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Three Businessmen (1998)

 |  Comedy, Drama  |  October 1998 (USA)
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An American art dealer (Miguel Sandoval), who specializes in southwestern topaz, arrives by train in Liverpool. Similarly, a very proper British art dealer (Alex Cox), who specializes in ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Bennie Reyes
...
Leroy Jasper
Alex Cox ...
Frank King
...
Desk Clerk
Isabel Ampudia ...
Josefina
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Masayoshi Anzai ...
Karaoke Singer / Voice of Cab Driver
Linda Callahan ...
Plutonium Card (voice)
Christine Colvin ...
Liverpool Barmaid
Tod Davies ...
Woman in Tramhuis
Adrian Henri ...
Poet
Ina Hernandez ...
Guadalupe
Adrian Kai ...
Maitre d'
Banshu Matsui ...
Bar Master
...
Liverpool Businessman
Josephine Moss ...
Hand of God
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Storyline

An American art dealer (Miguel Sandoval), who specializes in southwestern topaz, arrives by train in Liverpool. Similarly, a very proper British art dealer (Alex Cox), who specializes in African art, arrives in the same hotel. The two meet in the hotel's abandoned restaurant and decide to set off in finding an evening meal, which becomes problematic immediately when the Brit reveals he is vegetarian. While following their pursuit of a mutually acceptable meal, the main point of the film is their discourse en route to their various attempts at an eatery. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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surrealism | independent film | See All (2) »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

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Release Date:

October 1998 (USA)  »

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie consists of nothing but master shots. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Ghost Riders in the Sky
Written by Stan Jones
Performed by Deborah Harry
Produced and Arranged by Dan Wool
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User Reviews

 
A duo's surreal search for sustenance
30 May 2001 | by (England) – See all my reviews

The film begins by showing us the grand old buildings of Liverpool, England. An old man walks in front of one of them and in the next shot enters Lime Street Station. You wouldn't think that this is relevant, but it is. In Alex Cox's Three Businessmen most things that are on view in the frame are relevant. Cox describes the film as "Buñuelian". You could say that it is something along the lines of one of the maestro's films, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeosie, because the two main protagonists have the same problem – they can't seem to find a meal and a place to eat. The two main protagonists in question are art dealers Bennie Reyes (Miguel Sandoval) and Frank King (Alex Cox). Bennie arrives at Liverpool Lime Street Station with his luggage in tow. He is greeted outside by the damp Liverpool weather. He hails a cab, which then drops him off about one hundred yards away at a plush hotel. Bennie enters the hotel, and after saying "ding ding" at the desk to get some attention, the Desk Clerk pops up (Andrew Schofield of the Scully TV series). He recommends Room 147 to Bennie – "It's got a jacuzzi", he tells him.

Bennie takes the elevator to his room, which he has trouble finding. The corridors in the hotel are dark and difficult to navigate (the film was shot in the Adelphi Hotel). On arrival in his room the first thing he unpacks is his printer. There's a knock on the door – Bennie opens it but there's no-one there. He reads some books to pass some time – the books are: The Seed and the Sower (Laurens Van der Post), The Doubter's Companion (John Ralston Saul), The Multi-Orgasmic Man (Mantak Chia & Douglas Abrams Arava), Urban Voodoo (Edgardo Cozarinsky), and a Johnson Smith catalogue, Things You Never Knew Existed.

Bennie decides to visit the hotel's dining room to eat. The eerie dining room is occupied by just two people - a large waiter and Frank. The waiter leads Bennie down to the end of the room to a table close to Frank's table. The camera shot in this scene stays in the location as we enter the room, and then, very slowly and methodically, moves closer to the end of the room where Bennie and Frank are. Bennie is an affable chap and is eager to strike up a conversation with Frank. Frank is more reserved and would rather not be disturbed at all, just left on his own reading his newspaper - but Bennie gets the conversation going. We learn Bennie is an art dealer from New Mexico, whose main office is in California. Frank is also an art dealer, but he specialises in African art. The two men have their habits - Bennie taps his fork and spoon together - Frank continually tears pieces of paper from his newspaper. Bennie asks the waiter for some wine and the waiter leaves the room. We don't see him again. The two men visit the kitchen to investigate and find it is empty. They go to the main desk and the clerk has vanished.

"I suppose it's time we fended for ourselves", announces Frank. They both set off into the Liverpool night seeking sustenance. Bennie fancies a nice juicy rare steak, but Frank is a vegetarian. Frank also doesn't like Italian food. They visit Matthew Street, where The Beatles used to play in the Cavern Club. Bennie says he hates The Beatles. They come across a bust of Carl Jung - "Maybe we took a wrong turn and ended up in Switzerland", remarks Bennie. They arrive at a Porsche showroom - "This is a poor neighbourhood - so who's buying these cars?", asks Frank. Later, on a bus, Frank tells Bennie, "We are on the verge on absolute chaos. The revival of Eastern Mysticism - all these people running around believing they are the re-incarnation of Marie Curie - it's insane".

Throughout the film there is a strange poster that is displayed in abundance on many walls in different locations that the two men find themselves in. "Daddy Z" is written on the poster and there is the image of a man's face (which is actually the face of Zander Schloss). The purpose of the posters will be revealed at the end of the film.

The two men enter a bar, but there is no food available, but at least they are bought a drink by a kind local karaoke-bar owner. The next stop on their journey is an underground station. They take a train and during the journey the lights go out for a few seconds on the train. It is now a different train - a poster on the side where Bennie is sat has disappeared. On arrival at its destination the train has changed colour and the location is now Rotterdam. Not that it matters to the chaps, as far as they're concerned they are still in Liverpool, just a little disoriented. In another bar Bennie tells Frank about his Plutonium Card, which he says offers him dismemberment insurance and, the best benefit of all, total salvation.

The next chance of nourishment for the two gentlemen comes when they visit a Greek restaurant. A large selection of food is put on the table for them, then Bennie has a panic attack and storms out of the restaurant, deliriously running around the town square (the film amusingly speeded up) and then lying down. Bennie claims the sight of the abundance of food caused the panic attack. The discussion subject turns to laptop computers and it isn't long before the panic attack is forgotten.

On another bus ride, Bennie gives us a rendition of "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts" in a cockney accent, mainly to get the attention of Frank. Frank suggests a boat ride across the Mersey, although it is Hong Kong Harbour, but it's still Liverpool to the boys. Frank reads a section from his newspaper about a virus on a space station (a nod to 2001). Next they find themselves in Tokyo. "It's the Japanese Gardens in Liverpool", Frank says, "It's in the guide". They enter another restaurant and things look promising. Bennie is agitated now and demands to be served. The food arrives but it is plastic. Foiled again. Another small restaurant visit is abruptly ended when it closes while they are waiting.

Next is a taxi journey that leaves them in the desert countryside. Bennie phones the Plutonium Card Company for help, but all he gets is an answering machine. A ride on a cart pulled by a donkey leads them to a small village where they encounter another businessman, Leroy (Robert Wisdom), who is in a similar predicament as Bennie and Frank, but he got lost in Chicago buying a toy for his kid. I won't reveal the final outcome - I recommend you see the film for yourself to discover that. Debbie Harry performs the catchy end-credits song called "Ghost Riders in the Sky", and the other music in the film by Pray For Rain is effective. It's a very enjoyable and inventive surreal film.


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