Reviews written by registered user
|66 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When this film came out in 68, being that it was foreign, and the worst
crime of all, dubbed, it was generally ignored or poorly received by
the American film critics. One so called reviewer (I wonder if he
really saw the film) wrote that it was not the worst movie of the year,
but it will do.
Some have suggested that Michael Angelo Antonioni might have seen this film and been influenced by it when he made his critically panned Zabriske's Point. Certainly this film has been influenced by Antonioni.
The film is about a robbery of an armored truck, and the unusual circumstances that complicate matters as three sides collide. However underlying it perhaps is a comment on modern society of the time, and the idea of wanting to reclaim a lost or innocent past of heroism, even if it is criminal. This is brought out in the character of Geno, played by Jean Servais who became better known due to his staring role in the 56 heist film Rififi from the mid 50's, and I think it is no accident that he is in the film, though briefly, as his participation may mean a heroic past, but one that will not work in 1968. Gary Lockwood as Tony, was 31 at the time, while Servias was 58. The film makes references to the past as with movie posters seen on a street that would probably have not been seen on those streets of 68, and one of Tony's friends referring to some of Geno's friends as from a George Raft movie.
There is also an interesting connection made between Geno, and the adversary to Tony, named Skorsky played by Lee J Cobb. One man has lived in the past and will die with it, and the other Skorsky (note they were about the same age)has adapted to this new age, outwardly respectable, but below a criminal. He will want out of his criminal activities, though as one of the mob men points out, it is not easy, and "you have eaten off the table". Tony will refer to both of Geno and Sorsky as ugly, but the meaning is different.
ideas of loyalty are also noted. The older group of Geno's feel a sense of loyalty, no mater how stupid something is. But as it will be shown with Tony's group, loyalty might not mean much, unless you are the older man of that group, who will remain loyal to the end. Some may be turned off by the fact that some of the ones with poor loyalty are shown to be gay, and probably today would not pass muster. But this was 1968, and the portrayal of gays were not always shown in a good light. But it is interesting that Tony is shown to have them as friends, if not loyal ones.
Many have criticized the cast of Lockwood, feeling that he is a weak leading man. I felt this way at the beginning, feeling that Jack Palance would have been better as Tony, and perhaps in relation to Geno more believable. While Palance would have been a more attractive choice, Lockwood is showing the modern man of that time, and I think is the proper choice. As the film gets to its climax, I realized that his casting was correct, and we see that Tony is a man who perhaps has been in great pain and guilt, but until the near end, has been able to hide it from us and his partners, and most certainly Elke Sommer as Ann. Interesting also that Geno had accused Tony of not being interested in money, while Ann a few minutes later in the film will say otherwise.
Elke Sommer has been said by some was only eye candy here in the film. But I think she represents a woman who is looking into the future while Tony may be in the past. Yes she is pretty here, but I think that she brings out the sense of being insecure in her role of a woman in 1968, and her involvement and use by both Tony and Skorsky, who she is having a relationship on the side despite his being married. her character and thoughts brought to my mind the women's liberation movement that was just around the corner.
jack Palance as Russel is great, I like the way Palance uses reading glasses in the film. While he is introduced at one time as James Bond by Skorsky, he is different from conventional Hollywood hero police types. He is not shown with a girl friend or wife, he also doesn't kill anyone, or punch anyone out. I also liked his relationship with the local police chief, the camaraderie they have, and loyalty.
Also the film does not make us hate anyone. We sometimes are made to understand Skorsky, and wish him to be able to be free of the mob. He is also not the most cold blooded character in the film, that person is also against conventions.
With its haunting music, used perfectly throughout the film. There is some lapses of logic, but this lapse helps move the story along. Often wonderful editing is used. If this is not director Antonio Isasi-Isasmendi of Spain greatest film, perhaps he needs a long overdue retrospective.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Thank goodness they did not make this film in color. Certainly color
would have made this film at the time less the masterpiece that the
film is. Also color might have made us concentrate not on this first
rate story and acting, but also the bare budget that this film most
While many have compared the film to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and I Married an Alien From Outer Space, I think that it has more in common with another film that was made the same year of 1963, The American production of The Day Mars Invaded Earth. Both films concern an alien entity basically fighting back in insidious ways to prevent scientists from the planet earth into invading their planet, and seem to infiltrate the Earth much the same way in both films.
What is intriguing about the film as I have written in my Summary title is its feminist angle. Years before women were demanding equal pay for equal work, this film presents a world where women are actually valued more as not being equal to men, but also as somewhat of a prized possession.
After our introduction of the main character, it is interesting to note that when we go back into flashback, we see men in suits scouring around doing their important work, while two women on a staircase are cleaning and scrubbing on the floors of this building, doing what can be described as menial work. The next is when we see the first victim meeting with his secretary played by Jean Marsh before her Upstairs Downstairs triumph. She appears to be the dutiful secretary of a smart man. Subordinate to his needs When we meet Patrick Newell who would later go on to fame playing Mother in The Avengers, an obnoxious investigator, he is making rather stupid comments about John Neville (the main character of the films) wife. Later on when we meet the wife she is playing the dutiful wife of our main protagonist, a stay at home woman of the time.
Yet in many ways the men, accept for Phillip Stone, are not shown to be so smart. Certainly the first victim of the film is careless in revealing what he has discovered. John Neville's character should have thought more clearly about getting married to someone who he has just met, also considering about the vital work and top secret work he is doing. He also shows rather immature behavior to his colleague played by Stone, when he does not apologize for his rude behavior when suggested that he should have done so. Patrick Newell seems very content to eat sweets while investigating, no doubt contributing to his considerable girth, plus appearing to be less than likable.
Stones character will turn out to be the savior of the film in some ways, as he rescues Neville;s character from certain death. While Neville is intelligent, it is Stone who is portrayed really as perhaps one of few who can save mankind, with his rational thinking.
Gabriella Lucidi the wife, who made very few film appearances is effective in her brief time on screen as the alien form who has succumbed to be a female human being, and who later will be denounced as having been weak and not like the other stronger beings that are among the humans on earth. As a woman, Gabriella Lucidi's character it is suggested may really be the woman of the past. Not content really to be subservient to a man's needs. The children probably fear her because they realize that with women like her, they would probably not have been born, and are more aware of the threat that her kind is.
Until his death in the film, we are somewhat led to believe that Patrick Newell's character is the real villain, the surprise of course is that it is Jean Marsh, who by declaring that not all of her life forms are like Neville's supposed wife, is suggesting really the coming of a new woman, one who may not wish to be subordinate to men.
If one does not think that this might be the true about this film, the ending of the film, with the eight or so women, who are just staring at the two main male leads, suggesting that they are alien life forms as well, should really leave no doubt. Why have these life forms not been shown to take the forms of men? As for the ending, I don't think that it is meant as an idea that our two men are doomed, but more of a symbol of 'they are among us,'
It is no secret that Charles Bronson became a star in Europe before he
became one in the US because of Death Wish. In Cabo Blanco, somewhat a
takeoff of 'Casablanca', Bronson starred in the most European looking
of all his movies. Yes he did films in Europe like Love and Bullits,
and there is a brief sequence in Naples of the superior 'The Mechanic.'
But due to casting, it has a feel of a European movie, the most since
Someone Behind the Door'. Of course, the film does take place in Peru,
and was filmed in Mexicao, but certainly the participation of the film
with Dominique Sanda, Fernando Rey, and Camilla Spav certainly gives
the film that feel. Also it is only the other time that Bronson worked
with Jason Robards, (Once Upon a Time in The West) this time as a
It is also perhaps the most romantic film that Bronson has done, and all though he was 58 when he did the film, he looks the younger than he had ever looked since his role as Jeff in 'Violent City'.
It is also a curious puzzle in Bronson's career, as it did not get much theatrical play in the US, if at all. Why this is has never been explained. On first viewing, it is an entertaining film, at least I was when I first saw it in 86 on video. Perhaps one of the problems also was that it was short at 87 minutes, and Bronson's popularity was on decline, though, sadly, the Cannon films with Death Wish II, and 10 to Midnight, with its incredible violence would shoot Bronson back up to big box office status.
It would be, I believe, the last time we would see Bronson without a shirt on. Perhaps he might have been having trouble keeping that athletic looking body that he had, less than 20 years later he would need a hip replacement.' In fact, in the film, he is seen that way from the back, as he walks away from camera, it is almost as if he is saying through this scene, you won't see me with my shirt off again.
This is a fun movie to watch, also if you are a person who likes to see a lot of naked women, you won't be disappointed. Though I don't recommend it for that.
The film does have its flaws though, The song 'The Very Thought Of You, gets played to many times that it becomes a cliché. Also the climax, and some of the scenes before that are so contrived and silly. I would also suggest that it is condescending to some of the supposedly native Peruvians, though this might harkin back to the days of the 40 American movies, which have some scenes which begin in black and white. However, if you think about it, the ending shot is ironic, and can make one think. The narration does add a veneer of sophistication to the film. Listen very closely at the end, as you might miss some important details.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First, thank you if you are reading my review. Second, I highly
recommend if you read mine, you read Jaibo of England review. It is one
of the best reviews I have ever read here, and I feel that he fully
gives one of the best analysis of a film I have ever seen.
First, when this film came out, it was a bomb with both the critics and audiences, though I have recently read that it was a big hit in Asian countries. One writer has said this is the film that sank Bronson's career as a superstar, which is not true. During this era of Bronson films, his films after Hard times were really not all that well received.
One problem with the critics of the film was their complaint about the silly looking White Buffalo, also the complaint was that it was trying to be a Jaws on Land. I believe I remember Bronson talking about this future film on the Mike Douglass show, and he appeared to have high hopes for it, mentioning Richard Sale the screen writer.
When, however, all is said and done, and the film is finished. You have a point where a film is a new product, put out on the market. After that, and a lot of thanks to DVD's and other media, we can reexamine a film years later, and White Buffalo deserves reexamination.
First, after Hard Times, I think that this is Bronson's best movie. Somehow, I feel that if this had come after Hard Times, it might have gotten better reviews, and seen for what I think what it is, an examination of white man's guilt.
In the previous decade,with the civil rights movement, the Farm workers movement, and also the rising of Native American people, it often seemed that white Americans were being accused of somehow being enemies of humanity, and should somehow feel white guilt. White Buffalo metaphorically explores this idea through the character of Charles Bronson as Wild Bill Hickok.
When Hickok arrives in the first town, he comes across a bunch of bones of dead buffalo, watching this scene, I could not help but think of the death camps of Europe during world war II. What is also interesting in this sequence, is that the first people who try to kill him are members of the US Cavalry, in a bar, by orders of one Custer, who does survive. According to IMDb, his name is Tom, whether he is supposed to be a George Custer is probably the case. Instead of previous films of lets say a John Wayne, where the cavalry comes to the rescue, here we are almost given an idea, and it the behaviors, of these men not being much different from German soldiers as depicted in films like "Where Eagles Dare".
Hickok of course in the film is haunted by nightmares of a white buffalo, that he feels he must kill. He is told that the last white buffalo was killed, but that of course will not be the case. As another, he is told by Charlie (Jack Warden), is also around. He also says in his dream, this buffalo of his nightmares is in snow (white). and it is there that this buffalo must be killed. When Charlie asks Bill how many men he has killed, Bill can't say, but he tells Charlie that most of them were red men. He even states that an Indian is a better man dead.
Will Sampson as Sitting Bull, wants to kill the Buffalo, because his child was killed by it, and his child can not rest peacefully in the other world until the buffalo is killed. When we see the Buffalo going through his village, killing all along the way, in this Kwaidanesqe sequence, we are reminded of earlier films from say 'Little Big Man' when the US Cavalry was shown massacring an Indian village. So while not a nightmare of Sitting Bull, it is certainly his metaphor of stopping the white man from trampling on his tribe.
While it is true that Bill and Charlie help Sitting Bull kill 15 other Indians who would kill Sitting Bull, one realizes that Bill see's this as getting rid of 15 other Indians who might be a threat to Charlie and himself, not out of compassion, and also as a way to hopefully make this lone Indian not try to cause them harm. Later Sitting Bull will repay the favor to Bill by killing someone out to get him.
While the buffalo in Bills dreams is a metaphor of his guilt, and what he has done to others, it is clear that Bill does not understand the meaning of his nightmare. This is brought out when he gives a speech to Sitting Bull about this expansion of the white settler, and that this is just part of the cycle of nature.
This part of this not understanding, is perhaps some what is Bill is on the way to death. In the end, by his one more time befriending Sitting Bull, Charlie will reject and leave Bill, and sitting Bull will say we must never meet again. Bill is more lonely now, and his involvement in this venture will as we will know from history, and learn at the end will not save him. Sitting Bull we are informed will have been killed a year after Bill. Both will be killed by white men.
How sad that critics at the time, and some still today did not view the film as a poetic work of art that it is.
First the film has a great poster. The beginning is good, and the end
is interesting. But in the middle the film is very uninvolving. The
film also does not seem to know what it wants to be. Does it want to be
Dirty Harry, does it want to be The French Connection, or does it want
to be The Godfather. The one character actor who really I think is the
most interesting of all is the Mafia boss played by Martin Balsam.
Watching him, one has to think that he would have been interesting
Playing Don Corleone in the Godfather, or even the Fernando Rey
character in French Connection I and II.
As the poster says, ;This cop plays dirty', but sadly, for the rest of the movie, Torrey is a bore. I wonder how the character of Torrey in the John Gardner stories, was, their were apparently two of them, and who knows, maybe if this film had been both a critical and financial success, the character. like Dirty Harry would have continued. Dirty Harry success lies in not only that we had a great villain, a different kind of law enforcement officer than previous films had shown, but we got to know Harry throughout the movie. We really don't get to know who Torrey is, why he is the way he is. I am a big Bronson fan, but here in Stone Killer, I think we get to see the indifference that Bronson would show in some of his later efforts. Previously Winner and Bronson had teamed to make one of his most interesting characters, that of Bishop in the Mechanic, which is I think their best collaboration.
I think the people involved in this film missed a great opportunity in making a movie that could have focused on the idea of using Viet Nam Vets to be used as a hit squad, which was original. With the unpopular war winding down, it could have asked, what next, as thousands would return, and to what opportunities for them.
I'm sure that Winner and De Laurentis realized that this film wasn't very good, but went on to release it realizing that in Europe the film would do well as Bronson was a huge star their, though not yet in the US.
Burt Reynolds once said that they should remake films that were not very good when first released. Watching the Stone Killer, I think would be interesting to remake, with the same time period and local. With the Viet Nam angle, it would possibly make people wonder about what will happen when our veterans return from Iraq and Aphganistan and Iraq.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Johnny Cool is a real revelation. that it was produced by Peter
Lawford, and directed by a William Asher, whose Beach Party movies
seemed to celebrate American life as this film condemns it. It also may
seem stranger when one sees the people who participated in it, some in
only cameos, like Sammy Davis Junior, or Joey Bishop. However, when you
consider that Vitoria De Sica, who had once been considered the Cary
Grant of Italian films, you may realize, that some of these people who
we looked at as entertainers, may have also had ambitions to create
art. Johnny Cool is art.
Many have commented that it is similar to Point Blank. This is true in many ways,however, another film that no one seems to have mentioned that has also some connection to, I think is John Frankenheimers Seconds. Those who have seen Seconds I think will know what I mean.
Whereas Johnny Cool came out in 63, Seconds and Point Blank came out in 66 and 67. Silva I think was so good in this film as Jonny Cool, that he was encouraged to come to Europe to become a film star their. However, the only film that I think of his European films that matches Johnny Cool at this time as a good film is 'Hail Mafia, that he would make some 2 to three years later with Jack Klugman and Eddie Constantine. Johnny Cool I think also bears resemblances to Machine Gun McCain with John Casavetes, which has a theme Song Similar to John Cools by Sammy Davis Junior. he last killing of Johnny Cool in this film also reminds me somewhat of Seijun Suzuki's 'Branded to Kill', and has some similarities for me to another dark Japanese crime film of the time, 'Blackmail Is My Business.' When we see Johnny Cool, first he is a young Italian boy in Sicily who has just saved his Mother, but it will be to no avail, as she is killed right after wards, and perhaps foreshadows Silva's character's failure at the end of the film. As a young boy, he will meet right after wards Salvatore Gulliano, a real life person who would lead a Sicilian resistance movement. The inclusion of Guilliano is interesting, in that though he was apparently killed in 1950, their was a belief by some that his death was faked, and that he would end up in the US. In this way Johnny Cool runs with this premise, and suggests what might have been of Guilianno in America.
That also, the first scenes we see of Silva, as his real person in the mountains of Sicily, will remind one of Neo Realism with its black and white photography. Also, does not Silva as that person not remind one of Fidel Castro, with his beard.
Though this is in Sicliy, one cannot help in these scenes to feel that their is some Latin American feel. The people in the village seem more down to earth people, than the ones we will see in America.
Also here, Richard Anderson as the American Correspondent, asks Silva's character about having once fought with the Americans, to which Silva's character replies that a man fights for himself. This gives the implications that the Silva character at this time may be fighting against the Americans. When he says, from the Germans we got these guns, holding a machine gun, one can't help but feel some present equation between the Germans of the 40's, to the Americans of the 60's, as they were aiding totalitarian regimes against the communists.
When we jump to America, we will be introduced to a very sinister and unpleasant America. Perhaps this film would have had a bigger box office (I don't know what that was) had it been filmed in Color. This is however one film that benefits artistically with black and white, especially when one goes to LA and Las Vegas. With its black and white photography, one does not get a feeling of beauty, but instead a dreary feeling, especially during a swimming pool scene, that might have looked too beautiful in color. Also surprising to me, Las Vegas when one considers the participation of Davis, Lawford, and Bishop, is not shown as a place one should really want to go to, as perhaps the earlier Rat Pack film Oceans 11 did. One gets the feeling that this town is really the place of losers, and people who can't really pay their bills.
Elizabeth Montgomery, as the love interest of Silva, is presented as I think the mixed up, naive American. She is drawn to his tough guy persona. However she will bring destruction to him, even though one should consider that he has saved her life from possibly a similar fate that he will have. First, after killing Mort Sahl's character, he will have plans to leave and abandon what he is doing. However, she will sadly convince him to continue. The next two victims that he does in we will have no sympathy for, so we continue to root for him. However, she betrays him stupidly when she realizes two children of one of his victims could have been killed. Instead of calling the police, she will out of her own cowardliness, because she is guilty as an accessory to murder, call the very criminals he has been fighting against. In many ways, her character, represents 'the common American' of the time, just before American involvement in Viet Nam, unaware that even in wars sanctioned by the US, innocent children could get killed, or not have really thought about that.
A very dark, disturbing view of Americana, from people you would not expect from. Get a load of one of the law enforcement people, with his glasses, one dark, one regular. What is the meaning behind that. I wanted to writer more, but with only a 1000 limit, could not.
If someone tells you that the youth of yesterday, were so much better
behaved, have them see this film from Japan in 1960.
The film has been compared to Breathless by Godard. The one difference though I would say is in its protagonist. In Breathless, Jean Paul Belmondo's character was kind of cool, and I could see perhaps young people wanting to be like him. The protagonist if any think does not have these qualities. He comes across as crazy, almost psychotic, and a real loser. In many ways his character is more real than Belmondo's. I am not sure, but I think the film might be taking place in Tokyo, but the Japanese city we are presented with is nothing like the Paris of Breathless. It is ugly, you can almost feel the heat, and you wonder how it must even smell.
Like this directors later film, 'Black Sun' He also seems to be criticizing the use of music in the way it might block people from reality. Their is a scene in a bar, where jazz music our protagonist enjoys listening to, when the lead female protagonist, who had been raped by him, stops the music from playing, and he almost goes crazy It results him driving to the ocean with his black friend, (Chico Rolands from Black Sun), and go swimming. It is also a criticism of modern art, and those who supposedly practice it, or admire it. Though at the same time, I wonder the way the director films this movie, especially the stolen auto sequence at the beginning, if this film might be artsy at times in itself, and not know it.
At the same time, hovering over this film, are Westerners, the men who take the women from the Japanese to have for exchange for money. This film I guess is before the big economic boom in Japan, and shows the contempt that Japanese perhaps felt towards the West, especially the US. Their is a line that our protagonist says regarding Jazz, 'the blacks invented it, the whites stole it, and now we have it. We are worse than them.
Chico Roland as Gill is perhaps the one foreigner this film respects. Being black, it is ironic as Japan has been accused of being racist towards blacks, which was somewhat demonstrated in Black Sun. I would like to learn more about Chico Rolands, who he is, and how he began working in Japan. It is regrettable that Criterion on their Eclipse series, didn't supply audio commentaries which might shed some light. Even here on IMDb, their is no info where and when he was born or if he died. I do wish his character was somewhat expanded in the film, and we would know who this character is.
The ending is interesting. I am for a woman's right to choose, but the films ending is the only one I think of that can come close to making an anti-abortion statement, as our protagonist looks up at the sky ceiling of the hospital, as if looking up to god.
Recently someone talking about the occupy movement commented that
marches are good, but you can only march so long, you have to organize.
That comment reminded me of this film, which has been quite a while
since I've seen it. Danny Trejo and Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin are really
good in this film. However the same cannot be said for Robert De Niro
(when has he really given a good performance recently or been in a good
film0 Don Johnson, and Steven Segal.
I will also say, this film starts out with a great bang, and their is a scene in a hospital which has to be seen to be believed, and perhaps the film should be seen for that great scene, which I think might be one of the 100 greatest scenes ever in a motion picture.
the opening scene before the credits reminds me of something that the late Sam Fuller once, said, basically that the audience has to get a 'hard on', so you can hook the audience. This he does. The film continues with one big scene after the other, however, after a while I found myself wanting the film to end, as all it seemed to have was an opening act, and nothing more, over and over again.
We learn at the beginning that Machete (Trejo) has suffered a tremendous loss, however Rodriguez never invests the film in this fact, it is totally forgotten. Also, he has missed a great opportunity with Steven Segal as the drug lord villain. Segal's entrance at the beginning is truly memorable, could say it almost rivals Henry Fonda's opening in Sergio Leones Once Upon a Time in The West. Once again, their is no investment made in his character, as he disappears through most of the movie only to come back again as more of a side show joke, which really isn't all that funny or entertaining.
Robert Deniro and Don Johnson, respectively as a bigoted Tesas politician and Don Johnson, as a vicious killer of a group of vigilantes who kill illegal immigrants trying to cross the border are such cardboard cutups, though what happens to the Deniro character in the end is ironic. Yet these are truly cardboard characters, and nothing more, their acting isn't funny, scary or anything of interest. This is specially sad for Deniro. Robert Mitchum when working with Deniro on the 75 film The Last Tycoon, made fun of Deniro's acting seriousness. Perhaps if he were alive today and saw Deniro's performance here he would punch Deniro in the nose and say get back to the way you used to be. I realize that this film is supposed to be a go back to the 60's and early 70's of the so called 'Grind House' films, However I did not know that it was supposed to show what made some of these films so awful, something that the film 'Grindhouse' did not show.
I liked Cheech Marin's role as a priest, though I think that some people who are Catholic's or Christians may find his role offensive, and it has nothing to do with his being a priest.
Mr. Rodriguez has made a film here which could have been somewhat controversial, but he has really tried to take an easy way out and not offend anyone in the slightest, and with the poor cartoonish atmosphere of the film, he does not succeed. The film may want to be a comedy, but it isn't all that funny, and becomes rather tedious.
I remember seeing his first feature El Mariachi, and how much promise I felt he held. It was a charming low budget film. Except for this two followup films with Antonio Banderras, 'Sin City', and the Planet Terror Episode of Grind House he really hasn't shown all that much.
I guess it was back in the 90's when he collaborated on that Vampire film with actor George Clooney. I could help but think of the body of great work that Mr. Clooney has had since that film. It reminds me of a joke that my German Mother told me that went around during World War II. First I don't wish to offend Italian people, but it went like this. '1941, Germany invades Russia, Italy bombs Malta. 1956 Germany crosses the Misisipi, Italy bombs Malta.
I was supposed to go see this play with my girl friend in Oakland
California, but did not because of the Ticket Master price add on. I
was angry at Ticket Master at the time, but now have to thank them.
I am a European American, by Girl friend is African American. I have seen with her the movies of Tyler Perry, and also so the stage musical of Color Purple. As for J. Johnson's Cheaper to Keep her, I rented out the DVD. When my girl friend saw the DVD, she was not impressed, and I was somewhat in shock.
Imagion a scenario, where a black is shown to be somewhat of a sexual freak for white women, and that a white man, shoots a gun at him. Later we learn, that the black man has been actually killed by this white, man, the white man because of his cleverness gets away with it, and we are supposed to laugh at that. Could one imagine the outrage. In Cheaper to Keep her, and white woman in sleeping with a married black man, and she is later as we learn killed by a black woman, and this black woman gets away with it, and the audience is supposed to find this funny. yet their has been no outrage of this situation in the play which very much reminded me of the Nicole Simpson murder in the infamous OJ Simpson trial which gravely divided the United States on racial lines.
I wondered how my girl friend or I would have felt at this play. I wondered how a white woman with her black boy friend or husband would have felt. I have spoken to some white women who have dated black man, and some of the problems that they have encountered with black women.
In the extras, a black woman is interviewed, and she says 'I booed the villain, In 'Cheaper to Keep Her', I have no doubt to whom she was referring to. In a certain way, 'Cheaper to Keep Her' reminded me of the so called Blaxpoittion films of the 70's, though in some ways they were really 'get whitey' films. In those years however, if you went to see these kind of films, you knew what to expect, and in many cases they were made by white directors and screenwriters. People who went to see 'Cheaper to Keep Her' were not given this information before they went to see it.
What is perhaps more amazing, is that the main stream media in reviewing this play have not brought this issue out. In most cases it appears to me from black journalists, though some are also white. People who criticize the media, perhaps unfairly, as having a left wing bias might be able to show the coverage of this play as indicative of this belief. It also could show why many don't want to read newspapers any more as they consider them irrelevant. I actually E-mailed the art critic of the Fresno Bee, this yesterday as I write this review. He has not yet gotten back to me. On Ticketmaster, of the 266 audience reviews, only one person stating in a short sentence, 'making humor at the expense of other races' made mention of the racist nature of this play. If Mr. Johnson wants to make such plays, I have no objection, however I feel an audience should be warned.
In the DVD extras, their is an interview with all the performers. The differences I however noted, that while they went into more depth in the characters of black actors, while the white actress seemed to be just happy to be in this play. (I guess we all need the money) Mr. Gary Johnson, one of the actors, talks rather sarcastically and racially why he does not like a white person putting on makeup on him as a black woman is.
Vivica Fox and Brian McNight on one interview I saw discussed how they have a prayer before each performance. The play is filled with religious references about the power of god. How often has one seen people who try to hide their racism behind a belief in God. Is this what Mr. Johnson is trying to do.
The play brought back memories of seeing Preston Sturges's 1942 'Palm Beach Story', a far superior film about divorce, but which was sadly married by a very racist scene at the expense of a black man. I would contend with the supposedly sophisticated trappings of 'Cheaper to Keep Her' this is the most racist performance of this kind of genre of story since 'Palm Beach Story', and perhaps even more so.
From its beginning of the Play, with it's 'Black Family Feud' non African Americans, and certainly those who are involved in mixed racial relationships are not welcome. One audience reviewer suggested that it would have cross over appeal, certainly not for me, unless perhaps you are KKK and 'believe the white bitch got what she deserved'. Also, as some have said in reviews, the play is really not that good.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is by no means a great film. It however still holds interest for
the politics of the film. The producer, Libert had an agreement with
Hammer film studios that he would provide known American actors in
British films. Forced into this situation, came this interesting film.
Like the Quatermass films with Brian Donlevy, we are shown two men, who are not identified as I remember as Americans, but we can tell are (though Paul Carpenter was born in Canada) One is at the top of the social ladder, and one more so at the bottom. They are supposedly friends, having that "American" bond.
When Paul Carpenter arrives at Dane Clarks home, a party is going on. Though Clark is not their. People are elegantly dressed, but Paul comes very casual to say the least, which really sets him apart from the other people at the party, apparently all British. One of the guests at the party is one of the people who works at Clarkes company, being in the boardroom, who is earlier accused by a colleague of only having this job because of family connections. Clark on the other hand arrives at this party late, possibly from working late. While he is dressed in a tie, he does not go into the milieu of the party, but views his wife from an opening in a wall. As we can see, he is somewhat the chairman of a board, and believes that he has gotten into a business deal that will ruin his company, and his reputation. He has the intent of hiring Paul Carpenter, as Paul to kill him, so that his wife, who he loves deeply can collect the insurance.
Later of course, Clarke's character will realize that the deal that he failed would fail, has gone through, and will make the company a fortune. The plot of this somewhat implausible story is now for Clark to save his own life.
The interesting thing about the film are the relationships. While Clark loves his wife deeply, I somewhat suspected that she did not return this in kind, and of course this would be revealed in the end, and that she does not love Dane Clarks character, a man we can see somewhat had to fight his way to the top, but the Englishman played by Anthony Forwood, a man born into money. She blames Clark for marrying her for her wealth, and says she despises him.
Here is Clarks character, an American head of a British Company, who is often separate from the rest of his people on the board, who is delusional that his British wife loves him, and believe that he has a British friend, who is actually trying to kill him. On the board he has a member who is antagonistic to him, and does not like the methods of which Dane Clarks character will try to get results, considering them underhanded and dangerous. While he is fat and old, while Clark is young and slim, he seems to take the case of defending British honor against Clark, which will culminate in a Turkish bathhouse scene, which has somewhat homosexual overtones, where the Englishman will express his dislike for Clark, to Clarks humiliation.
Clarks relationship with his secretary however is totally different. She is devoted to him, so much so that when he yells at her, one almost feels a sado-masochistic relationship, that he could probably take somewhere and beat her, and she would feel it is showing her devotion to him. Mirroring this is a devotion from a barmaid to Paul Carpenters character, (a caricature of the Ugly American?)a misguided love, though not in the same vane as Clarks relationship with his secretary. Throughout the film, we are shown a disdain of some of the characters for Americana, and also from others a reverence.
One writer here reviewing the film has suggested that with the demise of Clarke's scheming wife, that he will have free reign with his secretary. While she has stated her love for him while he tried to strangle the true love of his wife. It is interesting the last scene, when he carries his wife's dead body from the garden house to the home. He feels that is where her body belongs, and one still sees, though he should really feel disdain, a misguided love for this dead woman. The secretary who loves him, and has saved him from death, seems to follow him dejectedly into the house. Does the American Clark, really love his dead wife for what she represents, some idea of British wealth. It could be argued that he will really not fall in love with his secretary, as she is in the lower status of the British social order.
|Page 1 of 7:||      |