Retired ex-cop and private detective Harry Ross (Paul Newman), who lives with rich actor Jack Ames (Gene Hackman), who is dying from cancer and his actress wife Catherine (Susan Sarandon) gets mixed up in murder when he is asked to deliver blackmail money. He walks into a twenty-year-old case involving the mysterious disappearance of Catherine's former husband. Raymond Hope (James Garner) is another ex-cop who also does occasional errands for the couple.Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
Most critics wrote off the film because of the poor script and the lackluster direction. Yes, it is true that an average viewer should be able to spot the villain, well before the ex-cop and ex-private investigator does so in the film by comparing life-styles. But that is what young audiences will look for in the movie. What I liked about the script were the subtle dialogues ranging from Samuel Johnson misquotes to acerbic one-liners that developed each of the characters slowly. Take the misty-eyed Lt. Verna (Stockard Channing) greeting Ross as an old acquaintance and then closing the dialogue with the icy "Cuff him!" to the arresting officers. You have an extra-ordinary script here and everywhere in the film.
This film is not action-packed; it is heavy on dialogue requiring a mature mind to take in the clever character buildup. Sarandon's character, in particular, was well developed leading to a charming finale.
Benton never appealed to me as a great director; nonetheless this film's strength lies in his script (co-scripted by Russo), a thoroughly delightful cast ensemble, and a notable camerawork by Sobocinsky.
Finally, I thought the film's name was a wonderful and appropriate selection.
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