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Harry and Archie are released from prison ready to collect their Social Security. How could they get into trouble at their age? Let's count the ways; A parole officer who is a famous criminal groupie, Dead end where people don't know they are dealing with dangerous, though older, criminals, a hit man who can barely see, but who still has an outstanding contract on them. Does anyone still rob trains? Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I wasn't disappointed when in 1986, Burt Lancaster announced on BBC's Wogan show that his new movie was going to star himself and his long time friend and frequent co-star Kirk Douglas. Since their first pairing in the brilliant noir thriller 'I Walk Alone' (1947), Lancaster and Douglas had made several appearances together. Who can forget Lancaster's tough talking Wyatt Earp and Douglas's equally tough yet terminally ill Doc Holliday in 'Gunfight at the OK Corral'?
So now it was the mid 80's, the age of the pepsi generation, I wondered how these two consistent stars would adapt to staring together again for the first time since the 60's. The answer is brilliant.
Harry Doyle (Lancaster), and Archie Long (Douglas) are released from prison after a 30 years sentence after being caught dead bang robbing a train. Eager to make a clean sweep, the two senior citizens, are looking forward to starting their new legitimate lives. However, all is not as they had hoped on the outside, and Harry and Archie have problems coming to terms with the way the world has changed. Director Kanew gives us a new genre here. Instead of the 'fish out of water' scenario, we have the 'two fishes that have been put back in the water after a severely long time' genre. However, Kanew also gives the audience the inevitable Clichés that go with it, and is always ready to fall back on a youth versus experience incident just about everytime the movie gets enjoyable. After being humiliated, patronised, and generally treated like dirt for the better part of a week, The two ageing gangsters decide that a life of crime has to be better then honest work, and predictably they revert to their previous careers as train robbers.
The film is enjoyable there's no escaping it, but there are more holes in the plot than there are in a grannies cardigan, and is also SOoooo predictable in fact the films outcome is more predictable than the outcome of a fight betwix elephant and duck. First of all to get 30 years simply for robbing a train, seems a bit excessive for the viewer to even find it believable. Co-incidentally the day the get out of prison is 1 week before the train they were caught robbing is making it's farewell run.
This aside the film IS enjoyable, and Lancaster and Douglas play their parts wonderfully and you enjoy the film more for their presence. Other cast members also rate highly, Eli Wallach is by far the funniest character, and his wonderful performance in some ways steals the film from it's intended stars. and the devine Alexis Smith makes a small cameo as Lancaster's ex lover. Charles Durning is unfortunately once again typecast as the over-weight lazy flatfoot (ala Dog Day Afternoon/The Sting) and although his performances are always good, you get tired pretty quickly of his tough talking patronising character. and finally there is (Pre Wayne's World) Dana Carvey as the Youthful Idealistic Parole Officer, but it's a shame that Carvey is restricted to playing pretty much a straight character, especially considering he is probably one of the funniest men working in Hollywood today.
Tough Guys should have been better, but I feel Kanew spent most of the budget on getting the perfect Sterling cast, rather than to hire a good script writer. Worth watching for the final appearance on-screen of this top notch duo. Since Lancaster's Death in 1994, I've warmed to this movie more knowing it could never happen again. It's just a shame it wasn't better as it could have been much better.
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