|Index||5 reviews in total|
From the Thomas Dolby music that kicks it off--an eighties synthesizer dweeb's variant on Rat Pack swagger--through the many gratuitous jumbo-cleavage shots, from the super-surly acting-against-type of arch villain Chad Everett to the climax, which involves Ryan O'Neal rolling around in a garbage can full of mustard, this picture suggests that the very respectable director Richard Brooks, in his waning phase, was a couple of Schlitzes shy of a six pack. (For a double bill of wackness, put this on after Brooks' homage to Sean Connery's toupee, WRONG IS RIGHT.) The thing you'll take away from this film, aside from Catherine Hicks' attempts not to appear embarrassed in the role of Ho with Heart of Gold, is that insane Dolby score, which suggests the fanfare that would greet Jack Klugman as he impresses the nanas by cleaning up at an old-age home's craps game.
And channeling Samuel Fuller, this is one of those movies (like the Oscar) so wrong that it is awfully, hilariously right. Brooks' sensibility must have been faltering because he flashed back to the 50s (traveling montages, "exposes" of sensational subjects, Chad Everett!) and flopped this sizzling cinematic spectacle into theaters across America! Where I saw it originally. I have had to revisit it a few times just to make sure it was for real. And now it's not available! And where's The Oscar? Which starred Steven Boyd and Tony Bennett in the film role that kept him out of the movies for decades. But seriously, Fever Pitch is a last gasp effort from a filmmaker too tired to pucker up anymore.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I really can't understand all the negative reviews of Richard Brooks'
film. Granted, it's not the very best film in his canon (that honor goes
"In Cold Blood"), but it's a realistic and challenging film that pulls no
Ryan O'Neal turns in one of his very best performances as a reporter who goes undercover in the world of gambling but ends up becoming addicted to it as well. No, this is not a spoiler; if you're watching a film about gambling, how can you NOT expect the protagonist to not become an addict? He is ably supported by Catherine Hicks, who must surely be one of the most underrated actresses of the 80s (90's and present)
I've noticed that most people who hate this film have had similar complaints about Robert Altman's 1974 masterpiece "California Split". While that film had humor along with the expected suspense, Brooks' film is more about atmosphere than character or plot and it succeeds as exactly that. It is rather short (95 mins) compared with other Brooks pictures which often ran over 2 hours, but I've rarely seen such a short film absorb me as much as Fever Pitch did.
Sadly, the film is no longer on video. It was last distributed by Key Video (CBS/FOX sister label) after the film was disowned by MGM/UA, who had no clue as to how to market it (as a comedy!) MGM should take the opportunity to rerelease it as part of its' "Contemporary Classics" series. I really wish Richard Brooks was still alive to see that at least someone liked his final film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you've never seen this little gem in the theaters (as I did), then get it on video/DVD right away. Although I only saw it 1/2 times when it first came out, the story-line was riveting. Ryan O'Neal stars as a newspaper reporter who is writing a series of true stories about compulsive gambling and the harmful effects of it, with the compulsive gambler's name listed as only "Mr. X." It is only near the end of the film that he reveals to his editor that HE is the Mr. X in the story when he requests for a leave of absence to take care of all the problems that have resulted from his life of compulsive gambling. The most single dramatic scene for me was, while the reporter went into the gambler's anonymous meetings, his son was put into a meeting of "Gam-A-Teen", a group for children of gamblers. The scene involved the testimony of one teen boy who said that, although he realized that compulsive gambling was a problem & that his father needed help, he could not forgive his father for the grief that he put his family through, and, that if he got the opportunity, he would KILL his father. This was delivered in such a cold, serious fashion that I will never forget it. So, if you think that compulsive gambling is not a serious addiction as you thought, check out this gem from the 80's, and contemplate how much worse it can be today.
I knew Rafael when he made this film in 1985. He was a terrific actor and wonderful human being. He told me personally that Richard Brooks punched him in the stomach because he didn't like one of the takes that Rafael had done. (I'd heard rumors from other people that Brooks was a notoriously difficult director to work for). The problem was Rafael was punched so hard, he couldn't return to work. He didn't tell anyone about it, but was in so much pain from the punch, he went to see a Doctor - they did exploratory surgery to find out that Rafael was suffering from stomach cancer. He died not much longer after the incident (another film of his came out later), but he told me this story from his hospital bed. I mention it all these years later (Brooks died in 79) because its an awful story about an abusive film director - but the truth always comes out, even if it's only 25 years later. Rafael; RIP.
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|