A dying man frames himself for the kidnapping and murder of an industrialist so his wife and daughter can benefit from the reward money. However, his plan goes awry when he is cured! Written by
Marty McKee <email@example.com>
There was more to the 1970s than funny hair and leisurewear
From the perspective of 2003, the saddest thing about this very downbeat picture is that it could never get made as a commercial production these days - certainly not with a middle-aged and far from beautiful character player in the lead. Although its structure relies on two large implausibilities, the story, characters and motivations are unashamedly adult and human: Zigzag takes life seriously, and when was the last mainstream picture you saw that did that?
The versatile and sympathetic heavy George Kennedy (if I'm ever on a passenger plane that's in trouble, I'd want him at the controls) gives an honest, understated performance as a flawed family man who takes a desperate road to a strange kind of redemption. The way he does that would have made a terrific lower-depths 1940s noir for a second-division star like Dana Andrews or Edmond O'Brien, but Zigzag loses nothing from its setting in the less obviously cinematic milieu of respectable lower-middle-class life in an up-and-up America that was just beginning to turn Dayglo.
I don't say it's a neglected classic - there's not the slightest touch of humour, the supporting cast aren't trying very hard, and the look of the film is reminiscent of an old episode of Kojak (so are most of the actors). Zigzag is just a solid piece of grown-up dramatic entertainment whose modest ambitions are positively Shakesperean compared to almost anything you could get insulted by at your local multiplex this weekend.
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