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This film concerns a writer of mystery stories who bases his villain on a criminal, played by Malcolm McDowell, who is incarcerated in prison. Escaping prison after his apparent death in a fire, the criminal plans to revenge himself on the writer (Roger Moore) for 'stealing his personality', and proceeds to carry out a set of murders based around the novels. Moore is unable to convince the authorities of the true murderer and, alerted by an avid fan (Nancy Allen) who has psychic powers, seeks to trap McDowell into giving himself away. Written by
Leslie Moss <email@example.com>
There's this author, right? And he based all his fictional mystery stories on real life crimes committed by a psychopath who is now thought to be dead. With me so far? The author also baseshis fictional hero upon himself. Then, it turns out that the psychopath isn't dead at all, and that he is planning a truly diabolical crime in New York City, and the author who used to write about him is now the only person who can foil his fiendish plans. Sounds complex? That's because it is.
The Man Who Wouldn't Die has a complex plot, but deals with it well and avoids the kind of confusion that could so easily have ruined the film. It unfolds in a humorous fashion and is given a real boost by two of Britain's hammiest actors in two of their hammiest ever roles. Roger Moore as the burnt out detective novelist (in a rare post-View to a Kill role) is just fine and oozes charisma. Malcolm McDowell as the villain gets to smack his lips in over-the-top glee and uncontrollable mania more than any other film since the notorious Caligula. And Nancy Allen (she of Dressed to Kill and Robocop) looks lovely even though she is evidently older than she used to be and delivers a reasonably competent supporting performance.
The film benefits greatly by poking fun at itself, thus achieving a nice balance between farce and suspense. As TV movies go, this one is definitely an upper-class citizen!
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