The Outside Man (1972) Poster

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Ann-Margret in a plunging neckline--need I say more?
jimu6321 August 2002
"The Outside Man" is one of those films that I would classify as a "guilty pleasure." I first saw it as a child of eleven on the second half of a double bill with "Little Big Man" at a retro drive-in in 1974. This is exactly the type of film my parents would have walked out on in fifteen minutes, since my Dad is a strict law-and-order type and likes films where there are good guys and bad guys and the good guys win. Lucky for me, this film played FIRST, so they were stuck sitting through it. I, for one, loved it because it was fast-paced and action-packed (and very violent) and couldn't have cared less that everyone in it was a crook. (I still don't.) It's one of my favorite films of the '70's and remains one I watch again and again.

"The Outside Man"'s plot is simple: A French hit man (Jean-Louis Trantignant) travels to Los Angeles to kill a mobster. Upon completion of his assignment, he returns to his hotel to find he has been checked out and that his belongings (wallet and passport included) are gone. Upon leaving the hotel, he is ambushed by an American assassin (played with icy menace by Roy Scheider, a million miles from his "Jaws" sheriff), who has obviously been hired to kill him. After an exciting chase through the streets of L.A., and a brief respite in the apartment of a dippy widow and her smart-aleck son ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show"'s Georgia Engel and a very young Jackie Earle Haley), he contacts his boss and is told to find the boss's ex-moll Nancy Robson (Ann-Margret). He meets her in a topless bar and she agrees to help him get the hell out of Dodge. This sets up a series of chases and shootouts as she tries to help him leave town while he dodges Scheider's bullets.

Sure, this film is at times as trashy as it sounds. But it's also highly entertaining and has a top cast which also includes Angie Dickinson in the small role of the gangster's widow. In spite of the fact that he's playing a cold-blooded killer, Trantignant actually elicits a certain amount of audience sympathy and the mostly silent Scheider (who probably has five lines of dialog, total) is a hair-raising villain. Dickinson is appropriately shady and Engel at times very funny (and touching) as the victimized housewife. And then there's the eye-popping Ann-Margret, who I believe filmed this before her near-fatal Vegas accident: Her plunging neckline, blond wig and mini-dresses alone are worth the price of rental. Add at least two exciting extended chase sequences and a uniquely filmed shootout in a mortuary (where the mobster has been embalmed in a sitting position, cigar in hand) and you have a highly entertaining melodrama in which everyone eventually gets their comeuppance.

All-in-all, "The Outside Man" is a highly entertaining film lark from an era where films were actually distinguishable from each other, and didn't all look like yesterday's recycled trash. *** (out of *****)
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A Potential Cult Classic
rwint3 September 2001
Very low key actioner with sprinkles of offbeat humor. French hit man does a job only to find the roles are reversed and he is now the target of another hit man. Trintignant is well cast as a man not only confused with his unusual predicament, but also with southern California culture. There's been many, many films done in Los Angeles, but the excellent location shooting seems to show you a whole new city. Although the film stays very true to it's unique form the downbeat ending could've and should've been avoided. Georgia Engle is a delight as a dumb housewife.
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To call this one 'strange' would be an understatement...
moonspinner5522 January 2001
Bizarre mixture of elements: character study, romance, crime melodrama and action flick. Terrifically filmed on vivid Los Angeles locales by a French director and crew, story follows foreign hit-man on assignment in L.A. being tracked down and targeted for death. Some of the characters here are delicious: Jean-Louis Trintigant is super-cool as the French gunman, Roy Scheider is his nemesis, Ann-Margret sad and desperate as a former flame of Trintigant's boss, Angie Dickinson as the cheating wife of a Bel Air crime czar, Georgia Engel as an innocent housewife who manages to get involved. Subtle--some may say somnambulant--thriller, less frenetic than most American pictures in the crime genre, with emphasis on character detail and emotion. Unusual and worth-watching. **1/2 from ****
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" Fear the past, . . . it's catching up with you from the Dark "
thinker169122 May 2012
This dramatic fast pace triller was written by Jean-Claude Carriere and directed by Jacques Derey. It tells the story of Frenchman Lucien Bellon (Jean-Louis Trintignant) a man deeply in debt with the French mob. To settle accounts he agrees to travel to America with the sole task of assassinating a high powered Mob Boss. The assignment goes according to plan with one snag, upon completing his task he discovers he has been targeted by Lenny (Roy Scheider) an American hit man. There are plenty of speedy shootings and get-aways with interesting and secretive meetings which keeps the audience guessing as to who the Bad guys are. Eye candy is provided by beautiful and seductive Ann-Margret and sultry Angie Dickinson. The movie is interesting in that perennial Good guy Roy Scheider plays the heavy and Felice Orlandi nearly always a heavy, plays Anderson a cop. Good entertainment. ****
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Very European LA-set thriller
JasparLamarCrabb16 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A fast paced thriller directed by Jacques Deray and starring Jean-Louis Trintignant as a French hit-man who goes to Los Angeles to kill a mob boss only to find himself pursued relentlessly by American hit-man Roy Scheider. With its European sensibility and LA locations, THE OUTSIDE MAN is something of an oddity. Trintignant is excellent --- nobody played an outsider better than him in the '70s. Scheider scowls and grits his teeth a lot. A barely dressed Ann-Margret is the bad girl who helps Trintignant out. The supporting cast is truly bizarre --- Georgia Engel is an uncooperative, publicity happy housewife, Angie Dickinson plays the mob boss's wife but has so few lines, it's a wonder why she was cast. Alex Rocco, Jackie Earle Haley and John Hillerman also have small roles.
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Film noir in Los Angeles
jjcremin1 September 2001
Being a native of Los Angeles, it's great a treat to see a overview of the city in 1973 supposedly from the plane to brings Trintignant. There are shots of "The Classic Cat", a club that no longer exists on Sunset Blvd. The chase scene filmed in Venice, CA, are also places that no longer exist as most of the development was still under construction. The music score is by Michel Legrand, whose "Umbrellas in Chernburg" is classic, here a little jarring, maybe intentional. Trintignant plays a hit man from France, who does commit cold blooded murder, so he's a bad guy. Roy Schneider, pre-Jaws, plays an even more gum chewing, sadistic killer after Trintignant.

Ann Magret, at this time, was having a difficult time having just recently lost her father in real life. She plays her part well, but it is unclear why her charactor would go out on a limb for Jean-Louis T., as his charactor treats her with sheer indifference. Angie Dickerson is a 70's babe that gives A.M. competition in the eye candy department.

The shoot out scene at the end of the movieis quite weird, the corpse in the funeral parlor displayed in a sitting position with cigar in hand and Trintigant's cohort being dragged by a hearse through the graveyard.

A 3 out of 5.
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Decent little actioner--
zeldafitgerald19 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
--that is the embodiment of the stripped-down, lean, hard look of LA 'noir-in-broad-daylight' crime drama of the early 70's. Trintignant plays a 'shades of Camus' hit-man who's imported from France to make a completely impersonal hit on an organized crime figure he does not know; Scheider is the equally stony hit-man hired to kill him (I get a laugh out of the mental picture of these two actors probably having on-set competitions to see which one could remain the most poker-faced throughout the shoot. Tough call as to who'd win). Ann-Margaret is fetching and somewhat pathetic as Trintignant's hooker ex-flame who puts herself in danger to protect him in spite of his apparent coldness and indifference to her; Angie Dickinson is suitably ice-maidish as the crime boss's widow who has her own hand involved in his murder, and Alex Rocco is suitable sleazy as her lover and the boss's heir apparent. There are also some funny bits from Georgia Engel as a dippy housewife who manages to cross the paths of both hit men (and wants to know aloud 'where the TV people are' when she gets questioned by the cops a second time), and quick appearances by John Hillerman and Talia Shire. The ending is a particularly bleak 'nobody wins' scenario that smacks hard of French Existentialism; in fact the film's whole chill sensibility makes it easy to spot the European influence. The old Venice Amusement Pier also makes an effective guest appearance in all its rotting glory. A pretty good film in its own right, and if you're feeling a degree of nostalgia for the period, the backgrounds make for a good dose of the era's look and feel.
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The Venice Amusement Pier is seen in this movie
capofrank8 June 2002
The great chase on the VENICE AMUSEMENT PIER allows an old Santa Monica resident like myself to see the old pier before it was demolished. For years it sat, rusted, half standing due to fire and neglect. It was on the Santa Monica and venice border. It was broken into many times, as it was a good location to fish off of, or to go lurking, if one were into checking out what people enjoyed decades earlier. The Beach Boys played in the pink building you see in the film. The piers below, where you see Ann Margaret, you see those piers in THE DOORS video, THE UNKOWN SOLDIER. Also, this pier was used in the last episode of the 1960's TV action series, THE FUGITIVE. Richard Kimble tracked down and caught the 'one armed man' in that abandoned pier.
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I just don't get it.
omit023 May 2004
After reading the comments here I decided to go see this movie when it played at a revival house. Now that I have seen as much of "The Outside Man" as I could stomach, I'm baffled by these other responses.

What some film buffs will accept in the name of nostalgia for a "Lost LA" knows no bounds. If this movie were set in some other place, no one would ever give it his/her time. It is shot like a TV movie (I'm not entirely convinced that it was *not* a TV movie, given the number of TV actors who appear). It is very, very poorly written, acted, and directed. Shoddy, even. The dialogue is stiff, but not even stiff in a clipped, noirish way, or in a way that could provide camp value. The actors are so wooden that they often wait an extra beat and glance off camera before delivering their responses to one another. The editing is absurd.

The film boils down to a series of vignettes involving our alienated French hit-man encountering and negotiating "LA scenes"--the boring housewife, the biker gang, the jesus-freak, the 'tough' blonde hooker, etc. None of these scenes connects with any other in any significant way. They're all just slices of life in 'gritty' LA, but shot in such a fake way that there is nothing whatsoever of 'the real' about them.

Of course, I'm not really qualified to speak about the movie as a whole, because I walked out. I have now walked out of a grand total of 3 movies in my life. I felt so liberated when I left, though, that it almost made watching the first half an hour or 45 minutes worth it.

Perhaps for many people the nostalgia factor overrides these critiques. I understand nostalgia for old LA, too, but for a city that was in fact entirely different than the LA of today (such as the one portrayed in "Mildred Pierce," say). This movie, however, focuses on LA as a hip, modern city, with rivers of freeways and 6-lane boulevards swamped with traffic. How different this is from today's LA is unclear to me. Sure, one can look at this film and say, "Gee, I remember when that club was still open," or "Oh, I loved that old pier." But these feelings run entirely counter to what this film says about LA: that it doesn't care about people's sentimental attachments to particular places and things, so get out of the way or become part of the pavement.

Let's face it, post-1950 or so, LA became a city defined by rapid change, of plowing under the old so the young citizens of today can make their mark. (Of course, pockets of 'old LA' still remain, and always will; not everything can get plowed under as efficiently as late capitalism would like.) This notion of change defines LA. However, some people cling to nostalgia for a particular era, even if it runs counter to what LA was 30 years ago and is today. This is a typical American set of actions and sentiments: destroy what is in order to bring on something new; glorify this destruction and change while it's happening; regret that we have brought about this change once it has been effected; build monuments to that which we have destroyed; lovingly remember that which has passed because it seems to come from a more innocent time; rebuke ourselves for ever thinking that we should have destroyed what was; repeat.

I swear, in a few years people are going to be saying things like, "I really miss that pocked old parking lot that surrounded the Cinerama Dome."
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Not as good as it should have been
highwaytourist9 August 2010
This had all the makings for a first rate international crime action drama. There is a good premise, of a hit-man agreeing to off a powerful crime boss to pay off a debt, only to discover it was a set-up with himself marked for death, a first-rate cast, a "Shaft"-inspired score by Oscar-winning composer Michel Legrand, and excellent location photography which captures the Los Angeles landscape. So why doesn't this film work? For one thing, it never settles on a tone, and it swerves between character study to crime drama and doesn't have enough of either. The character being studied is impossible to care about anyway, the crime aspects are never fully explored, and most the action scenes are mostly ordinary. Even the climactic shootout isn't all that exciting, in spite of happening in a clever location. The result is that the film is usually depressing. There are a few good scenes and the cast is more than up to the task. However, most of the actors are given little to do. In the lead, the great French actor Jean- Louis Trintignant does little more than glower or sulk, making this one of his less memorable performances. Ann Margaret is beautiful, but her role is merely set decoration. Georgia Engel steals the show as a ditsy housewife who innocently gets caught up in the double cross and violence, but she doesn't have that large of a role. The truth is, she's the only person who evokes any sympathy, with everyone else being either a vicious criminal, an inept cop, or an apathetic bystander. That wasn't an unusual situation in 1970's crime dramas, but it doesn't make for exciting viewing. Some people like this movie a lot, so if you're really interested, judge for yourself, but don't complain if you were also disappointed.
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