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Watched! (1974)

R | | Crime, Drama | September 1974 (USA)
When government attorney Mike Mandell begins to suffer from a mental disorder that periodically transforms him into another mobster personality known as "Sonny," his strange behavior doesn't escape the notice of a narcotics agent.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Turid Aarstad
Denver John Collins
...
Mike Mandell / Sonny
Valeri Parker
Bridget Pole
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When government attorney Mike Mandell begins to suffer from a mental disorder that periodically transforms him into another mobster personality known as "Sonny," his strange behavior doesn't escape the notice of a narcotics agent.

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Crime | Drama

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September 1974 (USA)  »

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Dope Lawyer  »

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This is your movie on drugs
23 May 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One of many determinedly offbeat, slightly experimental 70s features that disappeared without a trace at the time but then resurfaced with home video, "Watched" is talky, incoherent, un-suspenseful (for an ostensible thriller), yet interesting as a period piece...if you like this sort of thing. The reliably eccentric/intense Stacey Keach plays a former San Francisco D.A. who had infiltrated various parts of the local counterculture, setting them up for drug busts, but becomes disillusioned with that task. Or is it that he's become an addict himself? After 75 minutes or so the film grows more reality/illusion-blurring trippy and suggests that the protagonist has been a coke-addled mess--though nothing previously really suggested that.

Tinged with the inevitable Watergate-era conspiracy paranoia, "Watched" doesn't quite have the energy, style or dramatic thrust to suck us into Keach's descent into madness. It often seems aimless and disorganized, albeit in that 70s way which nonetheless holds a certain fascination for some of us. There's one notably weird scene--conceptually great, though rather listlessly executed--when Keach reveals just how far gone he is by completely freaking out when his toupee is accidentally removed. There's also a standout performance by Warhol superstar Brigid Polk as a police informant who's even crazier than our hero. The portrait of SF counterculture life sliding into decadence, well past its idealistic Haight-Ashbury peak, is a plus though it doesn't occupy as much screen time as you might like.

The writer-director apparently never made another feature, and that's not surprising. (What's more surprising with movies like this is that they got financed--people sure took a lot more flying leaps with film projects back then.) It's not exactly good by any standard, but if you like odd 70s films, this one is worth a look.


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