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This film is the last entry in director Jeremy Paul Kagan's trilogy about the aftermath of the 1960s and 1970s malaise after a particularly volatile historical period. The other two in the trilogy were Katherine (1975) and Heroes (1977). See more »
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Okay, the 30's had Sam Spade, the 40's had Philip Marlowe, and the 50's had Cold War PI, Mike Hammer. So why shouldn't the 60's have its iconic private dick too. His name is Moses Wine. He stands 5-5, wears glasses and exercises on a skateboard. His hard knocks' schooling is courtesy the Berkeley college of street protest and radical rhetoric, where he majored in Pinko Studies and How to Grind Up the Establishment. There are no stacked blondes in his life, only an ex-wife hitting him up for child support and two little boys he takes on cases when he can't find a sitter. He wouldn't know a fedora from a fez, a Lucky Strike from a Pall Mall, or a whiskey and soda from a scotch and water. And instead of bashing evil-doers-- such as people who call him a "liberal"-- he pickets their house. On the other hand, if things get really rough, he can put in a call to the ghetto or the radical underground or even a cop siren when a door gets grease-gunned to death. In short, Moses Wine is Mike Hammer's worst nightmare come true.
In the Big Fix, Wine (Richard Dreyfuss) is on the trail of somebody, it's not always clear who. But it has something to do with sabotaging a political campaign. Turns out it's the campaign of a liberal politician, of all people, but then Wine needs the money, and besides everyone else has trimmed their hair and sold out-- so why shouldn't he. Along the way, he meets some interesting types, like the establishment barracuda (Fritz Weaver), and the movie's versions of Abbie Hoffman (F. Murray Abraham) and maybe the Symbionese Liberation Army's Bill and Emily Harris (Bloch & Grody). But my favorite is his crusty old aunt. She's sort of the stand-in for every old lefty who never gave up the labor fight. Now she spends her time in a Jewish old age home, debating the fine points of anarchist theory and telling touring politicians how things really are. So naturally, when Wine bursts into the opening refrain of the Internationale, we know where the inspiration comes from and, more importantly, where he comes from.
Sure the mystery's about as clear as air quality in downtown LA. So don't expect a tidy wrap-up. But then the great Raymond Chandler figured life doesn't come in tidy packages either. Anyway, don't expect to see this one-of-a-kind at the White House any time soon or even at your local Democratic headquarters. But it is well acted and produced, with a lot of humorous touches and an approach that thankfully never gets heavy- handed. So thanks be to co-producer Dreyfuss for daring to entertain where politically correct Hollywood has long feared to tread.
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