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Things start to go wrong for a group of criminals after they kidnap a young heiress and hold her for ransom at a beach house in France. Fighting among the co-conspirators boils over shortly after the ransom is picked up, leading to a violent end for most. Written by
Kevin Steinhauer <K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU>
The final shot, with Marlon Brando smiling in a close-up, was particularly difficult to film for director Hubert Cornfield. Brando kept on making silly faces and refused to smile because he was upset that the ending he preferred was not filmed. In the editing room, Cornfield picked out one frame in which Brando smiled before making another face. See more »
I don't want you to hurt the girl; I don't want you to touch her. If I come back and I find out that she's not all right, I'm gonna take that burp gun and I'm gonna jam it up your nose... and I'm gonna pull the trigger 'til it doesn't work any more.
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Uneven film is suspenseful at times but exasperating at others
Seldom has a movie so wildly vacillated between being suspenseful and being irritating. It's about a kidnapping which goes wrong. In it, a chauffeur in Paris with a criminal record (Marlon Brando) reluctantly agrees to take part in the kidnapping for ransom of a young British heiress (Pamela Franklin), which is being masterminded by his good friend, a washed-up pickpocket (Jess Hahn). The girl will be held hostage at the English Channel home of a heroin-addicted stewardess (Rita Moreno), who is both Hahn's sister and Brando's girlfriend. Added to this motley group is a sadistic pimp (Richard Boone), whom Hahn brought in but Brando doesn't trust. The kidnapping goes well enough, but complications set in. A neighbor of the beach house is a French policeman. But even more importantly, the characters become increasingly mistrustful of each other while the captive is menaced by Boone, who is clearly a psychopathic predator. Of course, there is the inevitable climax when things go wrong at the last minute. The film alternates between crime drama and psychological drama, with a lot of chat and only a few action scenes. The talented actors and the nice scenery help make the film watchable until the end, in spite of the pretentious script. But then the entire story is undercut by one of the most stupid endings one could imagine, which could not possibly be more out of place. I had only grudgingly sat through this film because of the cast, only to have the rug yanked out from under me. It left me feeling betrayed.
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