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A man wearing an expensive gray suit finds himself in Central Park in New York City not knowing who he is or how he got there. His amnesia even extends to the fact that he doesn't know how he takes his coffee. All he has on his possession are a crumpled piece of paper wrapped around a couple of pills, the paper also with a scribbled telephone number. He is also wearing a ring with a broken stone, the ring engraved from its giver with his or her monogram, G.V. The telephone number takes him to a woman who doesn't know who he is. Based on what she calls him and some item association, he begins to call himself Sam Buddwing if anyone asks him. As he wanders New York City in a daze, he believes he may be an escaped mental patient based on a newspaper story, his clothes and the monogrammed ring. But a vision of a young brunette makes him remember a woman in his life named Grace. He manages to spend time with a few women during the day, many times he believing that woman is Grace herself. ...Written by
A quirky, moody, sleight of reality. As this movie progresses it becomes more an altered chronology of remembered events rather than a series of hallucinations. The city of New York is more than a geographical location, it is an artistic "set". The use of black and white rather than color gives this particular "set" a role in establishing the mood and tone. ALL the shots are for dramatic effect, not a wasted inch. High contrast but in a muted way. A perfect example is the black iron walkway leading to the bridge against a NY skyline and Suzanne Pleshette in a white coat and boots (ala '60"s). This composition has great dark lines and light forms but almost in an early evening haze.
Then, I also must comment on Jean Simmons like I've hardly ever seen her. She was so coquettish, lush, lively and degenerate at the same time that I thought I was seeing Vivien Leigh as a young flapper. I was quite mesmerized trying to reconcile this Jean Simmons with "Young Bess". I thought she was the spark of the whole movie.
The cutting and arranging of the sequences lent themselves to dramatically unfolding the story in non-chronological order. This is what made me think of "Memento".
Like "Memento"'s Guy Pearce, James Garner mostly stumbles through "Mr. Buddwing" fairly stupefied. This behavior seems about right to me if someone were truly experiencing this altered reality.
I recommend this movie for a dark, hushed evening, especially if you have friends willing to "suspend dis-belief" and careen around New York and James Garner's head.
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