Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sitting Target (1972)

Director: Douglas Hickox

Starring: Oliver Reed, Jill St. John, Ian McShane, Edward Woodward

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: YOU ARE LOOKING AT AN ANIMAL! A woman is his target...No cage can hold his lust for revenge.

Plot: Convicted murderer Harry Lomart (Oliver Reed) escapes from prison with cell mate Birdie Williams (Ian McShane) in order to kill his wife (Jill St John) who has been unfaithful and has got herself pregnant in the process.

My Rating: 7

Would I watch it again? If a decent widescreen print came along, sure.

It kills me to have to watch a film in pan & scan that was originally shot wide; especially one like this. I love the gritty crime films of the 70s, particularly those from the UK and Italy. They're often very bleak, violent and they don't need to have a happy ending. I LOVE the cynical seventies.

SITTING TARGET has got a top notch cast. Reed is very good at playing characters with a single, unrelenting focus. It's neat seeing McShane outside of his role in DEADWOOD; especially one from so long ago. St. John is fine as well and it's nice to see that she's a pretty good actress. I have such a bad taste in my mouth from DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971) that it's hard to shake anyone's performance in that.

The shot composition in the prison visitation scene is remarkable. Though it lasts just a few minutes, there's hardly a scene where the camera is on just one person (either Pat (St. John) or Harry (Reed)) but you see the other through a reflection.

They work it out with a few different angles and results (sometimes the faces are opposite each other but the camera is still only pointing to one actor). Very nice. In the P&S format it's so tight that it begs to reveal what we're missing to the sides. I'm dying to see this in scope. Argh.

The prison escape with Reed, McShane and some other cat lasts a good 15 minutes, most of it without a note of score. It's only toward the end when it looks like they aren't going to make it because of a foul-up does the music kick in. I would have liked it to play out without music as it's not really adding much to the well-built-up tension the director established already. Sorry Stanley Myers. It didn't work for me but the rest of the score is very good.

We get a few nice action set-pieces but the film as a whole is a tension builder from the get-go with just one thing on the table. Kill Pat. Something happens toward the end, something BIG, that changes the game for the last 10-15 minutes. Lots of tension at this point with a final car chase (a really nice one, too) and showdown.

So. Is it a happy ending? Does Harry succeed? If you're familiar with these types of films from the 70s, you can probably figure it out but I'm not going to spoil anything because it's definitely worth checking out...EVEN if it's a shitty pan & scan print off of TV. Find it. Oh, and if you do want to see how the last 10 or so minutes play out, watch the youtube clips 3 & 4.

No comments:

Post a Comment