Norman Mailer's first feature filmmaking effort stars the director and his two longtime collaborators Buzz Farbar and Mickey Knox as a trio of gangsters holed up in a ramshackle New York apartment, drinking, braying, and fighting.
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Norman being tough in a police station and making us strain to understand what his characters are saying.
A vanity project of the most arrogant sort. Andy Warhol's EMPIRE would be far better to watch. The problem is the sound, not the poor camera-work. I can take shadows, bodies in front of speakers, off-kilter framing, but I can't accept a novelist-director allowing the dialog to be completely muddy, drowned out, and unintelligible. A boom mike expertly handled would have allowed us to hear many of the words. Our ears don't muddy sound that badly in a crowded police station. But Mailer never gave us a chance to hear any more than 5% of the dialog. I detest the word "pretentious," but that's the only way to describe this auditory nightmare. Certainly an oddity to be experienced but only for five minutes. Read his wonderful prose works instead of trying to understand what he and his characters are saying in this film. He was a master of description and written dialog, but here the words are lost in the wilderness of bad technology.
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