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Cuba, December 1958: The professional gambler Jack visits Havana to organize a big Poker game. On the ship he meets Roberta and falls in love with her. Shortly after they arrive in Cuba, Roberta and her Cuban husband, the revolutionary Arturo, are arrested and tortured. Arturo is reported "shot while trying to escape," but Jack manages to get Roberta free again. He can't, however, keep her from continuing to support the revolution. Jack has to make a choice between the beautiful woman who keeps putting herself in harms way and the biggest poker game of his life; between the man he could be and the man he is. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
Many will claim that Sydney Pollack and Robert Redford were on auto-pilot while making this film. Based on their previous collaborative efforts, the well-received Three Days of the Condor, The Way We Were, The Electric Horseman, and Out of Africa, which swept the Academy Awards, people wanted to see their movies. They could make any movie they wanted. They made Havana, and NOBODY wanted to see it.
Maybe Pollack, brilliant in his own right, set his watch according to Redford's schedule at this time, and history shows that, subsequent to Havana, and its box office failure Sydney Pollack basically quit directing. His influence in film is still served, and may be better served as a producer, witness Sliding Doors, Sense and Sensibility, Fabulous Baker Boys, and Searching For Bobby Fischer, all of which he helped bring to the screen.
But, back to the matter at hand-Redford as a gambler, Lena Olin, his distraction (and what a distraction)--the film feels good, looks good, and gives us some perspective on Cuba in the waning hours of Batista.
Olin (pre-Romeo is Bleeding, post Unbearable Lightness of Being) is properly introduced to American audiences, and is not inappropriate as leading lady to one of Hollywood's leading stars, Redford, who, even on auto-pilot, delivers a strong, engaging performance.
I understand this film was heavily maligned at release, and failed dismally at the box office, but I enjoyed it. It is a beautiful film to watch with attractive leads - and that alone stands it well ahead of many of the alternatives out there today.
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