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Alberto De Martino
To escape sinful impulses, Ben Harvey, a callow youth, leaves his small town for Chicago in 1910. A pickpocket promptly relieves him of his money, and he nearly starves before Queen Lil takes him under her wing, gives him a room in her high-class bordello, and gets him a job at a newspaper. He's so sweet and dumb, he thinks Lil's is a boarding house. He's soon caught up in an electoral struggle between a secretly corrupt reformer and an openly corrupt councilman. Can Ben expose corruption or will he be caught up in allure of power? An alcoholic investigative reporter and the bordello's ingénue try to help him grow up. Written by
Production values on this bit of fluff are stellar (it earned Oscar noms for Art Direction, Costume Design and Sound), but it is a curiously uninvolving comedy based on Ben Hecht's 1910 Chicago memoirs. Beau Bridges plays Ben with an innocence bordering on terminal stupidity. He becomes annoying after a short while. Mercouri's Madam Lil has potential but the role is not developed. After lumbering along for over an hour, it becomes a "chase" movie with corrupt politicians chasing after Ben thinking he possesses a little black book naming them all. This is one of those films that LOOKS wonderful but a few months after you see it, you can hardly remember a thing about it. Notable as Bridges and Kidder's first film.
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