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Chicago psychiatrist Judd Stevens is suspected of murdering one of his patients when the man turns up stabbed to death in the middle of the city. After repeated attempts to convince two cops of his innocence, Dr. Stevens is forced to go after the real villains himself, and he finds himself up against one of the city's most notorious Mafia kingpins. Written by
Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
Bryan Forbes ("The Stepford Wives" '75) directed this adaptation of a Sidney Sheldon novel in addition to writing it for the screen. Sir Roger Moore tackles a change of pace role, playing Dr. Judd Stevens, a Chicago psychiatrist. One of his patients is murdered for no apparent reason, and his secretary is horribly tortured before being killed. Lt. McGreary (Rod Steiger) is a volatile police detective, bearing a grudge against Stevens, who's very quick to consider the doctor a prime suspect. The story then unfolds as one would expect it to, as Dr. Stevens must evade attempts on his life while trying to prove his innocence and keep McGreary out of his hair.
"The Naked Face" really isn't deserving of some of the talent here. Made on the cheap by the Cannon Group (basically because some of their other product during this time had under performed at the box office), it adequately entertains without being remarkable in any way. Viewers may feel underwhelmed by the twists that the story provides, and the climactic reveal and confrontation fail to be that satisfying. Editing, photography, and pacing are all reasonably well done, although that music score by Michael J. Lewis is awfully melodramatic. The last second shock ending is quite annoying.
Moore is okay, no more, as our somewhat reserved main character, while Steiger is given yet another opportunity to rip the scenery to shreds. Elliott Gould is actually good as McGreary's partner Angeli. Lovely Anne Archer is appealing as always in her small role as one of the patients. David Hedison lends solid support as Stevens's good friend (and brother-in-law) Dr. Peter Hadley. The main attraction, however, is Art Carney in a likable turn as a sly private detective. The film gets just a little bit better when he turns up.
Fans of these actors and this genre may enjoy this one. At least it delivers one memorable sequence involving one of the attempts to kill off Stevens.
Six out of 10.
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