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Al Freeman Jr.,
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Kit Le Fever
After seeing Players I'm convinced this film might have been originally meant for Vincent Van Patten who has never made up his mind whether he prefers tennis or show business more. For some reason Van Patten might not have been available so another Hollywood tennis player with a bigger box office name was obtained for the role of the young tennis hustler who gets involved with a slightly older woman mistress of an international business tycoon.
So Dean Paul Martin, son of Dean Martin was given the hustler role opposite Ali McGraw and Maximilian Schell. The film was produced at Paramount by Robert Evans who was married to McGraw at the time and laid a huge international egg.
Putting it bluntly, Dean Paul Martin while he looked real good in shorts simply isn't an actor. Both Ali McGraw and Maximilian Schell just buried the young man on the screen. Not to say he couldn't have developed over time into an actor, he did have a certain presence on the screen. But I suspect the bad reviews probably soured him on a film career.
The story is told in flashback with Martin having finally made the championship round at Wimbledon as an unseeded player. In between the shots of the game, we are told the story of the triangle and how the relationship with McGraw turned his life around.
I will say this in young Mr. Martin's favor, next to him tennis great Pancho Gonzalez looked bad as an actor. Gonzalez played Martin's coach and as an actor Gonzalez was a great tennis player.
We all know about young Dino's tragic death flying jets for the Air Force reserve in Nevada. Would that a better film be some kind of living epitaph for him.
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