Mordecai Jones (George C. Scott) is a rural con artist (a 'flim flam man') who takes on a young army deserter Curley (Michael Sarrazin) as his protégé and teaches him the tricks of the ... See full summary »
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Eva Marie Saint,
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Mordecai Jones (George C. Scott) is a rural con artist (a 'flim flam man') who takes on a young army deserter Curley (Michael Sarrazin) as his protégé and teaches him the tricks of the trade. Sheriff Slade (Harry Morgan) is in hot pursuit of the pair and rich girl Bonnie Lee Packard (Sue Lyon) becomes romantically involved with Curley and helps the fleeing duo stay one step ahead of the sheriff. The film features a great automobile chase scene for those who appreciate this kind of cinema hijinks. Screenplay by William Rose ("It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"). Written by
Happened to be channel-surfing today and, how amazing!, came in on an early scene of this film (instead of one of the endless stream of advertisements and promo clips that pad their broadcasts) on American Movie Classics. Not letterboxed, of course (and WHY NOT?!!?, may I ask), so that director Irvin Kershner's Panavision framing was not part of the pleasure of viewing this pell-mell tale, scripted by the gifted William Rose. I don't know why I avoided catching this during its initial theatrical release, possibly because the trailers were somehow drab-looking (a fault of the cheap film stock commonly used at the time to advertise films shot in DeLuxe Color) and too frantic, the latter easily achieved when there's so much amazingly choreographed action for an editor to choose from.
Anyway, the cast, topped by George C. Scott, clearly enjoying himself in a bravura performance, includes Harry Morgan, Albert Salmi, Alice Ghostley, Slim Pickens...wow! What a roster!...and the lovely Sue Lyon (who, in one carefully lit shot looked like the ideal choice to play Joanne Woodward's younger sister in a movie one could imagine but that never got made before Ms. Lyon's retirement to, one hopes, a very happy marriage.) Michael Sarrazin acquits himself quite well, despite the formidable presence of Mr. Scott in full thespic throttle, and Jerry Goldsmith's music underscores the proceedings quite skillfully, including his use of a harmonica (which I usually find somewhat off-putting.) My only complaint, as an enthusiast for Detroit products of the past, is the merciless destruction of that bright red Plymouth convertible as it careens through a town left devastated in its wake. That particular sequence packed more eye-popping excitement than all of the more recent destruction derbies in the many so-called action movies in the decades since.
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