While waiting in vain for her married lover to get a divorce, Fran Walker, a lonely chorus girl approaching middle age, falls for Joe Grady, a frustrated musician and compulsive gambler who dreams of escaping Las Vegas for fame and fortune in New York City. Written by
Because Elizabeth Taylor wanted to be near husband Richard Burton, who was at the time filming Staircase (1969) in Europe, she demanded this film, with its Las Vegas setting, be filmed in Paris, France. The studio agreed, thereby increasing the budget considerably as detailed American streetscapes, casinos, apartments and supermarkets had to be recreated in Paris. In the end (after 86 days shooting in Paris) the company had to move to the real Las Vegas anyway for ten additional days of intensive shooting. See more »
When Fran gets off work at Desert Inn at beginning of film, her walk home makes no geographical sense. She is strolling past hotels, chapels and casinos miles apart and in completely opposite directions. See more »
The superficial values and emotional anguish that often permeate the world of gambling is captured by George Stevens in his final film.
Maurice Jarre's "bluesy" score (punctuated by a sorrowful trumpet) enhances the "downer" quality of this mundane drama.
It's understandable why Stevens saw something in this Frank D. Gilroy script, based upon his play. During this general period there were some pretty stark two-character plays being produced.
There was, for example, "Two for the Seasaw," "Silent Night, Lonely Night," "Husbands," and "Scenes from a Marriage." In this last film Ingmar Bergman laid bare a vacillating marriage-on-the brink, creating heart-breaking experience.
In "The Only Game in Town," two very good-looking actors try their hand at a challenging duo-character piece. It is said that "one-take" Frank Sinatra declined the role because he felt it might clash with Stevens' perfectionistic "multiple-take" approach. He was probably right.
The part then went to Warren Beatty, who tries very hard in what almost sounds like a Sinatra imitation (close one's eyes and listen to his timing and inflection). Elizabeth Taylor was apparently a favorite of the director, having utilized her talents successfully twice before. She invests her role with much energy and feeling.
However, the two, for all their earnest effort, create only a medium degree of "chemistry." Part of their lack of connection is in the script, which saddles Beatty's "ring-a-ding" character with an unrelenting degree of flippancy, right up to the last line. Taylor's role doesn't break any fresh dramatic ground, either.
Most people agree, though, that it's pretty hard to stop watching this, once one gets past the [characteristically slow Stevens] "late bedroom" -"morning after" scenes. While the presentation didn't exactly turn out to be the consummate emotional experience Stevens was obviously striving for, "The Only Game in Town" is still a most respectable piece of work.
With this opus, a great film director bid his final farewell to the medium.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?