Inspired by a performance of his favorite play, "Volpone," 20th-century millionaire Cecil Fox devises an intricate plan to trick three of his former mistresses into believing he is dying. ... See full summary »
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Ben and Howdy are a couple of aging cowboys who bust broncos out of Sedona for Jim Ed Love, a slick operator if ever there was one. Sisters, Meg and Agatha, have their eyes on Ben and Howdy... See full summary »
The only son of wealthy widow Violet Venable dies while on vacation with his cousin Catherine. What the girl saw was so horrible that she went insane; now Mrs. Venable wants Catherine lobotomized to cover up the truth.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Charm, intelligence and success in criminal career doesn't prevent Paris Pitman Jr. to start doing ten years in prison, in the middle of the Arizona desert. However, those years should pass quickly because of a $500,000 loot previously stashed away. New idealistic warden would only make Pitman think of getting his fortune even sooner. He starts to manipulate everyone to achieve his goal. Written by
Dragan Antulov <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The prison set took seven weeks to build. When construction began, it was snowing. When it ended, the temperature was 100 degrees. Upon completion of filming, the entire set had to be removed and the area it occupied restored to its original pristine state, so that no trace would be left. See more »
One of the escaping prisoners is shot from behind and falls on his stomach. Although there is an exit wound in his right abdomen, when he falls, there's apparently no entrance wound. See more »
[as Paris is leaving the room]
Why do you work at it so hard proving to yourself you're a sonuvabitch?
Paris Pittman Jr.:
[Stopping and turning]
Because I am. It's my profession , and I'm on top.
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There is so much to like and appreciate about this film that while it's an enjoyable experience, it isn't the great film it should have been.
Firstly, the script is largely excellent. It has a good plot and characters backed up by interesting dialogue. It has a top-notch cast delivering almost universally quality performances. As well, it has some interesting themes and issues to explore, especially in the central battle between Fonda's warden and Douglas' prisoner. The scene where Douglas confronts Fonda in the just built eating hall and exposes his self-serving interests and hypocrisy, is a great example of top-class screen writing.
All the elements are there for a classic (or at least semi-classic) Western, but it doesn't quite reach that. Why? I think a big problem for this is Joseph L. Mankiewicz's direction. As other users have commented, the tone of the film is jerky and erratic and he has to take prime blame for that. But even in pure cinematic terms, it isn't well directed. Scenes that should have been highlights (such as the robbery that opens the film) lack punch because they're ineptly handled.
I think another major problem is the cinematography. The glossy, bright and flashy look of TWACM seems more in tune for a jovial, knockabout, straightforward Western. For a film full of cynicism, complexity (as well as its share of humour) and some rather depressing elements, it's a distracting and misjudged look. The much more realistic style that was to become much more common in films as the 1970s progressed (e.g. 'McCabe and Mrs. Miller') would have been much more apt.
Overall, an under-appreciated and underrated film worth seeking out. But also a bit of a missed opportunity.
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