. 2) Hold on - if Jeff and Gloria want Harry to deliver a message, why would they beat him unconscious and leave him under a pier just as the tide starts to come in? That's just dumb.

Rating: Twilight is a bit formulaic, but it's both an enjoyable mystery and an engaging character study of an over-the-hill detective that's reminiscent of the 1978 production of The Big Sleep.  And holy cow, what a cast: Newman, Hackman, James Garner, Susan Sarandon, and even Reese Witherspoon in a small role as a bratty teenaged daughter (even better, she has a topless scene!) Overall, not bad. 8/10 stars.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Verdict (1982)

Paul Newman Film Fest Movie #13

Synopsis: Ambulance-chasing, alcoholic attorney aggravates Archbishop, argues action, attacks association, absorbs ale.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Paul Newman is brilliant in a powerful courtroom drama.”

What Did I Learn?: 1) If you ever want to track down somebody who doesn't wish to be found, you might try prying open the mailbox of that person's dear friend, and stealing their phone bill. 2) If you show up unannounced at a funeral and hand your business card out to bereaved family members, there's a very good chance that somebody's going to get pissed off.

You Might Like This Movie If: you find drunks tremendously entertaining.

Really?: 1) Come on... Galvin (Newman) doesn't tell his clients the hospital is willing to settle for $210,000? That's pretty irresponsible, even for a drunk lawyer. 2) Hold on - the audience isn't given the final dollar amount at the climax of the film? And I can think of a couple of other scenes that should have been included: a) the Archbishop was clear that this case should never have gone to trial, yet it does, and he never gets mad, and b) why doesn't Kevin Doneghy ever apologize to Galvin for taking a swing at him?

Rating: Written by David Mamet (although based on a novel by Barry Reed), The Verdict combines excellent dialogue with one of Paul Newman's best performances as a self-loathing drunk  who somehow finds the courage to do the right thing. The Verdict is not a fun movie - it's quite slow-moving, Galvin isn't the most likeable character of Newman's career, and it's much more of a character study than a plot-driven courtroom procedural, but it is a very good film. 8.5/10 stars.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Where the Money Is (2000)

Happy Canada Day!

I wanted to review some classic Canadiana (Goin’ Down the Road? Porky’s?), yet my collection of Canadian films is quite limited. Well, to be more precise, I currently don’t have any. So, the Paul Newman Film Fest continues into July. In the meantime, please click the link to read my review of Strange Brew).

Paul Newman Film Fest Movie #12

Synopsis: Career criminal has *ahem* stroke of genius.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Cash. Moolah. Bucks. Dough. Bread. Loot. It’s called by many names but they all mean money, money, money. And this ‘gang’ – a veteran thief faking a stroke, his very sexy nurse, and her ernest but boring husband – is going after some.”

What Did I Learn?: Apparently, with the help of some extremely deep yoga, you can put yourself into such an all-consuming trance that you can feel nothing when poked by pins, show no reaction to a sudden loud noise, andcan even prevent your dick from getting hard during a lap dance.

Really?: 1) See “What Did I Learn?”. 2) In the early part of the movie, Carol spends an awful lot of time trying to prove that Henry (Newman) is faking the stroke. Doesn’t she have other things to do during her shift? And would she continue her attempts after the lap dance incident? I certainly didn’t believe a nurse would pitch a patient into a nearby lake to force a reaction. 3) Hold on – Carol runs a prison transfer bus off the road, driving her own car, and not wearing a mask? Come on – really? She knows Henry is a master criminal; couldn’t she find some way to help him escape from jail without making herself a fugitive from justice?

Rating: Newman and Fiorentino share some nice chemistry in Where The Money Is, but it’s VERY slow moving, especially in the first act, and the film is constructed on a number of preposterous premises. While I consider Where the Money Is to a be an ok little caper film (and I am giving it a positive recommendation), I couldn’t shake a sense of Do I Really Want to See This?, as Henry (Newman) attempts to romance Carol, although he’s far too old for her, and it's quite obvious. Save this for a rainy Sunday evening. 6/10 stars.