Charlie Kohler is a piano player in a bar. The waitress Lena is in love with him. One of Charlie's brother, Chico, a crook, takes refuge in the bar because he is chased by two gangsters, ... See full summary »
George has just been released from prison, and manages to get a job driving a call girl from customer to customer. Initially they don't get on; he doesn't fit in with the high class customers Simone services. Will they ever get on?
Spike Lee's take on the "Son of Sam" murders in New York City during the summer of 1977 centering on the residents of an Italian-American South Bronx neighborhood who live in fear and distrust of one another.
Julian makes a lucrative living as an escort to older women in the Los Angeles area. He begins a relationship with Michelle, a local politician's wife, without expecting any pay. One of his... See full summary »
In the early 1950s, Martha Beck, who lives with her slightly senile mother, is the head nurse in a Mobile, Alabama hospital. She is bitter about her life, she not having male companionship in large part because she is overweight, while her bitterness in turn does not endear her to people. She is initially angry with her best friend, Bunny, for signing her up to a lonely hearts club, but eventually decides to give it a try. Through it, she meets Ray Fernandez, a suave Spanish immigrant living in New York, he who contacted Martha as the first through the club. After Ray's trip to Mobile to meet Martha, they fall in love. Upon a subsequent visit Martha makes to Ray in New York - which leads to her being fired in part for her time off work - he decides to be up front with her: that she is not only not his "first" but that he is really a con man who, primarily through the club, seduces then bilks lonely women of their money. Pretending to be his sister to prospective targets, Martha ... Written by
Director François Truffaut called this his favorite American film. See more »
When Martha and Myrtle have an argument and Myrtle tells Martha she intends to take "Charles" with her to Little Rock, a microphone is visible right next to Myrtle. It doesn't look like a boom mic, but rather a handheld one because you can definitely see someone moves it a little to catch Shirley Stoler's line. See more »
A two-bit Latin lothario who bilks spinsters and single moms of their (generally modest) savings meets a fat, frumpy sociopath of a nurse and inexplicably becomes a 'couple' with her. This 'little' lovely never seems to speak a word to anyone that isn't either an undisguised groan of contempt and boredom or a knife-edged utterance of argumentative ball-breaking. As portrayed by Shirley Stoler, Martha Beck is the embodiment of the narcissistic, self-pitying, rage-aholic 'lover' from hell. There is never a soft word or a soft moment from her. As this is based on a true-life couple it feels like there is something large missing from the telling of the story. Why Fernandez wants to be with Beck never feels satisfactorily explored. It's a complete mystery, yet it happened. Others have posted here that the story is ultimately a 'love story', but I couldn't feel it in the performances. With Bonnie and Clyde it was very well presented as such, even in the midst of rampant violence. Not so here. Beck and Fernandez just seem flat and emotionless (other than Beck's petulance)
Raymond Fernandez is just a con-man, moving from victim to victim and is relatively gentle in his crimes until Martha Beck comes into his life. Then it almost seems like the evil within her sucks from him any vestige of inner decency and he is soon a full partner in her cold, murderous inclinations. Comparisons to 'Psycho' and 'In Cold Blood' have been alluded to by reviewers here, but this has none of the artfulness of those superb canvases, nor are there any directorial postulations as to the personalities of these killers - no attempt at understanding what 'makes them tick' as in those other films
That the violence is presented in chillingly matter-of-fact fashion and the narrative style is so plain, plain, stark and plain seems to have led many to regard this film highly. I wonder if that would be the case if it had been filmed in exactly the same way but in colour? Sometimes black and white can be the 'making point' as to whether a film is regarded as cult-worthy. As to Truffault's appraisal of it, let's not forget he's French - saying it's his favorite American film could just as easily have been a snide comment about American cinema as a genuine compliment of the film. Doesn't matter anyway; as a Frenchman he probably thinks Jerry Lewis movies are high art
Anyway, it sure is an ugly little film. Perhaps the time is ripe, though, for a re-make - a more incisive exploration of the story. Not that I'd want to see it, mind you. I still feel plenty scuzzy from having watched this version
7 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?